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Thursday, 19 October 2017


Before reading this blog, it would be best to read the similar blog about the Grafton-Maclean map. This may be found here. The relevant reference number for the map and mine data sheets in DIGS is R00056102.

The Inverell package may be found by opening DIGS here. The reference number is R00050906 (which includes the map). The reference number for the map alone is R00027907.

The Inverell map seems to be a poorer copy than the Grafton-Maclean one, making an enlargement harder to read.

You will soon appreciate what a large number of mineral deposits there are in the area, including at The Gulf (north west of Emmaville), Tingha and the Copeton diamond fields.

Here is an extract from the map. 
To illustrate the information to be found in the Mine Data Sheets, I’ve chosen the deposit number 585. The location is south of Inverell, east of Copeton Dam. Fortunately for us, the data sheets are in a single volume, not dismembered like the Grafton sheets are. Upon opening the data sheets you will find quite a lot of valuable information on the geology of the region and the nature and formation of the many mineral deposits.
The data sheets commence on page 104. Deposit 585 will be found on page 377. Here is the information.
 This is a typical set of information, in this case for Fox’s Garnet Lode. I must admit I can’t locate it on the map – it’s quite a congested area – but the information is all there for you to use. Mindat (here) provides additional information when the deposit name is put in the search box. Here is what I discovered. 

By following the map Mindat provides (and choosing the satellite image) you will discover that the Lode is just north of the Howell Road, which leads to the old town site of Howell and the Conrad group of mines.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


The NSW Geological Survey has compiled an extensive series of reports which can be used to assist in the search for new mineral deposits or simply to locate existing ones. The Grafton-Maclean Metallogenic Map group of documents may be downloaded from DIGS (here) using this reference number: R00056102. The files take up about 65 MB and consist of many related documents apart from the map itself. These represent the original report broken up into sections.
The map includes the Torrington and Emmaville districts and extends southwards to Glencoe. The western edge of the sheet joins the Inverell map, and it extends to the coast in the east. The Inverell map will be the subject of a later blog.
The map provides a vast amount of information – geology, structure and mineral deposits as well as the underlying topography, roads, watercourses etc. This can make locating something quite difficult and frustrating, so it’s important to become familiar with the meaning of the colours and symbols provided around the margins of the map. Here is an example of what the map contains:

The rest of the documents in the downloaded folder provide information on the background geology and the individual mineral deposits. Take, for example the deposit number 1837, roughly in the centre of the extract. The table of mineral deposits (left of map) describes this as “Back Plain Creek sapphire (Zr)”.
You will find the deposit listed in the file titled “Text_4.3MB_zip_of_4_deposit;_pdf” (the first of four of these). When the file is open, scan through until you come to “GR 1837”, which is the extract below.
More information can be found by looking up the Mineral Occurrence List in the second part of the above file, using the same deposit number (1837).
 You could expand your knowledge of the area by searching other deposit numbers nearby, whether you can find them on the map or not.
Another possibilty is to search the Mindat data base (here) using the mine name. This is what you will find for Back Plain Creek:
Located approximately 15kms NNW of Glen Innes.
Operated as a small open cut and shallow pits 1971 to 1990s.
Mineral List
2 entries listed. 1 valid mineral.
The above list contains all mineral locality references listed on This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.

Metallogenic Study and Mineral Deposit Data Sheets: Grafton-Maclean Metallogenic Map (SH/56-6, SH/56-7), Geological Survey of New South Wales, 2001: HF Henley, RE Brown, JW Brownlow, RG Barnes and WJ Stroud. Published by the Geological Survey of New South Wales.

Finally, you might like to check out my blog on the Back Plain Creek area here.
Here is a link to a slide show of pictures from the data package: here.

All New England and other Geology blogs and videos

Sunday, 5 February 2017


Extract from "Diamonds in NSW"
Staggy Creek reserve is one of the few places in NSW where fossickers can go and have at least some chance of finding an alluvial diamond. It’s part of an extensive deep lead lying beneath the basalt, south of Inverell. Tin (cassiterite) was the main mineral being sought by miners in this area in the nineteenth century and diamonds were discovered during the search. This created a lot of interest at the time – and still does, judging by the amount of prospecting that has been going on during the last twenty years. Search DIGS (here) using “Staggy Creek” as the locality and you will be surprised.
There’s a lot of good background information in my Blog “Alluvial Diamond Mining in the New England Region of NSW Australia” (here) and especially in the NSW Geological Survey publication “Diamonds in New South Wales”. You can download a copy from DIGS; the reference number is R00047949.
I’ve been there just once, at least 25 years ago. All I can remember finding is pieces of black tourmaline, which are everywhere.
Here’s what the Inverell Tourism website (here) has to say about Staggy Creek:
Copeton diamonds - Australian Museum
The district’s rich volcanic soils can offer other gems and minerals. One such gem, is the amazing Diamond found near Copeton Dam; the Staggy Creek Fossicking Area provides a site where you can look for the Diamonds together with Black Tourmaline and Quartz. This is a rough dry area 28km from Inverell, you can take your water or dry sieve.
Contact Details: Copeton Dam Road (24km from the turn off Copeton Dam from Inverell)”      
This is what “Diamonds in NSW” has to say about the place.
Photo courtesy of Jewellery Pirate
The Staggy Creek deposit is an isolated area of diamond-bearing Tertiary gravels exposed at the surface. There is no basalt overlying the deposit and granite bedrock surrounds the Tertiary gravels. The granite is remarkable in that it contains a number of potholes of circular shape and its surface appears to be the surface on which the Tertiary sediments were deposited.
The deposit consists of quartz pebbles, cobbles and boulders ranging from 5mm to 0.2m in diameter, jasper, a relatively large amount of tourmaline (much of which is unabraded), topaz and garnet (which is invariably present in the diamond bearing gravels). Many of the quartz boulders contains pencil tourmaline. An ironstone band similar to those at Kirk’s Hill and the Banca is present.” Read page 52 of the report for a fuller description.
Mindat (here) includes a reference to Staggy Creek.
Photo courtesy of Jewellery Pirate
Staggy Creek lead, Copeton DamHardinge Co.New South WalesAustralia
Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):
29° 50' 5'' South , 150° 53' 5'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal):
Map sheets: SH 56-5, 9038-II-N. Coordinates: 295600mE, 6697500mN.
Placer deposit.
Rather strangely, the Mindat list doesn’t include ‘tourmaline’, the most obvious mineral at Staggy Creek.
Here is a list of other resources you will find interesting.
Photo courtesy of Jewellery Pirate
Jewellery Pirate’s Blog (here). Thank you, JP, for the photographs of Staggy Creek.
An account of a visit by the Campelltown Lapidary Club (here).
Paul Clacher’s visit (here).
All Travels website (here).
World of Shiny Stuff website (here).

All New England and other Geology blogs and videos

Sunday, 1 January 2017


Blatherarm Creek (Blather Arm Creek, Blather Creek) is one of the most popular fossicking areas in the Torrington (NSW) district. This is partly due to the provision of a camping area there, but mainly because of the many topaz cutters which the creek gravel produces.

The map has been extracted from a publication of the NSW Geological Survey called “Rocks, Minerals and Landforms of the Mole Tableland which appeared in 2014. The DIGS reference number is R00059626. DIGS is a site from which a vast number of useful references can be downloaded. (here) I haven’t visited Blatherarm for more than 20 years so I have made use of some photographs from the Australian Lapidary Forum site (ALF here).  Thank you to those who contributed these to ALF.

The earliest reference to topaz at Blatherarm that I have found is in TWE David’s monograph on the 
Vegetable Creek Tin-Mining Field (DIGS reference R00031676) page 70, where he writes “The sand and clay in these alluvial workings, in portion 42, parish of Bates, county of Clive, are from 10 to 15 feet deep, and consist of subangular granite sand, with subangular and rounded quartz pebbles up to 6 inches in diameter and rest on a bottom of granite. White topaz and sapphires are very abundant.”

Other Geological Survey references dealing with the area have this to say. “The Mole Granite area is also well known for topaz crystals ranging in colour from clear to straw yellow to blue and up to several centimetres in size. Topaz crystals or fragments can be found in all creeks draining the central Torrington pendant. The topaz originates from numerous silexite or quartztopaz bodies that mainly occur within the Torrington pendant or from the numerous narrow silexite dykes within the Mole Granite. Blather Arm Creek is particularly well known for its clear and blue topaz crystals and a significant amount of topaz has been found in Scrubby Gully and Highland Home Creeks.”

It was later found that the presence of rare corundum in local creeks was commonly known by local miners and fossickers. Other known localities are Blatherarm, Cattarrh, Bald Rock and Slow Gully Creeks. The source of the corundum is unknown but may be derived from the remnants of high level Tertiary gravels.”

I’ve mislaid my source for these quotes, but they are probably from Industry 18: Mineral Industry NSW - 1980 - Gemstones (2nd Edition) (DIGS reference R00050830), Exploration Data package Clive 1:100 000 sheet (DIGS reference R00031737).

Other documents you could consult include these:

Jewellery Pirate’s blog (here), a Mindat article (here) and the Minerama book (Topaz 1995) (here).

Beryl also turns up in the Blatherarm gravel. It is the typical pale green colour of Torrington beryl and is usually opaque. You cannot concentrate beryl in the sieve centre the way you can topaz because its specific gravity is nearly the same as that of quartz. You will need to look through the stones in the sieve to find any.

The source of the beryl is probably Bollinger’s Lode, which outcrops on private land upstream of the
Conservation Area boundary. Resist the temptation to trespass on this or other adjacent land. The best topaz fossicking is in the permitted area anyhow. Most of the land upstream appears to be swampy. When I was last there, I found most of my topaz by dry sieving old dumps away from the creek (top sieve only), collecting the sieve contents in a bucket and then re-sieving this material in the creek.
It is worth noting that radioactive minerals have been discovered at Bollinger’s and nearby locations. Torbernite is the most abundant of these. See Bollinger's Prospect, Torrington (DIGS reference R00039360)

Sunday, 4 December 2016


Photo by Wwoofa via the Australian Lapidary Forum
This is a well-known mineral collecting locality in northern NSW, on the western edge of what is commonly called the New England region. Unfortunately it is a place I’ve never visited so I am depending on the descriptions of others.

The Inverell Tourism website has this to say:  

“Wallangra Fossicking Area. Wallangra located north of Inverell has an area near the hall where you can hunt for Black Tourmaline in Quartz, once again this is a dry fossicking area. Contact Details: Wallangra Hall, Wallangra (65km north of Inverell) Ph: (02) 6728 8161.”

You may not find that particularly helpful. Knowing that the spot is near the Hall is good, but you also need to know that this is on the left hand side of the Yetman road. I’m sure you will find the place OK without ringing Wallangra. 
The spot is open freely to fossickers. Please do the right thing and leave your mechanical diggers at home. As well as your specimens, take home all your rubbish and other people’s as well if you come across any.

There is a stack of information available on the Australian Lapidary Forum. I suggest you become a forum member so you can access it. Here. You can then contribute to the Forum by telling members about your visit to Wallangra.

There are a number of websites describing visits to Wallangra. “Frosty’s Aussie Adventures” (here) should answer most of your questions. Thank you Wayne for showing us what should be available from the Inverell Tourism website.

I will point out at this stage that Wallangra and Wallangarra are quite different places. The latter is just across the NSW border into Queensland on the New England Highway.
This is an extract from the Inverell 1:250000 geological map. It shows that Wallangra is situated in an area marked Pg (Permian Granite, actually part of the Bundarra Suite).
The Australian Stratigraphic Units Database contains this definition of the “granites” of the Bundarra Suite:
Coarse- to very coarse-grained, porphyritic and equigranular (biotite)-(muscovite)-(garnet)-(cordierite) granite and leucogranite; K-feldspar megacrysts abundant in places.” This is the host rock in which the Wallangra tourmaline in quartz bodies are found.

I have been unable to find any account of the detailed geology of the occurrence.
Mindat (here), however, regards the site as significant. Here is what a search on the location produces:
“Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):
29° 13' 54'' South , 150° 53' 4'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal):
Located south of Texas, Qld.
Wallangra (in Northern New South Wales) was the site of a quarry, the area is now a designated Fossicking area. There is a quartz outcrop which contains tourmaline.

You will notice that the word ‘tourmaline’ is in quotes. This is because tourmaline is the name of a mineral family, rather than an individual mineral. In this case, the mineral is schorl – commonly called black tourmaline. If you want to read more about the tourmaline group, check this Mindat reference here.
Photo by Wwoofa via the Australian Lapidary Forum
Photo by earthound via the Australian Lapidary Forum

Wednesday, 3 August 2016


The complete title of this book is “The Tin-Mining Industry and the Distribution of Tin Ores in New South Wales”. It is No. 14 in the Mineral Resources series, produced by the Geological Survey Branch of the NSW Department of Mines.
You can download a copy from DIGS (here). DIGS is an on-line collection of publications made available by the NSW Department of Industry (Resources and Energy). The reference number is R00050677. This book is an important resource for anyone interested in mining history and especially those wanting to locate and identify old mines and mineral deposits.
I have prepared a slide show using the numerous plates from this book (viewable on my YouTube site here).
I wish to acknowledge the source of these photographs now and thank the 
Geological Survey of NSW for making this resource available.
You will soon see if you look through the DIGS listings that there is a huge volume of literature on the subject of tin mining in NSW. Much was written before 1911 and a great deal more since. The New England region was at the heart of the industry. Locations such as Emmaville, Torrington, Tingha and Wilson’s Downfall stand out. Today, however, little mining is going on and it will take a substantial increase in the price of tin to get things moving again. The emphasis then will be on large scale mining and it looks as if the day of the solitary miner or small syndicate is over.

Here are the reference numbers for some other important documents relevant to the subject of tin mining.
The Mineral Resources of NSW (1901) by EF Pittman. DIGS reference number R00051137
The Mineral Industry of NSW by EC Andrews et al 1928. R00050818
Tin (Bulletin No 1) by EJ Kenny 1922. R00050981
Minerama book 1994 Cassiterite downloadable here.
All New England and other Geology blogs and videos.

Friday, 22 July 2016


In this blog I’ve attempted to bring together a list of all the places where topaz has been reported to the west of Torrington, in the New England region of NSW. So as not to repeat a lot of what I’ve already written, I’ve given references to some of my articles (in John’s New England Minerals blog). In some cases the reference to topaz may be very minor.
Please note that many of these locations are on private property and you will need permission from the owner to enter.
There are a number of useful references you can download. Firstly, there is the Minerama booklet “Topaz” (here). This gives information and references on many topaz localities in the New England region.
Secondly, there is Edgeworth David’s report on the Vegetable Creek Tin Field, published in 1887. It contains an amazing amount of information on what is still a pretty remote part of the country. At the time the report was compiled, only 50 years had passed since the first Europeans entered the district. You will need to go to DIGS (here). The reference number R00030528 will bring up a PDF of a 2 page map which is invaluable in locating old mines and workings. The same map, but on a single page this time, is at the very end of the report itself, for which the reference number is R00031676.
Thirdly, there are the Grafton-Maclean and Inverell metallogenic maps and data sheets, which are comprehensive reports covering all significant (and often insignificant) mines and mineral deposits, with lots of geological and mineralogical details. The respective DIGS reference numbers are R00056102 and R00050906 .
Fourthly, there is the mineral data base Mindat (here), where searching can often bring up information on a particular location. Much of this has been extracted from the previously mentioned reports.
Here are the links to areas already covered in my Blog:
Scrubby Gully topaz
Gaden’s Lode Gulf Road Emmaville (here)
Specimen Hill, The Gulf Near Emmaville (here)
The Gulf Fluorite Mine Near Emmaville (here)
Scrubby Gully, Torrington (here)
Surface Hill Gem Deposit Gulf Road Emmaville (here)
The Emerald Mine, near Emmaville (here).
These are well known localities, which have been visited by collectors and gem hunters for many years. This is not to say that there is nothing of interest left, on the contrary we continue to hear of attractive (and sometimes valuable) specimens being found in these places.
Fossicking at Surface Hill
West of the Beardy River, and entirely on the Inverell 1:250000 sheet, David reported the existence of numerous alluvial tin deposits, many of which are “deep leads”, lying beneath the extensive basalt flows which cover much of the area. I haven’t heard of anyone looking for gems in the area, but David’s descriptions mentions them several times.
The familiar ones are at Scrubby Gully and Surface Hill (both east of the Beardy). Links to my blogs on these are given above. That the topaz, beryl etc at SG and SH have originated from pegmatites around the edges and roof of 
Cross section of a lead (David)
the Mole Granite is beyond doubt. The same is most likely to be true of the deposits listed below. These gem bearing alluvials are probably derived from sources which have long since eroded away.
All these quotations are from David.
The Kangaroo Flat Lead. Details are on pages 93-94. The location is to the west of  Emmaville. “near the north-east corner of Portion 45, Arvid, at the Avoca Mine near the north-east corners of 104 and 105 in the same parish.”The gravel averages 2 feet in thickness, and is composed principally of flattish, oval pebbles of claystone 2-3 inches in diameter, and well-worn pebbles and grains of quartz; and gem-stones, as green beryl, emerald, sapphire, topaz etc and fine grains of stream tin chiefly black.”
Hall’s Sugarloaf. Details are on page 95. “Half a mile south-west of Foley’s is Hall’s Sugarloaf, a
small outlier of basalt capping stanniferous gravel.”The deposit may be described as a “cement” consisting of pebbles of claystone 3 inches in diameter with small well worn quartz pebbles, quartz sand, and small gems, as topaz and beryl, set in white and grey pipeclay, which has been baked in places into a tough natural brick.” Quite a few other mines in the area are also described, but no mention is made of gemstones. I think we can safely assume that gems are present in the wash at these places.
The Rocky Creek Lead. “The tertiary country embraced under this name extends from Cockatoo to the water-parting between the Severn and Dumaresq Rivers in the parish of Lorne, a distance of 9 miles.” “At the Basalt Hills the gravel has been tested by several shafts and two tunnels. The alluvial beds are composed chiefly of fine quartz sands such as results from the waste of quartz-porphyry (containing a number of beryls), with pebbles of claystone up to 1 inch in diameter.”
The Gem Lead has been proved to be a rich feeder, falling into the main body of basalt from the north-east.” “The commencement is in an outlier of quartz sand and gravel, capped by basalt in portion 38, Lorne.” “The richest yield here was 3 tons of stream tin from 70 cubic yards of wash. Emeralds and sapphires are associated with this stream tin.”
The Ruby Hill Lead. “The width of the volcanic formation varies from 5 chains to 2 miles.” “Constituents of the gravel are well rolled pebbles of clear and opaque quartz, red and black jasper, and pebbles of quartz-porphyry, the last attaining the diameter of 1 foot. Zircons and sapphires are plentifully intermixed with the stream tin.”
Beginning on page 164 David gives a summary of gems found in the Vegetable Creek area.
I would be delighted to hear from anyone who makes gemstone discoveries in this area. The comments area below can be used.