Copyright 2004 Paul Clacher
The AFG Gem Fossicking Field Trip to Hogarth Range for Labradorite 26th & 27th of April 2003
Why Rain Can Sometimes Improve Fossicking 1000 Fold.
Well the field trip to the Hogarth Ranges, which was much anticipated, finally arrived and it was the 26th of April 2003. I awoke bright and early on the Saturday morning, had my breakfast and set off from Brisbane towards the rendezvous point at the Casino Motor Inn. I had packed my vehicle the night before so I was able to get away bright and early. Well actually it wasn't all too bright at all and in fact it was very overcast and quite wet. No matter I had a "Plan B" up my sleave. It took me about 2 hours 45 minutes to get to Casino from Brisbane. I arrived at the rendezvous point about 9:25. I had to stop for some Health food "Macca's" uhhhh. Well!!!!!! I was hungry and it was cold.
Anyway on my arrival I found that there were 8 cars and drivers and passengers eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Field Trip Officer moi!!! So, I gathered everyone around and started to give the Plans of Attack, when just then Laurie arrived complaining that it takes more than 3 hours driving from Brisbane to arrive at Casino. He then realised that I set the time from Central Brisbane and not North Brisbane where he lives. Oh well, he still made it in time. Just as I was wrapping up the plan down came the rain. "Rain rain go away come on back another day" I thought to myself, but it didn't work and so I had to make a hasty retreat to my vehicle and we headed off to the dig in convey. The plan was to do the dig in the morning and then I would spring the surprise I had up my sleave.
On arrival at the Farm House where you get permission to enter the property from my friend Farmer Steve, I could easily see that digging in the brown soil was going to be more like clay. So here comes the surprise. A few weeks earlier I had taken some friends from work to this spot and the farmer had bulldozed, not ploughed his paddock, but bulldozed it. Then the ground was just dirt and I got very special permission to wander his bulldozed paddock specking for labradorite. On that particular trip we found numerous bits of stone and in fact we did about 5 times better doing that than what we had done digging from the morning's effort on that occasion. So here I though I would ask again. Now to spell out the picture, I must say until recently Steve had closed his paddock to fossickers. In fact it had been closed for several years. Apparently a few years ago a fossicking group had gone in there and left some holes un filled and one of his cows fell in the hole and had injured itself. Apparently the fossickers had left a bit of a mess and had also left a gate open. So what did he do, he closed it to ALL fossickers. Anyway I have built up a bit of trust with Steve and he let us into his newly bulldozed and planted paddock.
So here we were in Steve's newly planted paddock, with the rain bucketing down, with VERY strict instructions NO digging and NO picking. We were to speck ONLY. So, I passed that message on and away we went. After we parked most of the cars in the paddock we were off and racing like a steeplechase. At first it was just windy and spitting with the rain, but soon it was full on HEAVY rain bucketing down. Like soak you to the bone rain. The paddock was about 1.5 kilometres long by about 50 metres wide.
Normally you would think that such heavy rain would be just the worst thing for fossicking, but this was just fantastic. All of the surface bits of Labradorite stone was just sitting there asking to be picked up. And you know the best part, we only had to pick up the good bits. We left all of the smaller bits behind. My biggest piece was 89.5 carats in size. Not too bad as I did not even use a geo pick to find it.
By about 3:00 pm everyone had done about 1000 squats and everyone was dragging their feet. But, everyone had a nice collection of stone. Sad to say, but that paddock is now closed for fossicking and is for Cow feed and probably will be for all time. Never mind all good things come to an end. And so too did the day. We all returned to Casino to our respective hidey-holes for the night. Some of us ventured to the local RSM for dinner, but most retired early as I have a bit of a name for being a Task Master and I had worn everyone out, including me. Actually it wasn't the getting wet, or the carrying the stones, or the 1000 squats which wore everyone out, it was carrying the 6 inches of mud under each boot which finally pulled everyone up. Hey, but now I know what it's like to be 6 foot tall.
Unfortunately the Sunday section of the Field Trip had to be cancelled as all of the creeks were well up from the rain and it would have been impossible to attempt any fossicking.
When you see the great stone we all got you wish you were there with us. See you all on the next trip.