Fossicking rules and responsibilities

Responsibilities of fossickers

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.

General responsibilities

These responsibilities apply to all fossicking areas.

When fossicking, you must not:

  • destroy or injure any trees
  • clear any vegetation except above an actual excavation
  • pollute any watercourse, dam or the like
  • create areas likely to erode
  • interfere with any livestock, wildlife or property infrastructure (e.g. windmills, bores, pumps, tanks, fences)
  • interfere with any heritage or cultural site
  • undermine any banks or dig pits to create any tunnels or overhanging sections.

On leaving a site:

  • refill all excavations
  • remove all camping structures
  • bury human waste at least 20cm deep and 20m away from the high bank of any watercourse
  • remove all rubbish, unless established bins or pits are in the vicinity
  • ensure the site is in a safe, tidy and sanitary condition.

Fossicking in watercourses

Within watercourses, you must not:

  • excavate within 40m of any bridge, weir or other structure, unless signs indicate otherwise
  • excavate on the slopes of banks, or within 3m of the top or toe of banks, where such activities may cause the collapse of the banks
  • significantly interrupt or divert the flow of the stream
  • cause any significant turbidity more than 300m downstream
  • interfere with any trees or shrubs in the watercourse
  • erect any structures in the watercourse.

On leaving, refill all excavations and place excess material so as to minimise disturbance to the channel and significant streamflows.

Designated fossicking lands and areas

Within designated fossicking lands and areas you must not:

  • erect any permanent or semi-permanent structures
  • make any new tracks or roads without approval
  • drive on any fossicking land
    • in an unregistered vehicle or without a licence
    • at more than 50km/h
    • off a made track or road
    • in a hazardous or noisy manner
    • in a way that would harm the road surface
  • use a weapon, trap or explosive
  • operate any generator, radio or other electrical appliance with excessive noise that may annoy other fossickers
  • damage any sign or other structure
  • light any fire except within a fireplace or a cleared space with a radius of at least 2m
  • light a fire if a notice indicates that this is prohibited
  • bring any dogs or cats if a notice indicates that this is prohibited
  • allow any water supply to run to waste
  • fossick, camp or light a fire when instructed not to do so temporarily by a sign or authorised officers.

On leaving a site, you must make all excavations safe for future fossickers, stock and landholders if necessary, as instructed by the authorised officers.

General permission areas

Fossickers must comply with any special conditions of access.

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