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Author Topic: Fullerton and Toppsters Most Excellent Harts Range Adventure (Part 4)  (Read 2943 times)

Fullerton

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PART 4 – SWIMMING POOL EXCAVATION AND BELGIAN LIAISON
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.

« Last Edit: May 27, 2013, 11:40:10 PM by Fullerton »
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steveo

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great story again.
Steve

mehoose

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good read!
Looks like there's going to be a massive pool there by the time Summer comes back around. ;)
Tell me, are the holes ever filled back in?
Keep em comin!!!

Fullerton

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Quote
are the holes ever filled back in?

We had arranged to give our site over to a lovely lady who was digging with her teenage daughter and son. They were from the Atherton/Mareeba area from memory. The husband tagged along but we didn't see him much as he had a crook back. They were having problems finding a reliable wash layer.

I would barely see the point of backfilling at Mud Tank. The slope is very low and there's negligible erosion risk and all the holes are usually 0.3m to 1m deep. Eventually the cratering will also aid natural rehabilitation of the site.

Nearly every hole that is abandonded seems to be taken over by whoever is next on the field. Cattle wander through but seem to stay out of the cratered area itself.

Old holes seem to slump down after a wet year or two so there's very rarely any sheer drop that could cause problems.

If no-one was to take the hole over, I would have collapsed the bank to get rid of the 0.8m vertical drop but there wouldn't have been any merit in a comprehensive backfill.
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mehoose

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yeah, you had me wondering when in one pic it looks like a ramp of dirt to get back out which would also be handy if an animal did decide to fossick too.
Keep em comin!!!

Fullerton

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I didn't see a hole there that a cow or calf couldn't have gotten back out of.
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toppster

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The cows arent sposed to be in there its fenced ,I did see them in there though.

 

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