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New England - Gone fossicking, don't wait up

Gone fossicking, don't wait up - Quick Facts
Tourist Information
Glen Innes Fossickers Way
NSW Department of Primary Industries



All you need to know before you start digging around in the dirt

What is fossicking?

Fossicking is the gathering of mineral deposits or objects. It is usually done recreationally by individuals in a way that does not disturb the land or water by the use of machinery or explosives.

Do I need a licence?

While fossicking licences are no longer required you still need to get a permit to fossick in NSW State Forests and there are a number of guidelines which must be observed. More information on fossicking in State forests.

Where can I go fossicking?

Fossickers are now required to seek the consent of Western Lands Leaseholders prior to entry, as is the case for all other classes of landholders and leaseholders. For entry onto other lands fossickers need the landholder's consent.

Is there anywhere I can fossick without getting consent?

Yes. There are currently nine areas in NSW called fossicking districts where you can fossick without obtaining permission. They are  

Ophir near Bathurst  Inverell  Tumbarumba 
Severn  Cooma-Monaro  Tallaganda. 
Nundle  Young   

To obtain maps or advice on the specific whereabouts of these areas call the Department of Mineral Resources. The Mining Act also allows fossicking on vacant crown land and government-owned land that is restricted to grazing. It's best to check the status of any area before you go looking for riches.

How do I get information about who owns the land?

You usually get this information from the Local Council. You can also try the local office of the Department of Land and Water conservation or State Forests.

Can I go fossicking in national parks or state forests?

Fossicking is not allowed in national parks, but you can fossick in state forests so long as you obtain permission from the local State Forests office, which will also advise you of any regulations or rules of which you will need to be aware.

What else do I need to know?

  • You can't use explosives or machines to fossick - only hand-held, but not power-driven, implements
  • You can't fossick on land or in waters that are under native title unless consent is given
  • You can't excavate or clear land or water to fossick
  • You can't damage or remove bush rock
  • You can't remove more than 25kg of minerals, 50g of gold or 100g of gemstones in any 48-hour period
  • What happens if I don't comply with any of these guidelines?
  • A fine of up to $1,100 can be enforced by a Department of Mineral Resources environmental officer.

Can I use a metal detector?

Yes. Metal detectors are considered part of the fossicker's equipment, as are picks, shovels and gold pans.

If I find anything of value, who owns it?

You do - providing you have consent to fossick and you remove it lawfully.

Where are the best places to fossick in NSW?

  • Opals - anywhere in White Cliffs and Lightning Ridge
  • Gold panning in Bathurst and Nundle and surrounding areas
  • Sapphires in the alluvial gravel of creeks in the New England area, particularly around Inverell, Glencoe, Emmaville and Glen Innes.
  • Gems and semi-precious stones such as topaz, beryl, quartz crystals, emerald, zircon and garnet are all common to the Glen Innes area.

Are there any success stories?

Plenty. Tourist information offices in any of the areas where fossicking is common will have stories of small fortunes being made, although it probably depends on your definition of a small fortune. For example, in Lightning Ridge recently, a man found an opal that paid for his car registration. And that was a small fortune to him.

Where can I get more information about fossicking?

To view a holiday offer

Click here >

All information was correct at the time of writing but may change without notice.

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