This is an area on Yarrow Creek that we visited many times, both during Minerama (the annual Glen Innes gem and mineral show) and on our regular Wednesday outings with the Baptist Church Fossicking Group.
The only evidence that there had been sapphire mining there was a few ponds (the remains of settling dams for sediment) and a mound where a trommel had evidently been set up. Just when this took place is unknown. I’ve found nothing about the spot in DIGS (the NSW Geological Survey document site) but I would guess it happened in the 1960’s when lots of small mines were operating all over the Glen Innes and Inverell region.
Everything changed one Wednesday in 2008 when dozens of cuttable pyrope garnets turned up in one hole near the old trommel site. They were accompanied by similar sized black spinels and poorer quality sapphires. This was at the beginning of winter, so a further search had to wait until the following summer.
|First day finds - sapphire and enstatite|
It was then that the first of several gem bonanzas turned up. It became clear that the miners had dumped back into the creek all the garnets and black spinels they had found along with the poorer grade sapphires. They must have had a market for larger zircons because there were few of these.
|First day finds - small zircons and garnets|
|First day finds - some of the best|
|The writer with some good wash|
This led to a regular “feeding frenzy” on our outings and no boulders were left unturned in the search for more goodies. Since then a search further downstream has revealed only a little spill over into the adjacent waterholes so I guess we have found most of the miners’ waste.
Make sure you check out the videos on The Old Mine on my You Tube site. You will find them here and here.
|The bonanza location|
|Another good day's finds - January 2009|