Northern Queensland fossicking

Lava Plains fossicking area

Lava Plains, located between Mount Garnet and Greenvale, is well known as a collecting locality for sapphires. Small deposits of spinel and zircon have also been extensively worked in this area in the past.

Two general permission fossicking areas more than 120 hectares in size have been designated at Lava Plains, with the Mines Hill general permission area currently open to fossickers.


Lava Plains is on the Kennedy Development Road about 60km north of the Lynd Junction between Mount Garnet and Greenvale. Park in the fenced car park off the main road and access the fossicking area through the turnstile.



Vehicle access and camping are not permitted within the Mines Hill general permission area.

Fossickers must carry in all equipment and water on foot.

Fossicking notes

Potential sapphire-bearing ground is generally shallow up to 1m in depth.

Gem-quality sapphires may be found in the gravel of creeks and gullies, and on the terraces adjacent to drainages. Stones may also be found in the soils in the colluvium on adjacent slopes at Mines Hill.

Deeper wash occurs in some areas of the field; however, the depth and nature of the wash may make it unsuitable for hand fossicking.

Various methods can be used to separate the gem fractions and concentrate the heavy minerals, including specking the ground surface, surface raking, shallow excavation and simple dry sieving.

With soils being generally clayey, wet sieving methods may also be necessary depending on the type of material. Some of the gravels contain abundant oversize material, including cobbles and boulders, and may be difficult to work.

Careful examination and sorting of the final concentrate is required as many of the sapphires to be found in the area may be smaller in size.

In this guide:

  1. Agate Creek fossicking area
  2. Lava Plains fossicking area
  3. Mount Gibson fossicking area
  4. Young's Block fossicking area
  5. O'Briens Creek fossicking area
  6. Moonstone Hill feldspar locality

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