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Topics - Fullerton

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Fossicking Locations / Fullarton garnet field 2017 season
« on: April 04, 2017, 05:55:44 PM »
A few members asked if the Fullarton garnet field near Cloncurry NW Qld was open in 2017.

I can confirm the site is open for the 2017 season. I saw the property owner in Cloncurry today and he confirmed its accessibility for fossickers and has asked that people do the right thing regarding keeping to the main track, not cutting up roads when they're wet and not leaving rubbish around.

He plans to grade the access track (at his own expense and time) in the next few weeks. 

Please do the right thing and keep in mind the the site is on a private property and ongoing access is dependent on the goodwill of the property hosts.

Happy fossicking .... and I hope to see a few of you here for the Cloncurry Gem and Mineral Festival in late June - early July.



The rock saw coolant oil barrel is getting low and I need to raise funds for a new supply.

Consequently, I've been cutting a few slabs and hope to have enough sales before the oil runs dry ...  :-\

Need some Aussie rough slabs for cutting? Come and have a look at my page



Gemstone Discussions / GGT May 2014
« on: April 30, 2014, 08:13:15 PM »
Something must be wrong ... I got my copy of the May edition of Gold, Gem and Treasure before the southerners?

My article on fossicking for chrysocolla in north west Queensland is in this edition. It includes a cameo with Toppster.

Apart from the usual gold and treasure detecting articles, there's also a story on the recent 753ct sapphire find in the Central Highlands gemfields. Patrick O'Brien has also written an article about various shakers and other contraptions for sieving.


Custom made and designed pendants using Australian (NW Qld) chrysocolla and jasper. Each pendant is about 56 x 24mm.

Set in stamped sterling silver, mirror finish. Prices as marked in image. 925 sterling chains also available for $15. Add $10 for shipping or free pick up.

Trip Talk / Thailand exploration
« on: January 10, 2014, 09:51:44 PM »
After the fun and adventure of my last overseas trip to Vietnam, 12 months later I find myself at another South East Asian destination - Thailand.

Arrived in Bangkok last night and had a late dinner (10:30pm local time but a very tiring 1:30am in Qld) so slept in and had a late breakfast. Left the hotel about 10:00am to a beautiful warm day.

Tried walking to Lamberts only to get lost three times ... supposed to be only a 15 minute walk from the hotel but we gave up after 45 minutes and got a taxi. Khanit at Lamberts gave me a warm welcome and I was able to offload my zircon and prehnite rough for cutting. I had wondered about the wisdom of carrying mildly radioactive zircon through two airports but must not be enough to register any concern with security. I bought four sparkling 6mm peridot from Lamberts for a very modest cost before leaving.

After Lamberts we (me, the missus and our three boys) headed over to China Town only to found out nothing much happens there until after 5:00pm. To get there, my wife had arranged two tuk tuks. They were cheap but we had to spend 5 minutes at a tailor's shop as part of the 'price' as they were their 'sponsors' ... I'll arrange the tuk tuk's next time I thought.

We then wandered around aimlessly and found a great little cafe filled with locals .... I figured the food must be good and it was. 5 meals plus rice and drinks for under AU$20.

Afterwards, we kept wandering around and inexplicably found 'silver street' ... Krung something or other. I ducked into a shop at the first sign of gems and bought some sunstone rough. My wife and boys grew impatient which transitioned into a quiet rage. I had to choose quickly... my wife and boys or gems  :-\ I chose gems and sent them back to the hotel in a taxi.

I continued onto a series of gem stores ... avoiding the glitzy looking one's and going for what looked run-down but authentic. I bought some lapis lazuli, fluorite and lots of tektites. I love tektites and picked pieces for their character and differences.

Anyway, have returned to scowling looks from the Missus so will have to temper the resentment with a nice dinner and tempering wine.

Day 1 in Thailand complete  :)

Will post pics if and when I can.

General Discussion / Colourful Chinese mountains - Zhangye Danxia
« on: September 14, 2013, 09:24:37 PM »
Did some of my usual random internet surfing tonight and stumbled across Zhangye Danxia. Incredible coloured mountains in China. There are many websites that highlight the area, here's one ....

... and one from Youtube Zhangye Danxia Landform

They look mostly sandstone but there are some coloured congolmerates there too ... cabbing material  :-\

I thought someone had played with their imaging software to get colours this awesome!  :o


General Discussion / Amazing sea glass beaches
« on: August 25, 2013, 12:35:38 PM »
I was doing some random internet searches and came across information about glass beach in California. The beach glass was created by locals dumping their rubbish over a sea cliff over a century ago. It's now a protected area.

Interesting history and amazing pics here ...

After more searching it appears there are a few of these places about including one in Hawaii.

More info and pics here ...


Hoping that maybe a few of you will be in Cloncurry for the Rockhana Gem and Mineral Festival (Friday 5th, Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July) so say 'g'day' at my stall if you do  :D

I'll give any ALF member who attends a free ruby cabochon (most with good to fuzzy stars) ... is it too late to pack the car you're thinking?  :-\

If you can't make it, I've increased my internet store discount for ALF members to 20% for gemstones. My store only accepts US$ so with a falling Aussie dollar, I want to ensure you are still getting a great deal ... and for July only I'll throw in a natural and untreated ruby cabochon with every order.


Show us your latest finished product / Cloncurry gem creations
« on: June 10, 2013, 10:30:58 AM »
Thought I'd share some of the gem creations I make or have made for me. Many use the gems I have found while fossicking or even some from overseas travel.

Most of all I like using locally found gemstones like garnets and amethysts. This is a five-stone setting in sterling silver ... all Fullarton River garnets.

I also buy gems from around the world. Here are some star rubies I had made for me under consignment.

These are mostly star rubies I had set for me in sterling silver. There's also a couple of stunning black star diopside (third row from bottom) and a moonstone (second row from top).

They are all untreated so a little more splotchy than a heated/fissure filled rubies.

But I love the natural ruby colour variation (pinks, red, purplish red, grey-red, grey and even one that's a bronze). The crystaline structure shows up very well in many too.

I'm currently preparing items for the Cloncurry Show (14-15 June) and the Cloncurry Rockhana Gem and Mineral Festival (5 - 7 July). Say g'day if you are either of these events.

I'll post a few more items as they're produced.


By the end of our fossicking time at Mud Tank we were fairly exhausted. We could easily understand the need for long term stayers to pace themselves through half-day fossicking sessions. On the last day of the dig we looked back over our site and what appeared to be a kidney shaped swimming pool excavation. All up we’d moved, sieved, washed and/or sorted through an area perhaps 4m wide by 6 metres long and about 0.8m deep.

Where's the pool liner when I need one!

I’m not sure of Toppsters zircon haul, but I kept my daily finds separate and they measured (not in chronological order): 552g, 355g, 312g, 1008g, 530g, 649g, 599g and 125g.

My total being 4130grams or 4.13kg or 20,650ct.

Funnily enough, I’d also lost 4kg of weight from the fossicking ‘boot camp’.

My best day of 1008g (yes, that’s over 1kg!) was helped by a ‘bomb’ of 517g (2585ct).

A few older fossickers remarked that Mud Tank wasn’t as productive as it had been in years gone by … but I’m not so sure. I was still digging virgin ground and if it’s the right spot, then perhaps it’s mostly about having the right gear and puting in the hard yards.

Most of the stones we found were pinks, purples, clears and cognac golden browns. I am yet to do much sorting but realise only a few percent will be facet quality. Nevertheless there must be well over 50 potential cutters … maybe even a hundred or more.

Given the great fossicking companionship (snoring aside) and the results, I could not have been happier with my first trip to Harts Range.


For days 5 to 8 we maintained steadfastly to the zircon hunt. We were being worn down physically though as we were often the first fossickers on site and the last to leave each day and our lunch breaks were usually a brief 10 minutes in the shade near the car.

Each day we seemed to sleep in later … using the excuse that we wanted the donkey to heat up the shower water (the fire wasn’t started until 6:30am each morning) before having a wash.

Our so called Goldilocks climate window did not quite pan out perfectly. The day time temps still nudged the mid-30’s or more. Ironically a very cold change moved through only two days after we left carrying some rain after we left.

With not a skerrick of shade around, you felt the heat most when benching the hole (removing the upper loam to more easily access the wash layer). The alternative, of digging out the wash under the loam first, usually led to bank collapses that mixed wash and loam together.

Here's our shaker table in action

The wash layer of our hole was usually obvious although highly variable. The left hand side of my hole had a thick (to 60cm) layer of wash with extra large boulders and I found most of the zircon towards the top of this layer … maybe the heavier zircon couldn’t fall past the large stones?

The front of my hole had a wash layer of 5 to 30cm with mostly small to medium sized stones but occasional large ironstones. Most of my best zircon was from the base of this wash layer including some XLS bombs.

Pic showing the top soil and wash layers

Close up pic of the good wash

Even though passionate about the zircon quest, it was easy to become weary from the dig-sieve-wash-sort monotony.  To freshen up mentally as well as physically we would wander off to speck for apatite, zircon or even the super interesting iron ‘crystals’.

I was still enamoured by apatite and one particular walk-about yielded a hand-sized weather worn crystal that had reasonable crystal faces.

I was amazed that I could usually speck a few zircon cutters in a half hour session off the undisturbed ground that must have been walked over countless times. Every one of these surface stones was clear and/or white perhaps lending weight to the theory that they lost colour over time to sun exposure?

Toppster specking

There's one!

On one of our wanders around the field we came across two young Belgians who had already been there for a month. They planned to stay six months and we warned them about the oncoming cold of June – July before the latter heat expected from October. But they were keen and had already excavated a large area.

Our Belgian friends

Belgians benching their hole

Most of their sorting was tediously done by hand at the wash face and we introduced them to our ‘high tech’ shaker table and Willoughby. They seemed great fellas and on my last day I gifted them a cold coke and pack of chips each … small gifts but received as if it was part of a Christmas festivity.

They really didn’t know what they’d do with their zircons but hoped for a reasonable profit selling cut stones through European jewellers. Good on them I thought — whatever small piece of Australia they take will return in spades through the visits made by their friends and relatives based on the stories they tell of their adventures at Harts Range.

At this stage of the trip report, I should mention that Toppster and I ran two competitions during the course of our stay in Harts Range. The results of the first competition was discussed in the mornings when we would compare the ‘alleged’ volume and continuity of our respective snoring.

We were both so bad (apparently as I can only vouch for Toppster’s abilities as I’ve never heard myself snore) that it became necessary to race each other to sleep … the loser bearing the noise of the winners snoring. So perhaps it was the incessant snoring that actually kept the ferocious dingoes at bay?

The second competition was discussed at days end. It was for the biggest and best zircons. Invariably, I would find the biggest zircon bomb but Toppster would find the best facet quality.

We’d done quite well on our first two days when we received word from a Gem Tree staffer than a club had done well near the mine only a few weeks back. So we left a bucket to keep our Mud Tank hole and proceeded on the morning of the third day over to this new site. Two hours of digging and only a cutter or two. Anything big was a clear colour while most of the little pieces (2 to 4mm) were orange and reds. From talking with some of the older regulars, back in the 70’ and 80’s many fossickers were after the clear stones for facet material. It looks boring to me but maybe back them it was more desired as it was a close match to diamonds for lustre.

So back we went to our original site which had been kept safe from marauders by our bucket site claimer.  We did one more day here until again we met up with our GT staffer mate. The information provided now indicated a change of focus to garnets was required. We maintained our zircon claim and did a day trip to the garnet fields. First port of call was a site opposite the Mineral Lease where old diggings were present. We couldn’t see anything fresh and there were very few ‘scraps’ of garnets lying around … give it a miss we thought. And I was starting to think the staffer might not have much of an idea about fossicking after all?

We continued east along the Plenty Highway and at about 36km turned right into the main garnet field. This time Toppster recalled running into an old fella somewhere that said if you followed a certain track into the hills and then walked on foot a further kilometre or three, there were still some bigger than golf ball sized clean garnets to be found. I questioned the story but Toppster had actually seen the stones that came out of there … so that was that.

We passed the main garnet diggings and continued on a track past an awesome knife-edged ridge

...until it stopped at the base of some low hills. We put our backpacks on and started up into the hills and were soon inadvertently separated and in our own little fossicking worlds. I approached the hill the same way as at the Fullarton Garnet Fields of Qld and looked for where garnet may erode out of schist between sheets of other harder rock.  I was soon rewarded with some garnets the size of large marbles. They were intact crystals that would roll out as you dug … it seemed as good as it gets. In the back of my mind though, I knew these may be heavily weathered and fractured.

After an hour I started wondering how far Toppster had gotten only to see him coming up the hill wearing a ‘I’ve found a better gem than you’ look. He was right as he’d come across some clear, yellow and orange calcite crystals that were super clean and in pristine condition. Though only an inch or two long, to me they looked museum quality. Toppster explained that he’d gone off track several hundred metres and came across a burnt out area and these few crystals were just ‘ripe for the picking’.

We busted  up a few of my garnets … a potentially wasteful task … but one that proved that indeed, most of the garnets were in fact weathered and cracked. Here's a pick after tumbling when I got home with them

So we headed back to the main garnet field and sieved for intact clear pieces of what had started as large garnets.

I found a large and deep fox hole while Toppster scraped the edges of a more open site. I was getting some big garnet bombs and even though Toppster protested that they were junk … I said I haven’t come this far not to take back a half bucket of garnet, whether they were any good or not. Within an hour I had my half bucket. Some pics ...

This garnet foray led us to believe that there was in fact garnet in lots of places in Harts Range but perhaps the best material was limited and it would take more time to narrow a search. So with several facet-worthy shards of garnets each, we retreated back to our reliable zircon patch and did a few more hours digging to finish the day.

More pics ...

Edited by Admin to include the pics as thumbnails (this works better).

I’d been dreaming of getting across to Harts Range for several years. My wife and kids can handle day trips and overnighters but a fully fledged fossicking expedition is beyond their patience levels.

So when fellow ALF member Toppster suggested we make the journey across from Mount Isa/Cloncurry respectively I said ‘let’s lock in dates’. We went with early May as it should have been the Goldilocks period of not too hot, not too cold … just right!

In Toppster’s quest to arrive within one day’s drive … my journey started with a 1:30am wakeup and pack, in the car by 2:15am and at Toppsters by 3:45am. I was already 15 minutes late cause I couldn’t remember the easiest way to his house through Mount Isa and then I couldn’t read house numbers in the dark.

After reloading gear into Toppsters durable trailer and vehicle … off we went at about 4:30am. After 12 or so hours we eventually came to the Plenty Highway turn-off and then arrived at Gem Tree about 6:00pm. Our hosts were very friendly and guided us to our site by quad bike. We had enough light left in the sky to establish ‘Topp Camp’ as I called it.

Now I encourage anyone who can to ‘camp’ with Toppster as he will spare no luxury that will fit in the car and trailer. We had a large marquee with wind breaks on the sides, three ice coolers plus a fridge/freezer, camp kitchen, tables, tabletop bbq, gas cooker, etc etc etc.

So it was we got an early sleep that night dreaming of what zircons might present themselves over the next eight days. Sleep was sometimes difficult as we were serenaded by howling dingoes close to camp in the pre-dawn hours. This wouldn’t have been a concern except that I’d decided to entrust in my basic camp …a 1946 army issue camp stretcher and battered swag open to the elements.

The chances of being woken by a dingo licking my face was a fleeting thought. Toppster meanwhile got to sleep quick in his ‘tent cot’ which I’m sure had crim-safe style fly mesh to keep out any stray Canis lupus.

Gemstone Discussions / Double your chances guessing competition
« on: March 24, 2013, 01:56:08 PM »
Here's one final competition to celebrate the new look forum ... and this time you have double the chance of winning!

I have two untreated natural star rubies between 10 and 11 carats each. 

One has a nice star and other other a fuzzy star but a beaut pinky red colour. Unfortunately it's cloudy here again (but still stinking hot) and the pic looks dull ... so I didn't represent the colours too well.

The two members with the closest guesses to two decimal places gets a ruby each.

This competition closes at 12:00pm EST/Qld time Monday 25th March ... less than 24 hours to get entries in.


Gemstone Discussions / Celebrate the new look forum competition!
« on: March 23, 2013, 09:44:00 AM »

I thought I'd do something to celebrate the new look forum ... so I'm offering these 2 star rubies and 2 star sapphires to the member who has the closest guess of the total carat weight.

So that I'm not infringing on the Easter comp, this is a one day competition ... closing at 9:00pm today (EST).

Clue: the total carat weight is between 19 and 20 carats.

Let's see how many entries we can get in the next 12 hours!

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