Queensland Fossicking Tour of Interest Routes and Distances

Written by Paul Clacher copyright 2004

In 2004 I decided to head off on the below route around Queensland and fossick on the way and also do a bit of site seeing as I went. The route took me to many fossicking sites and areas of extreme beauty. The below story is of that trip.

I have included the below for any of you who may choose to trave a similar route. I have also included the spreadsheet which I used for the planning of that trip with routes and distances and there are many hyperlinks also to other web sites of information on that spreadsheet. If you wish to access the spreadsheet click here.

 

Fossicking, Touring and Sight Seeing, in Queensland - Something for the Whole Family

In recent years my daughter has moved into upper high school grades and my wife has become busy with her work and the combination of that has made it a little more difficult to convince them that a fossicking holiday is the way to go. So, I had to come up with a holiday, which would appeal to the whole family and I did it. My daughter wanted more than anything to go to Boulia and try to see some "Min Min" lights and my wife wanted to see Western Queensland and I wanted to do all of that, but I also wanted to look and fossick for stones.

So I sat down with a very good map of Queensland and started to plan the holiday of the century, well the holiday of holidays until next year anyway. Now, before I say anything more, I must say that I am based in Brisbane and so naturally this holiday will start from Brisbane. Secondly, I drive and I own a four-wheel drive, so that will allow me pretty much to go where ever I choose. Initially I was looking at traveling up through the Gem Fields up Emerald way, but that just cut out a whole lot of really good fossicking country and some really beautiful areas of Queensland to see.

And so, our fossicking holiday of 2004 was borne. I looked at each town with the general knowledge I had stored in my head over the years of what stones can be found there and I then started to make up a route in my head. After a while of storing different routes in my head I thought it was about to explode with too much information, so I decided to make up a bit of a spreadsheet on the computer. Well now it was really starting to get technical. I decided that firstly I needed to know what days I would be in what town, as I only had the 2 week school holidays to tour the entire state of Queensland, which is quite sizeable by anyone's estimation. So, I had the days and dates sorted out and I then started to put in the destinations in the next column. I then thought it would probably a good idea to know the distances between each destination, so that I would know how much time I would or would not have to fossick. The next column naturally would contain the activities at those spots. Well I had the columns but nothing in them, and so a planning I went.

The route I finally chose was Chinchilla, Charleville, Longreach, Winton, Boulia, Richmond, Charters Towers, Mount Surprise, Atherton, Cooktown, Townsville, Proserpine, Gladstone, Gympie and then Brisbane. In total a calculated distance of 6,466 kilometres. Certainly the dust would not be settling at my feet, that was for sure. This route would see us traveling in a clockwise direction around Queensland.

We decided that our first stop off towards the west would be Chinchilla. Now Chinchilla is a small country town of about 3,000 people. And quite often it is Chilly Chinchilla. And this time it was Chilly Chinchilla as it was in the middle of winter when we were there and it was way too cold to venture out in the evening for more than just a few minutes. But more importantly Chinchilla is home to some of the very best petrified woods in the world. Now if you know where to look, there are some nice bits of faceting grade quartz too, although small they may be, but I have faceted a few nice finds from there. While I did not have a lot of time to do any serious digging, I decided to do a bit of a drive around the area hoping to find some pieces of wood just lying around. "Just lying around" I hear you say. Well yes, "just lying around". For some strange reason, the Chinchilla area seems to have more than its fair share of road works.

Some of my best finds in the Chinchilla area have been at road works. I once picked up a 25-kilogram piece of pentoxylon. This time was no different. In fact I located one piece, which was far to big to pick up let alone put it in the car, so I had to leave that one for another day when I would have some serious help. We stayed at the Chinchilla Mobile Park (4662 7314) there that night and we headed off early the following morning. After I scraped the ice off the windscreen. Well I did say Chilly Chinchilla. If you intend to stay more than one night at Chinchilla I would recommend that you go to the Information Centre to find out the current fossicking locations which are open to the public for digging or specking of petrified wood. Try and make some time while at Chinchilla to wander the Historical Museum as it is quite interesting. The drive to Roma from Chinchilla is only 450 kilometers and is not too onerous.

After leaving Chinchilla we headed out west through Miles, Roma and finally to Charleville. This trip we did not stop off at the Miles Historical Museum, but if you travel this route, I would really recommend stopping at Miles to check out the Miles Historical Museum. Put aside no less than 1 hour for this museum, but I would figure that after an hour, you will still have much more to see. The Miles Historical Museum has something for the whole family. By the way, we did not, but you might like to spend some time in Miles too, as some of the best red and yellow petrified woods come from Miles. Just for your info too, just up the road at Wandoan, some of the most beautiful pieces of petrified ferns can be found.

When we reached Roma we stopped at the "Big Rig" Information center and started our collection of Information Brochures. Something I would recommend everyone doing, as I always learn of something new to see on the way. There is always something that I did not know about, no matter how much research I do before I head off on a trip. Another thing I have found out over the years, is that some centers, not all, but some, do not hold much information about the next town. We have also found that some Information Centres will book accommodation for you and in doing that sometimes you will get quite good discounts. I never book ahead of time, unless it is absolutely necessary, as in the past I have booked ahead of time and on arrival at our accommodation we have discovered we have booked ourselves into the, well what can I say, not the best place in town.

If you chose to do so one could launch a separate holiday from Roma up to the World Famous Carnarvon Gorge National Park as it is located North of Roma. In that area there is the Salvator Rosa section, the Ka Ka Mundi section, the Mount Moffatt section, and the Moolayember section. I am told that it is easy to spend a couple of weeks at the Carnarvon Gorge, but I have no personal experience of the gorge.

Anyway onwards we drove towards Charleville and I was pleasantly surprised with the scenery, as I expected the surroundings to be flat and without interest. How wrong I was. Now while the scenery was not exceptional, it certainly was not flat and uninteresting, as there is a considerable amount of mountainous, or should I really say hilly countryside. Our main reason to be heading off to Charleville was to seek out the location of a rare fauna sighting in that area. Just prior to arriving at Charleville we pulled into one of the many reserves on the way and in my searching's, I found that one can find some quite nice pieces of petrified wood in the Charleville area. Since arriving back at home I have cut one of the pieces and it has some beautiful reds through it. I also saw quite a lot of sand stone areas and ironstone formations. There areas are always worth a stop and a look at if you have the time.

On our arrival in Charleville one thing we always do first is to find our accommodation for the night. Usually we have our camper in tow, but this time with so many kilometers to do in such a short time we decided to stay in Cabins or Motels. Once we find a place for the night, we are then free to do what we want for the rest of the day. In Charleville, there is the Information Centre (07 4654 3057), The Historic House, and the Graham Andrews Parklands, which houses the rain guns. There are a few points of interest in Charleville, but only a few worth looking at we found. Sorry Charleville.

The following day we pushed on towards Longreach. I have always wanted to see the Longreach hall of fame and we were only a day away from the famous "Hall of Fame". I have always wanted to see Augathella too. Only because the "Augathella Station" featured in a song a friend of mine used to sing when he was in his bush band. We stopped off at Barcaldine, to see the Tree of Knowledge, the sight of the first Shearer's Strike and we also had a look at the "Black Stump", which is now a stump of petrified wood and made the obligatory stop at the Information Centre for some more brochures.

After a few stop-offs on the way to Longreach we arrived in the early afternoon and booked a large cabin / cottage and headed straight to the "Hall of Fame". This was to be our first introduction to the world of expensive and in my opinion poor value for money "Outback" tourism. To say that I was very disappointed in the "Stockman's Hall of Fame" would be a large understatement. The entrance fee of $49.00 for a family pass got us in. And to be completely honest, I thought that there was very little inside to see. In the past I have enjoyed much more my wanderings in the Miles and Chinchilla Historical Museum, than I did on the day of my wanderings in "The Stockman's Hall of Fame". It was a Sunday when we arrived in Longreach and it was the School Holidays and it was peak season and I can say that absolutely everything was closed, even the Information Centre.

We always travel on holidays with a Car Fridge and that would have to be one of the best buy's I have made. That way you can travel, with cold drinks, meats, cheeses, butter, wine and anything else that you want cold. This was a wise move having the fridge stocked as no food shops were open and we were able to eat well from the car fridge.

I did do a bit of a fossick in and around Longreach and found quite a bit of petrified wood there and I also started to find the sorts of ironstone nodules which further out west contain the much sort after type of opalised Yowah Nuts.

The following day we headed off towards Winton and this is when the holiday really started to become interesting. While the drive from Longreach to Winton was only relatively a short drive, there is really not much to see between Longreach and Winton. We were going to head off towards Muttaburra, but were advised against it as there is not a lot to see at Muttaburra, except for the model of the Muttaburrasaurus.

On our arrival in Winton the first thing I noticed was the smell from the bore water and the funny rubbish bins. What funny rubbish bins? Well all of the business centre rubbish bins were dinosaur feet. While in Winton the serious fossicker can start fossicking for boulder opal. Just south of Winton are the Opalton Opal fields. Opals can also be found on the Lark Quarry Road south of Winton. I also found a very large specimen of pure white Calcite Crystals the size of a large eggplant on that road too.

We also spent some time at the Lark Quarry, and in Winton itself we saw the open picture theatre, Arnos Park, the Musical Fence, we saw The Sunset Opal Factory, and saw the Jolly Swagman statue. The Information Centre was quite interesting, but we did not have time to go into the A B (Banjo) Patterson display. The Lark Quarry event was quite interesting and not overly expensive. I would recommend including the Lark Quarry onto your list of events schedule. The drive to and from Lark Quarry is quite beautiful with geological formations called "Jump Ups". I found Winton to be quite a pleasant little town, all be it the water having a rather different smell and taste. Not too bad if you like the smell of boiled eggs.

On the Tuesday we then headed off for Boulia. I would highly recommend this drive, but before you take on this leg, I would HIGHLY recommend that you book a head of time. Why? Because when we got to Boulia, every bed in town was completely booked up. I mean every bed. If we would have the camper, we would have been right for the night at the caravan Park, but we didn't have the camper. Anyway getting back to the trip to Boulia, I was absolutely stunned by the beauty of the 400 odd kilometers drive. There is only 1 location between Winton and Boulia and that is Middleton. Now Middleton, is just a Pub and that is it, so make sure that you have plenty of fuel and water before you leave Winton. Anyway, the scenery along the way is spectacular. There are similar geological formations like the "Jump Ups" but they are much larger and in a way they reminded me a bit like the strange rock formations as seen in the American Arizona Desert. I believe that these formations on the way to Boulia may be part of the Carters Range. A short distance past Middleton is the Cawnpore Lookout and is well worth the stop for some picture postcard photographs. Keep your eyes peeled either side of this strip as you may well find "Moon Rocks", some really beautiful specimens of Iron Stone and a type of sandstone nodules.

We made a short stop off at the "Min Min" hotel ruins and wondered at the absolute isolation of this location. At this spot is a single solitary grave. A lonely site if I have ever seen one. Once upon a time the area was strewn with bottles from the old hotel, which burnt down suspiciously in 1917, but those bottles have long disappeared. The area is as flat as flat can be and is strewn on the surface with hundreds of thousands of bit of ironstone. Some of which had the most beautiful patterns to them. I have since polished some and they have come up very well indeed.

When we arrived in Boulia, we did the obligatory accommodation search and discovered the horrible truth that there was not a bed to be had in town. Next time when we are not towing the camper on holidays, I must remember to pack the tent. As there was no accommodation, I had to make the only decision I could, and that was to drive on to Mt. Isa. But before we did that we went into the "Min Min Encounter". Without a doubt, this was the very best, world-class tourist show we saw on our holiday. Now, I don't know if I was being biased or not, but I found the "Min Min Encounter" to be spell binding. I would recommend anyone who goes through Boulia to go and see it as it was top class and worth the money. Unfortunately not staying at Boulia meant that my daughter would have absolutely no chance of seeing "Min Min" lights. Or, would she. Just you wait, to hear what's coming up.

After seeing the "Min Min Encounter" and having a bit of lunch, we pushed on to Mt. Isa. On our drive to Mt. Isa I saw loads of limestone and many had stacks and stacks of crystals attached to them, but because I had to get to Mt. Isa, I could not afford to stop and explore. But, I found the strip from Boulia to Mt. Isa to be of high potential for the fossicker. One day I hope to have another chance to fossick that portion of ground. Truly it looks really good.

We arrived in Mt. Isa around the 4:00 pm mark and easily managed to get some accommodation. We ended up staying at the Riverside Tourist Park (07 4743 3904) at 195 West Street, Mt. Isa, which not only is pretty good, but also has a gem shop on the premises. We found Mt. Isa to be very good, with many tourist activities to do and many locations nearby for fossicking. I would certainly think that the Mt. Isa area is right up there for being one of the better locations for the serious mineral collector to use as a base, for mineral fossicking. In town there is the "Outback" at Isa" Tourist Information Centre (http://www.outbackatisa.com.au ), which houses 2 museum's. The historical museum and the Riversleigh Fossil Museum. We only went through the Riversleigh Fossil Museum, but found it very interesting. It has a web site of http://www.riversleigh.qld.gov.au. Its displays are very professionally done and I took lots of photos there.

There is so much to see and do in Mt. Isa that one could have a holiday alone in this area without any problems at all. There are the mine tours, the underground hospital, Lawn Hill Gorge, Riversleigh Fossil Fields, Camooweal Caves, Sybella Creek fossicking site, Lake Julius for gold panning, and many many other activities to do in and around the area.

After having our fleeting visit to the Isa we then made our way to Richmond. On the drive to Richmond, keep your eyes peel for "Moon Rocks". From Mt. Isa you will pass by Mary Kathleen a former uranium-mining town and then to and through Cloncurry. You may choose to spend some time in Cloncurry as there is some pretty good fossicking in the area for Amethysts. Not far up the road too is the Fullerton River, another good location for garnets, which needless to say is the home of the famous Fullerton River Garnet. I absolutely love the mulberry colour of the Fullerton River garnets, they are really beautiful.

We arrived at Richmond in the mid afternoon after pottering around in the morning and tinkering about on the way. I must say, I do love Richmond's "U Think Theysaurus" signs. I found Richmond to be a pretty little town with a pretty looking lakelet. We ended up staying at the Ammonite Motel. I found the accommodation in Richmond to only really have accommodation at either end of the accommodation spectrum. The caravan park didn't look too bad though, but the cabins did not really look like an option.

In Richmond there is another fossils museum, and it is not too bad either. You certainly can't miss the Kronaoaurus Korner, though. The public toilets are a bit PreHIStoric and PreHERtoric also. We did a bit of fossicking in one of the 3 local council fossicking sites and I must say, that one would have to be dead not to find some fossils in this area. There are many many fossils of shells, but we were lucky enough to find some fossilized teeth.

Now do you remember me mentioning earlier on about the "Min Min" light thing. Well, this is where it happened. My daughter, who is a bit of a brave individual, suggested to me that we pay a visit to the local Pioneer Cemetery and take some night photographs. Now, I don't know if she was getting bored or not, but anyway, she managed to talk me into doing it. What happened next, would be enough to convert the staunchest skeptic. It was after having a counter meal dinner at the local pub, which I must add was pretty damn good, we made our way to the cemetery. Oh, yes I also forgot to say, this was at night too. Just for a bit of fun for her I told her I would call in the ghosts and I did. You know, just to add a bit of fun and a bit of tension to the event. We then took some photographs with the digital camera and I said "can I have a look". My daughter was sort of in shock. I said "what's up". And she showed me the photo that we just took. All in all I have now counted about 72 "Orbs" or "Min Min" lights in the shot. I must admit I was in a bit of shock too. If you click on the above link you can view those "Orbs".

Anyway we then tried to take another quick shot, but the camera would not work after taking only 1 or 2 more photos. On inspection of the camera, we saw that the memory card was still full of shots from the previous holiday. We then quickly deleted those shots and took some more photos, but no "Orbs" or "Min Mins". Poo I thought, so I said to Lauren, let me call in the ghosts again and so I did. Sure enough directly after doing that we again got stacks of "Orbs" in every shot. Trouble now is I can't take any shots without those "Orbs" being in them. Fortunately it is only in night shots.

Our next stop off was Charters Towers and fortunately I had the foresight to organize for us to stay in Charters Towers for several nights. But first on our way to Charters Towers, which was not really that far up the road from Richmond. By this stage I was getting pretty used to the kilometers each day. On our way we stopped at Hughenden and checked out the model of "Hughie" the Muttaburrasaurus and had a look through the Information Centers Museum. If you have the time, Chudleigh Park, is about 170 kilometres North of Hughenden. But Porcupine Gorge is only 64 kilometres north of Hughenden.

The tourist magazines boast that Porcupine Gorge is Australia's mini Grand Canyon. If you have ever been to the Grand Canyon, and I have, you will know that Porcupine Gorge does not even come in at a close runner up to the Grand Canyon, as the Grand Canyon is about 30 kilometres across at it's widest point. Porcupine Gorge would be lucky to make a few hundred metres across at its widest point. Despite of the not too accurate comparison, it is pretty impressive just the same. I would think that it is well worth the effort to go and see it. By the way there is quite a nice camping ground there as well. There is an impressive rock formation there too called Pyramid Rock, and it does look like a pyramid.

So we finally arrived at Charters Towers and what a wonderful place Charters Towers is. It would not be hard to spend at least 5 days in this town. Unfortunately we were only to be there for 2 days. Did you know that not only can gold be fossicked and panned for in Charters Towers, but just west of Charters Towers on the main highway into the town in a few of the creeks small sapphires and zircons can be obtained in the wash in the usual traps.

Charters Towers is a beautiful old Gold Mining town, not unlike many of the old gold towns of Victoria and in many ways it reminded me of Mount Morgan, which is just west of Rockhampton.

For a good portion we just wandered around the town admiring the old buildings. The theme of Charters Towers is "Ghosts of Gold" Tours. There is the sunset Tour "Ghosts of Gold" (Fantastic), The Venus Battery Tour (Fantastic), The Miners Cottage, The old Stock Exchange, The World Theatre, and many other places of interest. I tried a spot of fossicking, but to be totally honest I was enjoying the tourist thing too much in Charters Towers to bother too much with fossicking. It was actually a nice break. One night I took a photograph of the spectacularly lit World Theatre and yep, those darn "Orbs" again, but not only that there is an interesting image at the doorway. Have a look at the photograph and tell me what you think it is.

We reluctantly packed up on the third day and headed north up the inland Lynd highway on our way to Mt. Surprise. Just a word of warning, this stretch of road has very few petrol stops and I paid $1.11 a litre for petrol at the Lynd. Now that is an interesting little stop over. We were going to buy some morning tea / early lunch, but decided to drive on (hungry). As we had left Charters Towers pretty early we were making pretty good time and we had decided to go on an Undara Lava Tube tour on our way to Mt. Surprise. We arrived at Undara around lunch, so we bought 3 tickets, to a tour for 2 pm and so we drove into Mt. Surprise, booked into the Mt. Surprise Caravan Park, and had some lunch. I would just like to add, you may recall that I said at the beginning of this story, "This was to be our first introduction to the world of expensive and in my opinion poor value for money "Outback" tourism.", well for 3 tickets for a 2 hour tour into the tubes, it cost me $105.00. Trouble was that I had traveled thousands of kilometers and I had listed the Undara Lava Tubes as a "Must See" and there was just no way round not paying their ransom. So I gritted my teeth and handed over the small fortune. By the way too, the tour of the tubes (2) only went for 1 hour. Never mind, that is just how it is sometimes.

I must add though that I did take one photo in one of the tubes, which in my opinion, is world class. If it is published you will see why. I swear it has not been touched up in any way, whatsoever.

To increase my chances I first decided to divine for a highly mineralize spot to dig, as there is no real way of knowing what spot has not been dug before. So I did the old divine thing and having identified a suitable spot I started to dig. I got down to about 2 feet and then I stated to get topaz. In very short time later I hit the brown decomposed wash, where the stones hide. In all I dug 7 stones with 2 of them being pretty little blues. In the 7 stones, 6 were cutters. Not a bad tally for less than 2 hours of very easy digging. So that the family would not get too bored, who I had left in the car and fortunately both had good books to read, I returned to the car, as I was satisfied with my small haul and we headed back to Mt. Surprise for a late lunch. We then headed out that afternoon for Georgetown.

I must say that Georgetown is not a very impressive little place, but it is a good launching place for agates and gold. Agate Creek is just down the road, beyond Forsayth and the area boasts some good gold fields too. But most importantly I feel, Georgetown hosts the Terrestrial Museum, which houses "The Ted Elliott Mineral Collection" and this is a very good attraction for the town. All I can say is "GO THERE". One word describes it "SPECTACULAR". While I must say that up to this point, I had not done a large amount of fossicking, the whole family was very happy and we were all having a really good time and the holiday was based upon the treasures of the earth. On my return that afternoon I returned to Mt. Surprise Gems (07 4062 3055) (e-mail mtsurprisegems@bigpond.com) and bought a few cutters from Pete and Pam Blackburn. That way I was able to go away with more topaz than I had dug and not only that they were hand picked. I guess something that you can't do when you dig for them. We enjoyed that night at the Mount Surprise Hotel, where like the night before, we feasted on another counter meal, equally as enjoyable as the night before, and were administered thirst aid.

The next day we headed north to Atherton. I would say that the next couple of legs of the journey were exploratory in their nature. We had a little look at Mt. Garnet, where I am told that beautiful specimens of twined green garnets can and have been found. Before we arrived at Atherton we had decided to pull into The Ravenshoe Information Centre and collect some brochures on the tablelands. I have actually been to the Atherton Tablelands on several occasions, but over the passage of time I had forgotten the exact roads to the various sights. It was also like it was on queue. We had arrived in the Rain Forest and what did it do, it rained. Up to that point we had a daily standing joke, when if we even saw a wisp of cloud in the sky, and we were even lucky to see that on 90% of the days, we would say ohhh it looks like the weather is going bad, it will probably rain today. Here we were in the Rain Forest and it was raining. While in Atherton we did all of the touristy things, by looking at all of the Waterfalls, lakes, trees, swamps, crater, forests and other buildings and places. I was hoping to go into the Crystal Cave, but could just not justify the cost of the entry to see what may have been on offer there.

The following day we headed off to Cooktown. I was really looking forward to seeing the Palmer River Gold Field as I have read so much about it in "Gold and Ghosts - D W de Havelland", "River of Gold - Hector Holthouse", "Back o' Cairns - Ion Idress" and various books and articles about the famous river and I was also looking forward to seeing the geological marvel of "Black Mountain". I think that it was on that leg of the journey that we lost our windscreen. A small tray back truck passed us on coming and as it passed us it swerved into the gravel and bingo a great big stone / rock hit the windscreen, somewhere. All was OK I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought for sure we would have a clear hole through the screen. The next think I started to see a hairline crack inching its way up the windscreen from a space just under my windscreen wiper. From that point I actually felt pretty good, as I knew that the windscreen from then on was bullet proof. It did not matter about rocks hitting the windscreen then as I figured that I had already lost it. Do your worst I said.

We stopped at the Palmer River and took some photos of the historical river and drove over the bridge and dropped into the Roadhouse which is situated overlooking the river. At that point the Palmer River is quite a way down. I would estimate that the bridge is probably about 30 or 40 feet above the sandy riverbed. We refreshed ourselves and headed on to Cooktown. The last 96 kilometres are dirt and the road is not too bad. I did note that there was a reasonable amount of quartz on the sides of the road on and off. When we finally arrived at Cooktown, which I must add is beautiful; I specked around a bit and did find a quantity of quite pretty micro crystals in quartz specimens and black schorl tourmaline crystals by themselves.

Many of the Palmer River prospectors, landed in Cooktown and they then made their way down to the field anyway they could. In those days, they did not have four-wheel drives and the track to the Palmer River was narrow, windy, long and very dangerous. They had to face snakes, very hostile aboriginals, food shortages, floods, thieves, and many other hardships not to mention disease and sicknesses. There were no doctors, just up the road who could help or a corner shop if they ran out of food. This is hot wild country. After exploring the Cooktown area we made our way back home to Brisbane down via the coast. The holiday was now nearing its end and that is how it was feeling, hey, but the petrol was getting cheaper.

We were going to spend the next night in Cairns, but you know after spending nearly 2 weeks in the outback we couldn't stand the population thing. Cairns was just too big for us, so we just drove and we drove happily avoiding big towns. Now it was quite funny as when we were in Mount Surprise I could have sworn that I saw my mate Gary from the North Brisbane Lapidary Club heading into the diggings as we headed out. I tried to call him on his UHF then, but got no answer. It was when we were driving over the saddle at the Hinchinbrook Lookout there we met face to face. We were pulling in to the lookout to see the view and there Gary was also admiring the view. From then on we chatted on the UHF for the next 100 km or so. Gary was recounting to us his finds of gold, topaz and peridot. Finally we drove into Ayr and declared via unanimous and popular vote that Ayr was OK and that is where we stayed for the night. I would really recommend any fossicker who is out in isolated areas pick up some sort of UHF radio, as they are absolutely marvelous.

The next day we headed off bright and early and punched on, but we did do a bit of a sight seeing tour around Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour, and once again I cringed at the intensity of its population and after being in the bush for 2 weeks I could not get out of the place fast enough.

As we drove down the Sarina - Marlborough stretch I relaxed once again and I imagined if I had the time I could do a bit of fossicking in the Marlborough area for that beautiful stone chrysoprase, which can be found there if you are persistent and lucky. Just outside of Bowen at Mt. Coolon, good gold can be found there, but most of it is covered in an ironstone coating. I would say that it is sort of lucky dip gold, you don't know what you have got until you unwrap it.

For those who have studied their geology, you may wish to pay a visit at the Mt. Etna Caves at "The Caves". We paid for a family ticket to see the Capricorn Caves. And oh my we did it again. I took lots of photographs inside the caves and what did I get. Yep, more "Orbs". I showed the photographs to the Tour Guide and she said "Oh my God". She then told me that the local aboriginal people will not enter the caves, as they believe that the spirits of their dead live in the caves. We then headed off again on our journey home. Not only are there caves in that area there is also gold. This gold can be found in and around Mt. Morgan, Bouldercombe, which I believe is found down at 20 odd feet and at Yepoon. Onwards we pushed to Gladstone and that night we spent the night in Gladstone. I have been told that there is or was a gold mine / shaft in the hill right next to the river mouth in the Gladstone area city itself. When I was there in 1977, the shaft was quite visible, but now it appears that it has been covered up, by a man made waterfall.

The following day we drove home to Brisbane, from Gladstone. But, on our way I met up with a truly amazing man, Brett Green at Gympie. I have e-mailed Brett on several occasions before in my pursuits for lost archeological sites and Brett has helped me out in those areas. Brett is the Author of 6 CD e-books, which are foremost about the aboriginal clans in and around the Gympie area. During our meeting, Brett told me of many stories of the Spanish, Chinese and Egyptian's exploring the east coast of Australia and the evidence, which they have left behind. Makes one think. I have seen some of that evidence of those visits and some can be seen in the Gympie historical museum, but those items, well that is another story all together. Brett also advised me that he touches on some of those issues in his CD e-books and so what did I do I bought the set of 6. He has advised me that;

"It was great meeting up with you both during your travels. Everything okay this end. Getting ready for a research-pleasure trip to Cairns-Cooktown-Karumba region in four weeks.

I know the magazine (Gold Gem & Treasure) - quite a good one. Have picked up a copy (when I can get one). I have no problem with using my name etc etc in your article - advise me when the edition comes out with your story - then I can rush in and get a copy before they disappear. If you are mentioning the books - make sure you refer to them as CD E-Books for Computer Users (fully downloadable and printable) - and that the set comprises 6 individual CD's.

My updated new Website will operate from 1st October2004 ...

My updated new Website will operate from 1st October2004 ... www.degrene.spiderweb.com.au (titled Rainbow Spirit Warriors) My email address is ... degrene@spiderweb.com.au My postal address is... 52 Red Hill Road, Gympie. 4570. Qld. Aust."

Brett also told me, as I showed him the pictures of the "Orbs" / "Min Min's" "Re your "Orbs" - absolutely fascinating!. Truly amazing! And I believe your assumptions may be correct. The Ka'bi aborigines of this region believed the "Min'minumboo: Min Min" lived in caves and other dark hidden places during the day and came out only at night. The "Min Min" according to the Ka'bi in my area believed they were the lost "Soul Lights of the Dead" looking for the pathway out of the Underworld and the world of darkness into which they were cast. The "Night Hawk Messenger" helps to find their way with the "Owl Spirit" riding on his back - his great shining eyes of wisdom guiding the way through the darkness to the great "Kookaburra Spirit Guardian" in the sky who lets everyone know of their safe arrival by laughing loudly for all to hear."

Well that certainly injected some spirit into me.

As far as this adventure went, I would say that it was a roaring success. Now that is how to have a fossicking holiday, a touring holiday and an exploring holiday all in the one, where every person in the family can have a good time. My family is now asking me when and where is the next holiday is going to be to. Look's like I'm going fossicking again. Hmmm, Victoria looks good.