The Gladstone designated Fossicking Area is located on the northern slopes of Mount Cameron, in north-eastern Tasmania. In it you can fossick for gemstones such as topaz, smoky quartz, citrine, amethyst and clear quartz, as well as tin, possibly minor gold and other minerals. The main material that Mount Cameron is known for is its large smoky quartz.
The main fossicking locations are in abandoned alluvial tin mines near Gladstone. MRT have a map of the fossicking area that highlights the location of the abandoned mines. The main collecting area is along the alluvial workings on Mount Cameron Creek, and Ah Kaw Creek, on the eastern side of the fossicking area. The smoky quartz is mostly found as waterworn, rounded cobbles that have no resemblance to their original crystal shape. They are so worn on the outside that it’s difficult to distinguish them from the common milky quartz that’s piled up everywhere. Occasionally you can find pieces with bits that have recently chipped off and show the inside, like the crystal above. Crystals are much less common than rounded cobbles. Clear, and very pale smoky quartz are also fairly common, but to be honest, although amethyst is listed, I’ve never seen an amethyst from Gladstone.
Where do you look for smoky quartz?
The main targets are the piles of oversize material you can find in the old alluvial diggings. While the miners were digging for tin, they would fork the overzise material into piles out of the way, and this is where the smoky quartz is mostly found. You can dig them, or rake them level, but it’s easier to see material on the surface that has been washed by the rain. Freshly dug stuff is often too dirty to recognise easily, and in fact we’ve found good smokies in stuff that had been raked level relatively recently. At the time they were probably too covered in dirt to be seen properly.
The area of occurrence of smoky quartz is probably a fair bit larger than the current Fossicking Area, so if you have a prospecting licence, it would be worth having a look at other alluvial mines in the area. Some older reports and exploration company documents discuss smoky quartz as a component of the wash in tin mines to the east of Gladstone, such as the Hardens Ravine area. Outside of this general area, I have found smoky quartz in many of the tin- and sapphire-bearing streams that drain the Blue Tier.
If you’re looking for topaz, the area has produced crystals up to 6-8 inches long. The easiest way to fossick for topaz is generally to sieve as if you were looking for sapphires. All the same provisos apply, as it’s a heavy mineral of about the same density as sapphire.
There are a couple of Mount Cameron-related videos:
Good, long video by Wal’n’Liz:
Some of my own finds at the headwaters of Mount Cameron Creek: