Fossicking rules and responsibilities

Permitted activities and materials

Your fossicking licence allows you to search for and collect fossicking materials using hand tools and for recreational, tourist and educational purposes only.

Permitted tools and extent of diggings

Hand tools such as picks, shovels, hammers, sieves, shakers, electronic detectors (metal detectors) and other similar tools can be used.

No machinery is permitted. This includes water sluices with electronic pumps and dredges of any kind.

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.

Materials collected

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 don’t need a fossicking licence to search for ‘treasure’ such as lost jewellery and coins on a beach.

Sale and trade of collected material

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.

In this guide:

  1. Personal protection and safety
  2. Where you can fossick
  3. Responsibilities of fossickers
  4. Permitted activities and materials

Print entire guide