Stanthorpe Area
Thanes Creek
Warwick Area

STANTHORPE

Written by Paul Clacher Copyright 2000


 The Stanthorpe area has a bounty of gemstones and if you dig in just about any creek you are at least bound to find some quartz crystals. Well as long as you know what you are doing. Who knows you may even find a Topaz or two. According to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Geological Survey 1974, Topaz can be found in the gravel's of Spring Creek, Hunts Creek, Cannon Creek, Quartpot Creek, the head of the Broadwater, Funker's Gap, Bald Rock Creek (don't go there, as it is now a National Park), Ten-Mile Creek, and Swipers Gully. The report indicates that Zircons, Beryl, Sapphires, and diamonds have been found in these locations. Keep in mind the report was written in 1974 and that was over 30 years ago. A lot of stones have been taken out since that date. Other spots which have been indicated in the report, and various other books, include Kettle Swamp Creek, the Severn River, Sugarloaf Creek, Lode Creek, Woolshed Gully and Arbouin's Gully.

The official Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy area for fossicking is in the Passchendaele State Forest SF 263 at Swipers Gully Topaz Locality. This is near Amiens which is 13 km Northwest of Stanthorpe. It is a bit tricky to find the location. The departmental directions are "from Amiens head West along the Goldfields Road for about 0.7 km and turn left into the State Forest at the brown and white striped guide posts. Travel South for 1.4 km, turn left, then almost immediately right and keep travelling South until the 'T' junction is reached (about 1.3 km) Turn right and travel a further 0.6 km. Swiper's Gully fossicking site is located on the right." I would also recommend a four wheel drive. The department advertises that gem quality Topaz occur on part of the State Forest. I have been there and I wish you luck. Once you find your way to the actual fossicking area you would probably find some Quartz Crystals without too much trouble, but I did give a fair go at the Topaz and found zero. As I said you may have better luck. I have since been advised that besides your Fossicking Permit, you also require a Forestry Permit to enter the area. Oh yes, the time I was there, I saw about ten snakes in the matter of about two hours.

Besides gemstones there are numerous wineries in and around the Stanthorpe area, and by the time I have up loaded this onto the internet there will probable be a couple more. I think it is fair to say, that it depends what you want to go to Stanthorpe for. There is an excellent Wine industry with lots of wineries and everything that goes with that. These wineries include, Bald Mountain Vineyards, Ballandean Estate, The Bramble Patch, Bungawarra Wines, Catspaw Farm Winery, Felsberg Winery, Golden Grove, Granite Ridge Wines, Heritage Wines , Hidden Creek, Inigo Wines, Kominos, Robinsons Family Vinyards, Old Caves Winery, Rumbalara, Severn Brae Estates, Stanthorpe Wine Centre, Stone Ridge Vinyards and Winewood Vinyard & Winery, to mention but a few.

Within the Stanthorpe area there are bush walks and National Parks. These include Sundown National Park, Girraween National Park, Boonoo Boonoo National Park, Bald Rock National Park and several State Forests. There are waterfalls and caves. Some interesting spots include Donnelley's Castle, The Water Caves, The Pyramids and Bald Rock. There are several Waterfalls and of course Thunderbolts Cave off the Old Caves Road. Half the fun of these caves is finding them. They are on private property and permission is necessary. I would suggest taking a good rope or rope ladder and torch with you if you intend going into the main cave. In spring the place just comes alive with wild flowers. There is a multitude of fruits. After all it is the stone fruit capital of Australia. There is a wonderful Museum in town. And it seems as though there is a festival of some sort every other weekend. There is fishing in the area. There is a strip of small townships ranging from Dalveen, Cottonvale, Thulimbah, The Summit, Applethorpe, Stanthorpe itself, Severnlea, Glen Aplin, Ballandean  and Wallangarrarra at the border. There is also Eukey and Storm King Dam. Accommodation includes Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, Motels, Farm Stays Camping and Caravan Parks and if I have left anyone out I apologise. I am not including any photographs as I cannot really capture the spirit of the area in just one or two photographs. As I said, it depends entirely on what you are going to Stanthorpe for. I must add though, it is one of my favourite spots. I often stay at the Blue Topaz Caravan Park at Severnlea. Should you wish to make a booking, the telephone number is 07 4683 5279 of fax 07 4683 5280.
 

THANES CREEK AREA

Thanes Creek is located about 40 km West of Warwick and it is possible to find gold in this fossicking area.

I have found Talgai (originally known as Darkie's Flat) to be an interesting location. Talgai is also actually quite famous for the Talgai Skull. The article at the preceding Web Site is very interesting and suggests a hominid connection through the appearance of canine teeth ("The canine teeth, for example, were interpreted as having a size and morphology consistent with an ape-like canine-premolar cutting complex") and a sagittal crest and it may be of interest as a result to view the following two web sites (Wild and Hairy Men The Greatest of the Great Apes? By David McBean) and (Yowies Fact or Fiction? By Gary Opit). Now the spots I am talking of are not sign posted and in the main they are not generally open to the public. But having said that, I have found that most farmers will allow you onto their properties once you have introduced yourself to them, told them what you are on about, what you would like to see and generally have indicated to them you are a decent person. Usually they are happy to know that you have done some research and know a little of their area. But this part is entirely up to you. The gold from this area was coarse and many nuggets ranging from 1 to 16 ounces were discovered. The largest nugget found in this area was 55 ounces. Now Talgai has many old Gold Mines on many properties. Some I have visited, some I have not, but the ones I have were really old and interesting. I have one pictured, but this is just one of many which litter the area. There are many open shafts in the area and caution must be observed. Oh yes, this particular spot is actually infested with trap-door spiders and I do mean infested. Their nests area about 30 centimetres apart. I was actually bitten by a Golden Orb shortly after taking this photograph and I can tell you it was painful. Don't ever let your guard down in the bush.

Not far from Talgai if the small township of Pratten. Pratten itself is not overly inspiring but just a little North west of Pratten is Mount Gammie and Mount Gammie North. These locations are worth a visit, but you will definitely need a four wheel drive. Don't even try to attempt to go up these mountains in anything but a four wheel drive. At the top the area is absolutely peppered with mine shafts and old mining equipment. I have been told nuggets can be found in the area, but check the leases first. There is a manganese deposit on the spot of Mount Gammie about 200 metres South of the trigonometrical station on the summit. It was discovered in 1884. Care needs to be take here as the shaft is quite dangerous. Leyburn is just up the road and is also a gold mining area. At Thanes Creek there is a Camping Ground an fossicking area called Glendon Camping Ground. I understand gold fossicking can be done in this area. (The phone number is 07 4667 4756) I have been to Glendon it is certainly well worth a visit, for a relaxing break.

Just South of Thanes Creek, is an area called Canal Creek. This must have been an extremely rich area , as about 22,000 ounces of gold came out of this field. The alluvial wash can be found from 5 to 12 feet, bottoming on pipe clay. There was actually quite a lot of gold won from the Warwick area and I am sure there is still a lot hiding there. If you are looking for rainforests this is not the area for you.
 

WARWICK AREA

Warwick itself is a town of beautiful old buildings and hours upon hours can be spent walking around admiring the arcitecture of early Australia. East of Warwick is the Freestone area. I have explored this area and found once the road narrows and starts to head into the hills this is where it starts to become scenic. The road really narrows towards the end but a four wheel drive will afford you much more versatility. If you drive as far as you can walking will also reward you with a pretty bush environment. But don't forget watch out for snakes, especially in the warmer months. There are reports of Common Opal in this area and also alluvial gold. There appears to be some doubt as to whether the actual metal found was gold or iron pyrites. In this Eastern region, the Yangan and  Rockbrae area are also interesting. There are a number of restored old buildings at Yangan well worth a photo. I have included the School of Arts below, but I have not included the Masonic Lodge and the Post Office, which I think would make a good photo too. As with the Freestone Creek area, the Yangan and Rockbrae areas have dead end gorge country too. If you like exploring, these are worth a drive to the end too, such as Hell Hole Creek and Emu Creek.  It has been reported that small quantities of Agates have been found in the alluvium in Emu Creek which is in the upper part of the Swanfels Valley. Petrified wood can also be found near Tannymorel.

These spots are actually just on the other side of the hill of "The Head", and in fact if you drive a little South to Killarney you can drive up into "The Head". As you approach Killarney, there is quite a spectacular cliff face behind the town where people Hang Glide from. This is actually the start of the Head Gorge country from the Killarney side. Now just south of Killarney is a intrusive granite area. I suspect topaz  and quartz crystals may be found in this area. I don't know, I just suspect there should be some hiding there somewhere. Marble can be found at Silverwood, which is West of Killarney and South East of Warwick. Gold has also been located in this area.

To the West of Warwick is Leslie Dam or Lake Leslie. This is a resort type youth camp. The actual dam itself is quite large and allows for canoeing and fishing. There are quite lovely picnic and barbecue areas at the dam wall. You can also drive a way around the dam on the South-eastern side on Washpool Road and there are some access spots. These would be very good for a quite fish. Now along the Glen Road area there is a road called Ford Road, I believe the Rhodonite mine called "The Glen" is located along this road. From driving past the mine, it appears to be more of a quarry type of mine. I have not been to the actual mine itself, but I am told the Rhodonite from there is of good quality. It is on private property and permission must be sought prior to any fossicking. Don't be disappointed if you can't get permission as this is all part of fossicking.

To the North of Warwick is Allora and Clifton. These two small country towns are off the main highway but are worth a look at and some photos of the old buildings worth while. There is supposed to be a lost gold reef somewhere around these towns. It was said that two aboriginal brothers once where supposed to be looking after a herd of horses or cattle. They found a rich reef of gold and a fight ensued. One was killed in the fight and the other was mortally wounded by an axe injury. He survived for a while and was subsequently found. He later died from his wounds, but before he died he told of a rich reef of gold they had found. The local town folk had no choice but to believe him as he still had a large portion of gold encrusted reef in his possession. The locals searched far and wide, but the reef was never found. To the Northeast of Warwick is the Goomburra camping area. Somewhere in the Dalrymple Creek near Goomburra are poor quality sapphires. I have been told, you can find them in the creek gravels but they are all fractured as they cooled down too quickly when they were being formed. (What a shame)
 

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