FOSSICKING THINGS TO DO IN THE INVERELL AREA
 

By Paul Clacher Copyright 2000
 
The following snapshot snippets represent in part a holiday that my family and I spent in the Inverell region during winter 1999 and other trips I have had in the Inverell general area since 1999. Some of the information I lifted from Gold Gem and Treasure, as I like to be a little bit organised before I go on a fossicking trip. I hope you find it mildly interesting and maybe even let you know a few spots that you didn't know of before. Happy fossicking.

INVERELL - PIONEER VILLAGE A nice little museum where a couple of hours can be spent easily. Open Tues. to Sat. 10 am to 5 pm and Sun. to Mon. 10 am to 4 pm. LAKE INVERELL RESERVE - Just East of the town is an aquatic sanctuary, covering 100 hectares which is home to a large variety of birds, waterfowl, platypi and wallabies. It is good for bushwalking and fishing. During our Easter stay at Inverell in 2001 we found that good sapphires could be sieved from the mound of provided wash at the Pioneer Village itself. It proved to be much better than any wash found anywhere else.

RUBY HILL - is situated 12 Miles (19 km) South of Bingara on the main road to Tamworth and also belongs to the De Beers Syndicate of Melbourne. The property consists of a 40 acre lease; the country rock is slate, but a hill composed of basaltic blow is in the very centre of it; on the surface all over it the gemstones are found. The Garnets of Ruby Hill are pyrope Garnets (Blood red)- beautifully coloured, although usually on the small side. Pyrope comes from the Greek Pyropos meaning fiery.
 

To get to the hill, travel about 19 km South from Bingara on the Fossickers Way heading to Barraba. The hill is on the right side of the road, where there is a "Garnet Fossicking" sign. There is an old bitumen road in front of the hill and a rough gravel track around both sides. The garnets are not found at the front of the hill (looking at it from the road), but at either side and around the back. The track is short and quite drivable, although when I was there, high grass had grown over it. Halls Creek runs to the back of the hill. (Gold, Gem & Treasure, November 1998, pp 30 - 33). Our trip failed to find any garnets at all. Perhaps they were in the spots we were not digging. In April 2001 I was advised by an experienced fossicker that Ruby Hill has pretty much been dug out. This is part of the major geological fbelts the Extensive Fault and the Peel fault.

 

FOSSICKERS REST CARAVAN PARK - We stayed at this caravan park during Easter 2001 and found it to be excellent. It is clean and well run. Contact details are 02 6722 2261. E-mail fossickersrest@northnet.com.au There is also a heap of sapphire wash in the back camping area where tenants can buy a bucket of wash and have a sieve. I have found that there has pretty much been sapphires in every bucket. In fact, I saw a 7.5 carat blue sapphire come out of this heap once when I was there.

 

Closed In April 2001 "MORRIS's HONEY FARM  - Situated 4 km along the Copeton Dam Road. Probably no more than an hour would be spent here, but there is quite a nice gem display to be seen and yes you can sample all the honeys. The owners have advised that they are closing up Morris's Honey Farm in late April 2001."
 

STAGGY CREEK AREA - Dry fossicking for diamonds, topaz, quartz and tourmaline. Staggy creek in on the Copeton dam road about 24 km from the turn-off to Copeton. The fossicking area is on the right just over the bridge. Where the kidney bean shaped and sized stone is in the wash so too are the diamonds. The more the kidney bean stone the more the diamonds. The wash is also grey in colour. Pencil tourmaline is also an indicator of diamonds. Associated gemstones with diamond wash are sapphire, topaz, ruby, garnet, spinel, zircon, brooktite, titaniferous iron, magnetic iron, tourmaline, quartz, opal (common) iron pyrites, gold and osmiridium. Locations are - Eagle Hawk Creek, Lady's Gully near Doctors creek, Oakey Creek, Malacca Creek & Maids Creek. Marble size Topaz in Staggy Creek was relatively common. We found some Topaz but found an enormous amount of tourmaline. Donít look for the creek as the diggings are on top of the high ground. Itís an ancient river bed on a made hill. It is advised that there is now a lock on the gate to Staggy Creek fossicking area, however access by foot is still permitted. Be prepared for a bit of a walk, as it is about 400 metres to the actual dig.
 

WARIALDA  - Opalised and petrified wood are particularly prevalent in Warialda area and can be found around Tiger's Gap, 5 km East of the town on the Gwydir Highway, Ironised and other woods, jasper quartz and chert agate can be found in old gravel quarries leading to the airstrip road. Free information maps are available from the Heritage Information Centre or Yallaroi Council Office, both in Hope Street. I had a good look in this area but couldnít find any Opalised wood. I have since been told Opalised wood is there, but you have to dig for it.
 

FISHING - There is good fishing at the Bonshaw weir which is stocked, Pindarri dam East of Ashford and at Copeton dam. There is also fishing in the weir at Inverell.
 

MACINTYRE FALLS / CAVES (WALLANGRA)(KWIAMBAL National Park) - Nice for a day's drive but could also include a trip to Walangra Shed for specking Tourmaline in quartz. (Track goes for about 800 metres up the hill behind the shed) Youíd have to be blind not to find some. You probably need a 4x4 wheel drive to get further that half way up the hill as the track is pretty rough. Don't forget a good torch for each person for the caves. It is a must. The Walangra Shed is 64 km from Inverell.
 

BUKKULLA - Sapphires in Frazers Creek. Bukkulla is about 39 km North of Inverell. The turn-off to the sapphire public fossicking area is about 43 km North of Inverell with the actual diggings about another 3 to 4 km east along a dirt road. I had a dig here but had no luck at all.

NULLAMANNA - I have been told that the public fossicking area does produce good sapphires, but you have to work for them. A good area is the area adjacent to the stone walled shed. There may be piles of wash in heaps moved there by the council. Hint - dig under big rocks. During early July 2001 I found that a deep hole had been opened up down near the creek. In the hole is a thick band of rock hard wash. I dug and washed this band of wash and did find a couple of sapphires. Now you will have to work very hard in this wash, but I think it will be worth the effort. I would use an impact crow bar in this wash. I also drove down a track which runs the length of Frazers Creek and was very surprised to find some really beautiful camping spots. With this new hole and the discovery of these fine camping spots, I would say that Nullamanna is as good a spot to camp and dig as you will find in a public fossicking spot. (Despite the fact that it is right next to the Council Tip) If the local council spent a bit of money on this spot it would be quite an excellent place to camp. A toilet or two and a tank of water wouldn't go astray either. The fossicking area is 20 km NE from Inverell up the Emmaville road on Poolbrook road.

 

SWANBROOK CREEK - There is another fossicking area at the bridge 14 km NE out of Inverell up the Swanbrook road. The Swanbrook public fossicking area is off to the left immediately after crossing the bridge and a good track travels through the two hundred metres of digging area. Patrick O'Brien said " I think that I would explore this area again, rather than the better known Nullamanna fossicking field." The wash at Nullamanna is deep at least 2 metres. During my Easter 2001 trip to the Inverell area we tried our luck at this location and I must say out of all the areas we tried we had the most success here at this spot. In just a couple of hours I extracted about 30 or so small sapphires and three very pretty zircons.

 

POOLBROOK - On 18 April 2001 we ventured to the recently re-opened private dig of Poolbrook. The cost was $10.00 per person per day. We dug in the alluvial wash located to the Western portion of the property and from four adult diggers we managed to uncover a good dozen or so blue sapphires. Several were around the 2 carat size. Contact details are "Poolbrook Gems Fossicking park" Louise and John Walburn, phone 02 6722 2781. Camping is allowed on site, but naturally is extra. The entrance is a little tricky, but the owners do supply a good set of directions to the site. We spoke with other fossickers who dug in the white clay area of the property, who advised they had varying success. My choice would be the alluvial wash, but you never know, sapphires like gold, are where you find them.

 

KINGS PLAINS CASTLE  - Probably a good place to visit while in the Nullamanna area. Especially after you get sick of digging all day. Open 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday & Thursday. Ph 02 6733 6807. I believe they only take group bookings. The camping area at Kings Plains National Park is quite pretty.

 

TORRINGTON Ė It has been said that Blather Arm also has Amethysts as well as Topaz. Itís the lucky and very experienced fossickers that seem to find the good Topaz at Blather Arm these days. There are also numerous abandoned mines which I have noticed on the map which will certainly be worth a good look, with their many tailing dumps. These dumps include - Kathida, Kellys Sugarloaf, Paradise Creek, Wangatiki, Little Plant Creek, Taronga, Little Flagstone Creek, Hazeldine (Highland Home Creek), The Cornish Buddle, Scrubby Gully, Dutchman, Butler Mine, and the Mine near Highland Home, Fielders Hill & Blather Arm. There is also the Mystery Rock Face for the site seer. Heffernans mine can produce Beryl. (The Torrington Hotel which is called the "Tablelands Hotel" (02 6734 6202) has again reopened its doors and I have been advised the bar and grill serves up a pretty good meal, infact "The food is brilliant" and there are also rooms to rent by the night or more- Sorry, but the hotel has closed again. This time I am told it is for good.). There is a very nice Caravan Park which is also situated in town and is called the "Torrington Caravan Park" (02 6734 6264). Numerous minerals also can be found in the Torrington area.

 

TENT HILL - The old Tent Hill mine 6 km from Emmaville is an amazing sight
 

WELLINGROVE - The fossicking area is well appointed with picnic tables, toilets and drinking water. Water for sieving is available from a small dam set up for that purpose. I would suggest going as far to the bottom dam as possible. That is as far from the gate as you can carry your equipment. Specking can also be good in this area. I understand the wash is about 1.5 to 2 metres down. Good news is the soil is fairly soft and not clay. The top soil is packed firm grey sandy soil, with the wash a rusty coloured band of fine sandy clay, sitting just atop a decomposed granite bottom. The daily count at Wellingrove can be about 2 ounces of sapphire and zircon per day. Their size is generally but their quality is very high. There is a high concentrate of spinel in each sieve however. I would keep all centres. (Patrick OíBrien) We dug here all day and found NOTHING. Some found specks right down at the lower end of the fossicking area. Sapphires are found at the lower end at about 5 feet. OK if you have the time. The area has all been filled in and there is no way of telling what has been previously dug and what hasnít. Recently (late 2003) a friend advised me that some fossickers in his group got onto a good bit of sapphire producing wash and did quite well, but that seems to be the exception rather that the rule.
 

EMMAVILLE - Emmaville Gold Fields, Willingra, Open Cut Mines at Culaden North of Emmaville. There is Mrs Curnow's Mineral Museum in the old bakery shop. It is possible without difficulty to find specimens of molybdenite. There is also one of the best museums. It is the "Emmaville Mining Museum" and it contains some of the best specimens of Smoky Quartz, Topaz, Emerald etc I have seen for quite a while. It is well worth a visit and the staff there are extremely helpful. The museum is open Friday to Monday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and other times by appointment. The phone number is 02 6734 7025.  Permanent displays include the Curnow collection, Historic Photographs, a Black Smith's Shop and the interior of a miners hut. The museum is located in Moore Street, Emmaville. There are also two Hotels in Emmaville where the visitor can obtain a comfortable room and there is also a Caravan Park in town.
 

Part of  The Emmaville Mining Museum Inside

 

TINGHA - Jelly Beans. Many Jelly beans can be found in the Old Mill area.. If you come back to Tingha and head South West out of town and take the right fork past the club, drive for about 6 km. There is a creek crossing where large clear crystal was found by me.

 

HOWELL - Now here is a hidden treasure. During our Easter 2001 stay in Inverell we discovered the Historic township of Howell. It is located about 10 km South of the Tingha turnoff on the Inverell / Tingha Road and is about 9 km east on the Howell road which also takes you to Copeton dam. There are still relics of the Conrad and King Conrad Silver Mines. The site of the old township and mine are located on private property and the owner runs tours from 9 am to 5 pm every day except Tuesdays. Contact details, phone Gary on 02 6723 3180. Fossicking for Tin, Galena Quartz Crystals and other minerals can be done on the property. I understand Diamonds can also be found by the lucky fossicker. It is advised that the Mines Department is about to resume the Mining lease upon this area and that public access may soon be denied. Recently (mid 2003) I was advised that fossicking at HOWELL has been closed. Sorry about that (yet another one).

OLD MILL - There is a road that heads North (left from Tingha) that goes to an old tin mine. The digging is a huge trench in red soil about 50 metres wide and 30 metres deep. This is probably worth a good scratch around in. I would expect to find Tin, Quartz Crystals and maybe Topaz.
 

STANNIFER - There are also very nice silver grey Jelly Beans found in the creek about 4 km East of Stannifer which is North East of Tingha.
 

GREEN VALLEY FARM - Probably a good half day would be needed to be spent here. There are bar-b-ques available, but there is also a Kiosk that does the best hot chips.
 

GLEN INNES/PINKETT - Pinkett is South of Inverell and South of Kingsgate. Dwyer's is a paid dig $4.00 per person per day. It is located 27 km from the tourist Office at Glen Innes along the Pinkett road. A Dwyers sign post points up the road on the right. Follow a rough but trafficable track for a further 3 km crossing an old bridge and up to a cattle yard and shed on the right. The track then winds up to Yarrow's Creek. The diggings begin immediately at this spot. The fossicker must pay at the Tourist Information Centre at Glen Innes. The digging here is easy. The ground is merely river sand and once wash is discovered luck will find sapphires and topaz. This sounds like a very lovely spot even for a picnic as the area is grassed and next to a crystal clear creek. I have been advised that good sapphires are coming from Yarrow Creek. You go through the gate and drive as far as you can . There are faint track marks in paddock. A further digging includes Nunans - Open cut sapphire mine. Another digging is Wattleridge.
 

GLEN INNES/BOOLABINDA We spent a day fossicking and digging at a place called Boolabinda, which is located about 15km North West of Glen Innes. The digging is in rocky ground, but you do find sapphires. It is a private pay dig, but there is a powered caravan park with several sites and numerous bush camping spots. The farmhouse has a very nice common room with a large fireplace. There are also small cabin type rooms and a common kitchen. Quite a nice little place is Boolabinda.
 

KINGSGATE - 20 km East of Glen Innes is the Kingsgate mine. This area is famous for giant clear and smoky quartz crystals. Specimens of 13 kg crystals have been located in this area. It is private and it is $5.00 per person per day. Kingsgate mine Qld 25 is a hole to see. It is recommended to have a shoulder bag for specimens, as it is easier to carry up the slopes. Also bring a geo pick. Citrines also can be found here. I have been told that the owner of the Kingsgate Property has moved on. I understand that presently he is not available to collect the monies. It is probably worthwhile to check at the Glen Innes Information Centre.
   

In 1999 we stayed at the Inverell Caravan Park, but the Caravan Park up near the Lake in Eastern Inverell also looked quite nice.

Last updated 25/03/04.

To all have a great time and happy fossicking.

The END

Paul Clacher         
 

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