Fossicking is a regulated activity in Queensland and requires a fossicking licence.
This licence allows you to search for and collect fossicking materials for recreational, tourist and educational purposes only.
This guide explains what tools you are allowed to use and where you can fossick. It also explains your responsibilities under fossicking legislation in regards to safety, hygiene and behaviour.
If you have any questions about fossicking, contact the local mining office.
You can receive an on-the-spot fine or be prosecuted if you breach the provisions of your fossicking licence.
Stay safe while fossicking by observing the following principles.
Provided you have a fossicking licence and the written permission of the landowner, you may fossick on most land throughout the state.
However, fossicking is not permitted in:
If in doubt, check with the local mining registrar.
No permission is required to fossick on unoccupied land, unless there has been a determination of native title.
No special permission is required to fossick on road reserves, but fossickers may only collect and not dig.
You need the landholder's written permission to fossick on private land, except in areas where the landholder has given a general permission to the mining registrar allowing fossicking and camping (see below). If more than one landholder is involved, all must give permission.
The landholder's permission must be endorsed on or attached to your fossicking licence. The landholder may impose conditions for access, including the payment of fees. Landholders may withdraw permission at any time provided adequate notice is given to remove equipment.
In some areas, landholders have given general permission for fossicking and camping on specific areas of their properties. Fossickers do not require the landholder’s permission to fossick in these areas but must abide by any conditions of access and may be required to pay a fee.
These areas have been established by the government in cooperation with local governments and landholders. They are signposted and publicised as part of a statewide network to assist the tourism industry. Commercial mining tenures are allowed in fossicking lands but not in fossicking areas.
Other than a fossicking licence, no special permissions or fees apply. Fossickers must not enter any areas held under mining leases and claims without the permission of the lease or claim holder.
The Fossicking Act 1994 and associated regulations contain requirements for fossickers to maintain safety, hygiene and a high standard of behaviour during their visits.
Landholders should contact the local mining registrar if unacceptable activities occur.
Infringement notices (on-the-spot fines) and prosecutions may be used to enforce the provisions of the legislation. Breaches may also result in cancellation of licences.
These responsibilities apply to all fossicking areas.
When fossicking, you must not:
On leaving a site:
Within watercourses, you must not:
On leaving, refill all excavations and place excess material so as to minimise disturbance to the channel and significant streamflows.
Within designated fossicking lands and areas you must not:
On leaving a site, you must make all excavations safe for future fossickers, stock and landholders if necessary, as instructed by the authorised officers.
Fossickers must comply with any special conditions of access.
Your fossicking licence allows you to search for and collect fossicking materials using hand tools and for recreational, tourist and educational purposes only.
Hand tools such as picks, shovels, hammers, sieves, shakers, electronic detectors and other similar tools can be used. No machinery is permitted.
You can collect from the surface or by digging, but you are not permitted to dig below 2m of the natural ground surface of land or below 0.5m in streams. Overhangs and tunnels are not allowed.
On road reserves, no digging is permitted but collection from existing exposures is allowed.
You can collect gemstones, ornamental stones, mineral specimens, alluvial gold (including nuggets) and some fossil specimens, but not meteorites and fossils of vertebrate animals.
You can sell the occasional ‘lucky find’ of a gemstone or sell and trade to hobbyists or through fairs and exhibitions. However, repeated removal for sale through shops or businesses, or as part of making a living, is considered commercial, and requires tenure under the Mineral Resources Act 1989.
Royalties are payable on fossicking materials that are the property of the Crown, but threshold exemptions of $100,000 mean that generally most fossickers are not liable.
Fossicking rules and responsibilities, 28 May 2018, [https://www.qld.gov.au/recreation/activities/areas-facilities/fossicking/rules]
This document is uncontrolled when printed. Before using the information in this document you should verify the current content on https://www.qld.gov.au/recreation/activities/areas-facilities/fossicking/rules.