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Fossicking rules and responsibilities

Personal protection and safety

Stay safe while fossicking by observing the following principles.

Personal protection

  • Wear suitable clothing for the conditions, including a hat and sturdy footwear (shoes or boots).
  • Apply sun protection and wear sunglasses.
  • Use an insect repellent when appropriate.
  • Wear gloves when digging and sieving to avoid wear and tear to the hands.
  • Wear rubber boots if working in water for long periods.
  • Wear proper eye protection (safety goggles/glasses) whenever breaking rocks.
  • Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit.

Before leaving home

  • Check all equipment, including tools and camping gear, to ensure that it is in working order and safe to use.
  • Check your vehicle to ensure that it is in proper working condition and that adequate supplies of food, water, fuel and spares are on board.
  • Advise someone of your plans (including when you expect to return) and contact numbers.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closure and conditions.
  • Check the current bushfire situation.
  • Check weather forecasts and road conditions.
  • Carry a mobile phone or other suitable communication equipment to maintain contact or to get help.
  • Avoid going out alone.

When fossicking

  • Be careful when digging around large boulders because they may roll or move suddenly, causing severe injury.
  • Never burrow into or undermine a stream bank or earth face or work under overhanging rocks or earth faces.
  • Never dig holes deeper than the permitted depth.
  • Use existing roads and tracks only and avoid cross-country driving.
  • Beware of noxious weeds such as parthenium that can cause serious allergic reactions.
  • When visiting old mining areas beware of open shafts and avoid getting too close, as the surrounding ground may be unstable. Never enter old underground workings.
  • Be careful when fossicking on mine dumps, as much of the material is loose and may move without warning.
  • Never set a fire to clear grass or undergrowth.
  • Don’t carry or use firearms or explosives.
  • For the safety of others, make safe and refill any excavations before leaving, remove rubbish and bury human waste.

When camping

  • Position your camp site well away from any stock watering points.
  • Be careful with fire—use gas for cooking or set camp fires in a proper fireplace with a cleared space around it.

In an emergency

  • Dial 000 from a telephone or 112 from your mobile phone.

In this guide:

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