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Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Ebor is a small settlement on the eastern side of the New England Tableland. Its best known attractions are the Ebor Falls, where the river drops over a series of basalt flows, Cathedral Rocks National Park, Point Lookout (one of the most expansive views in Australia) and the Dutton Trout Hatchery, which you pass on the way to Point Lookout. Round Mountain is not only the highest point in New England, but you would have to travel several thousand kilometres northwards to find higher ground (Mt Bartle Frere, south of Cairns in north Queensland, in fact).

The sapphire deposits are located in places not far from the basalt margin (especially the outlying basalt on Round Mountain) and I would not be surprised if more remain to be discovered. The map adjoining is taken from “Records of the Geological Survey of NSW, 14 part 1” (1971). This includes an important article on Sapphires in the New England District. Ebor is on the extreme right of the included map. The DIGS reference is R00050764. The creeks highlighted in green are those known at the time to be gem bearing.

Apart from this map (which led me to check out the place) there are few other sources of information. There are several in the Dorrigo/Coffs Harbour Metallogenic Data notes and one in particular I found when searching DIGS – “V. Evans' Snowy Creek Sapphire Prospecting parish Rigney county Clarke, Ebor area” (DIGS reference R00039966).

Now, before you go rushing off in the hope of finding your fortune, take note of the fact that the areas mentioned are now in the Cathedral Rocks National Park where fossicking is not allowed. Two references about the park (here and here) indicate the park boundaries and also that the remains of the sapphire prospecting are regarded as historic relics.
My own visits to the area included (a) Biscuit Creek at the top right of the map above (zero finds) (b) Native Dog Creek (black sand, probably ilmenite) (c) Boundary Creek, also top right of map

(black sand) and (d) Snowy Creek (the area highlighted in green on the map) (abundant black spinel).
This is a summary of the five areas indicated as gem bearing in the Metallogenic Mine Data (full title Metallogenic Study and Mineral Deposit Data Sheets Dorrigo - Coffs Harbour 1:250 000 Metallogenic Map (SH/5610, SH/5611) (explanatory notes)) The DIGS reference is R00037128.
Snowy Creek: described as a placer deposit carrying sapphire and topaz. “There is evidence of small-scale mining and fossicking activity along Snowy Creek upstream from its crossing by the Ebor-Guyra road. Position approximate. Not visited in the field."
Snowy Creek West: described as a sapphire alluvial placer.
Biscuit Creek: described as a placer deposit carrying sapphire and cassiterite, worked by dredging and/or sluicing.
Yooroonah (presumably near or in the Oaky River, south of the National Park): sapphire placer deposit worked by dredging and/or sluicing.
Oaky River, locality Yooroonah: sapphire and cassiterite placer worked by dredging and/or sluicing and by shallow pits.
This information is derived from the various reports concerning V Evans’ prospecting areas.
During 1978/79 attempts were made to have portion of Snowy Creek set apart as a fossicking area. Presumably this was in or near the land being prospected by Mr Evans. The land was subsequently incorporated in Cathedral Rocks National Park. Mr Evans prospected on both Biscuit Creek and Snowy Creek but no payable ground appears to have been located. The proposed fossicking area would have been on Snowy Creek.
The location of the various areas mentioned may be found on the map below, extracted from the Dorrigo/Coffs Harbour metallogenic map. It may take a little searching, but they are there!
418 – Biscuit Creek, 419 – Snowy Creek West, 422 - Snowy Creek, 667 and 669 – Oaky River/Yooroonah.

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