Central Queensland gemfields

Willows designated fossicking land

Willows is a discrete area of open bushland and semi-cleared areas centered on the small township of Willows Gemfields south of the Capricorn Highway. Sapphire-bearing is extensive throughout most of the area.


Turn off the Capricorn Highway to the south, 69km west of Emerald, and follow the mostly sealed road for 9km to the signpost indicating the northern entrance to Willows. The road continues through the area to the township.



There are two caravan/camping areas, a shop, post office, telephone, fuel and water supplies. Private camping is not permitted. One mining claim offers visitors buckets of wash and equipment to try their luck for a small fee.

Fossicking notes

Wash is extensive throughout most of the area.

In the north, the Duffer contains sapphire-bearing wash, which varies from 500mm in depth in the south-east to 2m in the north. It consists of pebbles and boulders of billy in a red-brown soil, resting on a yellowish sandstone-mudstone. Sapphires are predominantly greens and yellows and blues are rare. An interesting geobotanical feature is that blackbutt trees grow profusely on the wash but there are few elsewhere.

The Rubbish Tip area, south-west of and perhaps a continuation of the Duffer run, has similar wash, except that it is mostly shallow, less than 500mm deep. Augies Gully, which is located on the western side of the area, has produced some good finds in recent years, particularly large yellows.

The Thru-the-Fence locality appears to be the most popular area to fossick, as it is just to the east of the township and caravan parks. The wash is similar in appearance to other parts, and on average about 600m deep. Some good quality and large stones have been found here, mostly greens, yellows and stars. Zircons and rare diamonds have also been found.

Special conditions

An area of water facilities north of the town (RA 176) is excluded from the designated fossicking land.

Fossicking and camping are not permitted on the mining leases and claims in these areas without the permission of the holders. Details of these can be obtained from the local mining registrar.

There are currently a mining lease (ML 7295) and a mining claim (MC 3630) in the Thru-the-Fence area.

In this guide:

  1. Willows designated fossicking land
  2. Glenalva fossicking area
  3. Middle Ridge fossicking area
  4. Big Bessie fossicking area
  5. Graves Hill fossicking area
  6. Tomahawk Creek fossicking area
  7. Sapphire/Rubyvale designated fossicking land

Print entire guide