South-eastern Queensland fossicking
Swipers Gully topaz locality
Gem-quality topaz occurs on part of the Passchendaele State Forest, near the small township of Amiens, about 13km north-west of Stanthorpe. This is a general permission area so fossickers must ensure they comply with the special conditions of access (see below).
From Amiens, head west along the Goldfields Road for about 0.7km and turn left into Pine Forest Road. Travel south for 1.4km, turn left, then almost immediately right and keep travelling south until you reach the ‘T’ junction (about 1.3km). Turn right and travel a further 0.6km. Swipers Gully fossicking site is located on the right.
Inside the forest, use of motor vehicles is restricted to formed roads and tracks.
There are no facilities and camping is not allowed. There are several motels, hotels and caravan parks in Stanthorpe.
Water is not usually available in the area so supplies need to be brought in.
The rocks in the area are mainly granitic and have been mapped as the Stanthorpe Granite of Early to Middle Triassic age and the Ruby Creek Granite of Middle Triassic age. These igneous intrusives are part of the New England Batholith.
The granites are either coarse-grained or medium- to coarse-grained rocks, mainly consisting of pink K-feldspar, white plagioclase, quartz and biotite. Cassiterite (tin oxide) occurs throughout the granites in quartz-greisen veins and topaz is commonly found associated with the tin. Other gem varieties originated in similar veins or in pegmatite zones or veins.
These resistant minerals were liberated by erosion and later concentrated in alluvial deposits in the creeks and gullies and possibly in hillwash deposits.
Topaz and other gemstones and minerals are found in shallow alluvial gravels (wash) in Swipers Gully. The wash consists mainly of silt, sand and gravel fractions. Adjacent colluvial deposits (hillwash) may also have some potential. Tailings from previous mining operations in the area (now rehabilitated) offer further potential for gem finds.
The topaz is commonly colourless but pale blue, yellow and green (rare) have been found. Generally the stones are waterworn but crystals with well-developed faces are not uncommon. Other gemstones found include mainly quartz varieties rock crystal (clear) and smoky quartz along with rare garnet and zircon. Fragments of cassiterite are also found.
Water is not usually available in the area so supplies need to be brought in if wet sieving methods are to be employed.
- Only fossick within the general permission area as shown on the attached map.
- Do not enter private property.
- Use only safe working practices.
- Do not undermine a stream bank or earth face or create overhangs.
- Use hand tools only (including metal detectors). Generators and machinery of any other type are not permitted.
- Do not interfere with or fossick within 10m of any stock, infrastructure or improvements.
- Remain at least 100m from registered apiary sites (whether hives are present or not).
- Carry all water supplies. No permanent potable water supply is available, and no water may be taken from dams, water bores, pump equipment, etc.
- Adults must supervise children at all times.
- Leave gates as they are found.
- Do not interfere with any vegetation, stock or wildlife.
- Keep noise and dust to a minimum.
- Ensure that dogs are on a lead and under control at all times. Remove all animal faeces from the area and dispose of legally.
- Remove all rubbish (including organics) from the area and dispose of legally.
- As no ablution facilities are available, bury human toilet waste in a hole dug into the topsoil at least 10–15cm deep and 100m away from watercourses (or any body of water) and walking tracks. Fill, cover and disguise the hole.
- Ensure excavations do not exceed dimensions of 2m x 1m and a depth of 0.5m. Refill excavations to make them safe for other visitors and stock and contour them to the surrounding land surface.
- Keep motor vehicles to formed roads and tracks only and bring no other machinery.
- Do not light any fires.
- Comply with any directions given by a sign or notice.