Back in Victoria and I’ve been rather slack in not posting on the blog for well over a month. I spent about a month in the vicinity of Tingha fossicking for many different shiny rocks and I had planned to write a very long blog post explaining my fossicking experiences around the area. I have written a lot of the post, but it’s taking a long time and I haven’t organized much in the way of any photo’s for the post either, so we’re skipping it for the moment, to be finished at a later date.
So we begin with leaving the Tingha area. While at Tingha I’d asked Bill and Deb where they would go if they could go anywhere fossicking and heading south. Bill’s answer was a resounding “Mount Hope”. So I headed towards Mount Hope, only about a lazy 900km from where I was, but it’s heading me in roughly the right direction. Head west till you hit Bourke, then turn south, easy. It was interesting to visit Bourke and some of the more remote areas in northern and central NSW though quite warm out this way. I mainly just drove and didn’t do a lot of sight seeing or taking photos along the way.
It had also been pretty wet, in fact so wet that the road had disappeared in some places. It was well organized though, they had automated little traffic lights like they have on road works so that there was only ever traffic in one direction through flooded areas. A damn good idea because although the water was only about a foot deep you couldn’t really see the road so you just drive centrally between the orange poles and hope they haven’t moved much with the flow. Actually it wasn’t too bad at this point where I took the photo, you can just make out the dotted line in the centre of the road.
Some of the country I was driving through was rather unexciting, miles and miles of flat bare nothing way off into the distance. It did have me wondering, when I’m meant to be heading off to Mount Hope and there’s nothing but barren flatness as far as I could see. Still trust the map, google got me there although there really wasn’t much in the way of any mountain that I could see anywhere. Mount hope is tiny, just a small pub on the side of the road and one or two houses.
I arrived fairly late in the afternoon and it was hot, so I set up the van in a “sort of” camping area at the back/side of the pub, opened up all the windows and had something to eat. I watched a movie and after dark I noticed during some quite bits in the movie that I could hear some buzzing, that horrible sound your ear is finely tuned to hear, the sound of mosquitoes. As I walked past each open window in the van I could hear a mass of buzzing. Oh well, not much I could do about it, to close the windows I’d have to open the fly wire and I wasn’t going to do that with all the buzzing. Also it was too damn hot to think of closing the windows, I had both fans blowing on me all night. Laying in bed I was trying to get some sleep with the loud buzzing of mozzies all around me, trying to convince myself they were far away and I was safe inside.
In the morning I got a better idea of the mozzies, this was just one window, all windows were the same. Yeah I had to take a video, the photos didn’t really do them justice.
The recent wet weather had caused the mozzie population to explode, they were shocking and not only around during the night, they were out and about all day long which made my fossicking rather uncomfortable. luckily I’d found my fly net, and although the weather was pretty warm I was in long pants, long sleeve shirt, big hat and a fly net. The little buggers were still biting through the clothes though but I managed to dig and sieve for a couple of days and collected quite a stack of quartz crystals. The fossicking area is about 2kms from where I was camped and realistically I would have camped at the fossicking area if my van was a little smaller, plenty of other people have been camped there in the past.
The fossicking here reminded me of sieving buckets up in Rubyvale, a little bit of sieving and then a long time picking out the bits you want to keep. The ground was very muddy here and dry sieving was pointless, you had to get your sieve into a tub of water and work the clay around with your hands to break it up. Once it was all broken up you would generally be left with dozens of lovely clear crystals to pick out of your sieve. Nothing massive in the way of size with the average being about 30mm long x 5mm wide, though after looking around the other diggings, I wondered if perhaps there were larger ones in other areas. Still after a couple of days I was running out of water and I had enough for the moment.
It’s only now that I’m camped up in Victoria that I got a chance to go through all the crystals and sort them, I’m pretty happy with the haul, almost 2 litres of lovely clean crystals. Well not clean as such, they still have a lot of the red mud staining on them that I’ll have to try and clean off but there are some lovely specimens including many
multi headed, conjoined, groups, families crystals stuck together.
To give you an idea of just how much there is here, I’ve marked on a photo below all of the crystals easily seen on the surface. This was someones old mullock heap, it was their rubbish they had already picked through, and I’d already picked over this a couple of times grabbing the best bits off the surface before I decided to take a picture of the dirt.
There really is a lot of quartz crystal here, if you don’t mind fighting off the mozzies and flies, bring lots of water and a washing tub, your sieve a pick and spade and you can’t go wrong. Oh except for the vicious plants.
these little seed balls are everywhere among the grassy stubble and those spikes are really pointy, not just pointy, notice there are little white barbs all the way up each spike, and they break apart into little V shapes with two spikes. When these go in they are REALLY hard to get out, I threw a pair of socks away because they were so full of them and so hard to get out.
This one is similar, little barbs on every point, when they pierce the skin they are very hard to pull out, I had to put on leather gloves to clean them off my boots and laces. But lovely place, apart from the swarms of mozzies, the mobs of flies, the heat, the muddy claggy ground and the painful plants hiding everywhere, well worth a visit.
Still, onward further south I crossed the river and border into Victoria at Swan Hill, then down through Tittybong I stopped for the night at Donald. I had to stop the night here because I couldn’t get the van in at the fuel station and I desperately needed fuel, I drove the last couple of hundred kilometres without the air conditioning running in over 35 degree heat to try and conserve fuel. So unhitch the van in Donald at the caravan park, then go fill up with fuel and fill up with water. This is really getting into wheat and sheep country now but I’m heading for the Glendinning camp ground on the edge of the Rocklands reservoir.
Lovely free camp spot here with long drop toilets. actually there are many camp spots around the reservoir and just this camp area along covers many acres, you can drive for a couple of kilometres either direction from the main camp site and there are sites everywhere for you to pull over so you can really get away from it all if you want to and find a very private camp. Some people have been here for quite a while by the look of it, in fact I met a guy Damian who works in the area and he told me that one of the people here has been camping in his van for about 12 months. He’s rather large and drives a little mobility scooter from his van up to the toilets.
Now just when you think perhaps I’m getting away from the rocks for a while and back into plants….
This is why I’ve come down this way. It’s very hard to get an idea of these things with a photo but this is a Mooralla smoky quartz crystal and they are unlike any other smokey quartz anywhere in the world. Most smokey’s are just quarts with a brown colour to it, these ones are beautifully clear and the smoky colour is in the form of wisps of brown through the crystal, if you look closely you can see the wispy brown, it really is like it’s captured smoke within it. There’s also a little baby crystal growing out the side of this one.
I spent a couple of days at the Mooralla fossicking area but I was only specking and scratching around in old heaps other people have left behind. There was a lot of water around and the ground was filled with clay, plus I’d read up about getting these crystals before hand. If you want the good stuff you have to dig and when I saw dig, I mean dig! They talk about most people spending between 2 and 4 weeks here and digging down about 20 feet to where you get them. Everything has to be done by hand, you need ladders and a windlass to lift the dirt up to the surface, you have to build a structure and use tarps to stop water getting in your hole when it rains, and all holes have to be filled in when you leave.
The fossicking area is out of the way, about 45 minutes from where I was camped, many people camp at the site but the 9km track in to the site is pretty rough and if it’s been raining you’d need to be very careful. Sill I’m happy, ended up with 30-40 good crystals most only around 1cm or so but I got half a dozen big ones like in the picture above.
It’s been a fossicking area for decades, the only public fossicking area in Victoria, and it’s been well dug over. Which is good for people like me, it means that they have dug the good deep dirt up to the surface and refilled holes over and over so there are many crystals brought up to the surface in the clay, then with a bit of rain it can wash things clean and leave the crystals sitting on top.