Fossicking rules and responsibilities
Where you can fossick
Fossicking is not permitted in national parks, conservation parks, wildlife reserves, state forests and state timber reserves.
Specified fossicking land
Specified fossicking areas have been created to allow easy access for fossicking. In these areas you don’t need to obtain special permission from the landowner.
These areas include:
- General permission areas - areas where landholders have given general permission for fossicking and camping on specific areas of their properties. Make sure you follow the rules and pay the fee if required.
- Designated fossicking lands and fossicking areas - areas established by the government in cooperation with local government and landholders. They are signposted and publicised as part of a statewide network to promote local tourism. Commercial mining tenures are allowed in fossicking lands but not in fossicking areas.
Find out more about specified fossicking land:
- Central Queensland gemfields
- Central gold district
- South-eastern Queensland fossicking
- Northern Queensland fossicking
- Western opal fields
A boundary watercourse does not require permission to enter. However adjoining owners to a boundary watercourse may have rights over the land to take water or trespass rights. You should contact them for permission before fossicking.
If a watercourse is part of another land tenure, for example a land lease or freehold lot, you’ll need the landholder’s permission.
Also note that additional rules and responsibilities apply when fossicking in watercourses.
You will generally need the landholder’s written consent before fossicking on any land that isn’t specified fossicking land. Table 1 below shows some common land tenures and who to contact for permission. The next section explains how to find information about land tenure and landholders.
If the land is unoccupied (for example unallocated state land), you don’t need permission to fossick unless:
- there has been a native title determination over the land
- the land has been ‘vested’ in another agency and used for a particular purpose.
Researching land tenure and ownership details
- Wait for the map to load, then click on Layers.
- Click Add layers.
- Browse through the list of layers. Click to the right of a layer to expand the selection. Select the tickbox to the left of a layer to add it to the map. Useful layers include Cadastre layers (for land tenure and land parcel information), Native title and Administrative boundaries (to find the local government).
- Zoom in to the area of interest using the + tool and/or your mouse.
If in doubt about the tenure of the land, contact the local mining registrar.
Once you have the land parcel’s details (e.g. lot on plan number), you can obtain the landholder’s details by requesting a current title search.
The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations has contact details for native title bodies.
Table 1: Who to contact for permission to fossick
Who to contact
State land leases, licences and permits to occupy, e.g.
Leaseholder, permit holder or licence holder
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander land
Trustee or leaseholder
National parks, conservation parks, wildlife reserves, state forests and state timber reserves
Fossicking not permitted
Department of Transport and Main Roads
Reserves in the Wet Tropics area
Permission not required for collection. No digging allowed.
If road is a stock route, contact local council
In this guide:
- Personal protection and safety
- Where you can fossick
- Responsibilities of fossickers
- Permitted activities and materials