Fossicking for Chalcedony

Fossicking for Chalcedony in the swift flowing streams that run from the rugged border ranges between Queensland and New South Wales is a great way to explore and enjoy some of the most scenic parts of New South Wales' Northern Rivers district.

Recently we took part in a club organised fossicking trip just over the Queensland border to see if we could find some raw specimens of gem-stones, particularly Chalcedony, in a rocky creek that winds down from the Lamington Plateau on the southern side of the border.

Our party had arranged to meet at a park at Murwillumbah, before proceeding to the fossicking site, so we all gathered there before setting off.

Tweed River at Murwillumbah looking East

River Tweed at Murwillumbah looking Downstream from Budd Park

River Tweed at Murwillumbah looking Upstream from Budd Park

Clouds obscured the summit of Mount Warning as we made our way from Murwillumbah to the farm where we had been given permission to fossick for the day. The weather was cloudy, but fortunately, the rain kept away.

Cloud over Mt Warning

View along the road to Mt Warning - clouds obscure the mountain top

We soon found the creek-bank where we could park and were shown what to look for along the creek. Chalcedony, agate and red and green jasper were the most likely finds. The creek bed was very rough and stony and the water rushed over the stones, so old shoes were essential to protect our feet. Apart from that, a hat, a bucket and some sort of digging thing was all the equipment we needed.

The white chalcedony has a waxy appearance that almost seems to glow in shallow water, making it easy to see. It has a similar colour to quartz but is more opaque. The samples we found in the creek were mostly white, with some having soft stripes of other hues. However chalcedony comes in a variety of colours and many semi-precious gemstones, including agate, chrysoprase and onyx are forms of chalcedony.

Northern Rivers Creek

Meandering Creek where we fossicked for Chalcedony

Soon everyone was finding samples (although the oldtimers assured us they used to find lots more) and time passed so quickly that it was nearly time to pack up before we stopped for lunch. The creek was so interesting as well as pretty. Large trees shaded the banks and beyond them stretched the farm paddocks. The cold clear water rushed over shallow stones before collecting into wide, deep pools, then rushing on again over the next stretch of rocky shallows.

Can you see all the Chalcedony gleaming in the water?

That night, instead of driving home to Brisbane, we drove our old campervan on to the caravan park at the foot of Mount Warning, and set up for the night.

We were camped beside a rocky, babbling brook, much like the one we had been fossicking in that day. After an enjoyable dinner and a glass or two of wine with friends, sitting around the campfire, we crashed into our comfortable bunk and slept like logs the night through, promising ourselves that we'd do it all again soon.

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