Australia’s new gold rush is here, as requests for fossicking permits increase in record numbers and post-pandemic demand for gold continues to go from strength to strength – analysts predict the sector is set to grow at a compound average rate of 3.5 per cent between 2021 and 2025.
With a rich history and old mining towns galore, more and more fossicking hobbyists are making the trek to North West Queensland in search for gold and gemstones.
We’ve gathered a list of places in North West Queensland where you can fossick for gold and rare gems – and maybe even strike rich!
Agate Creek, Forsayth
Just a short 70km drive south from Forsayth, try your hand at fossicking for agates at Agate Creek – world renowned for agates of unique colours and patterns. Take in the banded gemstones of finely grained microcrystalline quartz, as you relish fossicking under a traditional bush setting in this enchanting region of North West Queensland. After a hard day of fossicking, pull up at the Agate Creek Camping Ground – a little “gem” nestled on the banks of Agate Creek and adjacent to the fossicking field.
For the traditional gold hobbyists out there, the Forsayth area is a small part of the Etheridge Goldfields that was opened for gold prospectors in the late 1800s, so with some luck on your side, you may even unearth gold missed in the rushes of the early days.
Moonstone Hill, Lyndhurst
Situated on the edge of a prehistoric inland sea, two hours’ drive from the dinosaur town of Hughenden, it’s time to search for rare moonstones – prized for their blue to white adularescence. While you may not pick up a moonstone on your fossick, Moonstone Hill has an abundance of gem-quality rock minerals, so you’re bound to find a precious piece of nature to take home for the memory books.
When the day is done, hitch a ride back to Hughenden or stay at Blackbraes National Park – an open grassy area just a stone’s throw from the fossicking site.
O’Briens Creek, Mount Surprise
35km from the scenic township of Mount Surprise, you’ll find the O’Briens Creek fossicking area. Join visitors from across Australia and beyond in the search for topaz. Don’t be fooled by the cleared and coloured topaz typically found at O’Briens Creek – what everyone is chasing is the “blues” (a one in a hundred chance!) or the even rarer “yellows” or “greens”.
Once you decide to settle in for the night, the Bedrock Village Caravan Park is a quick 20-minute drive from O’Briens Creek with everything from tent and van sits to units and cabins. As the getaway to the Undara Volcanic National Park, extend your fossicking stay and make time to explore the awe-inspiring 190,000-year-old Undara lava tube system – the longest lava tubes in the world.
An important note: Fossicking for gemstones in Queensland is a regulated activity that requires a Fossickers Licence (you can purchase online here). Licence holders do not need further permission from the landholder to enter the gazetted fossicking area to fossick.