Torrington a Town Built on Tin

Written by Paul Clacher copyright 2005

On 14 April 2005 I arrived at the Torrington Caravan Park (02 6734 6264) to the greetings of my mate Peter the current National President of the Australian Facetors Guild (AFG) and his wife Moya. Peter and I were the advance party of the Moreton Bay Branch of the AFG and I was the Field Trip Officer for this little excursion.

The Entrance of the Torrington Caravan Park

Pretty soon I was settled in with my little Jayco campervan right next to Peter's Caravan and we were right next to the cooking hut. I must add that the Torrington Caravan Park is a pretty little place with numerous relics of the past located along the front fence.

A Steam Engine


An Old Articulated Dray

Peter and I had a bit of a chat and sorted out what areas we would be checking out the following day. I was also talking to someone else at the Caravan Park and they told me that my old acquaintance Patrick O'Brien was also staying there. I quickly ducked down to see Patrick and had a short talk with him and invited him back for a few drinks after dinner. After a nice barbeque on the camp Barbie and a couple of drinks Patrick came up to the Camp Barbie and social area and we all had enjoyable night. I must add that Patrick was most entertaining with many of his amusing little stories and it is not hard to tell that Patrick has been around. After an enjoyable evening I hit the sack with anticipation good things to come.

The Duck Creek / Blather Arm Road Junction

I awoke the following day to glorious weather. I said good by to Patrick and after breakfast Peter and I set off up the Blather Arm road and conducted a bit of an exploration of that area based on a few tips I have been given where the stones are currently hiding. After looking at that area, we headed up the Duck Creek Road in search of other areas.

The Windless at Mica Hill

A short drive took us up to Mica Hill and the Beryl digs, after a little jaunt up a dead end track.

Of course we meant to go up that track. No, truly we were not lost. Anyway, we finally found the right track. And I must add the area is a bit of a maze of tracks, and if you don't have a copy of a map or a copy of Hylda Bracewell's mud maps, it is not hard to get lost. A quick recce of the old Dingo tin workings also looked promising. We then drove back to the Caravan Park via the "short cut" road past Fielders Hill and checked out a few spots there.

The Fielder's Hill Mine

After lunch we headed out in my car and checked out the viability of stones in a few of my secret locations. One spot that I intended to do a bit of exploratory crevicing turned out to be a bit more of a bother than I had anticipated. Now Torrington has not had any rain for many months, but just up the road a bit where I intended to have a bit of a dig the rain was coming down in bucket loads. As I did not really feel like getting wet, and also as we had plenty of other spots organized Peter and I decided to head back to camp.

On our arrival back at the Caravan Park all other participating members had arrived ready for a weekend of fossicking fun.

Day 1 Saturday 16/04/05

At 8:30 am we, (Peter, John, Paul (The three other Apostles), Laurie, Phil, Des, Moya, Hazel and Thelma) in convoy in the choking dust like a caterpillar train traveled to the "Dingo" diggings, hoping to find "the stone". We did a bit of a reconnaissance of the area, with a bit of "specking" as we went.

Pretty soon we all had our prospective areas pegged out and we were all into it full steam. John being the geologist was on top of a mullock heap, with his wife Hazel and his trusty geo pick cracking rocks, looking for fine specimens. For a short while I also cracked rocks looking for interesting micro vughs and I must add I did find quiet a few, nice specimens too. Not all treasures are faceting grade gemstones and I have now discovered the beauty of the micro world.

Some of us were digging in creek crevices, some were digging at the top of the banks, some of us were digging in old holes and I had decided to dig an old alluvial concretion around a tree. I was pretty sure no one had dug here for many many years. An old acquaintance friend of mine from Emmaville had shown me a few old tricks and this time I thought I was on the money. Well after three hours of hard digging and dry sieving through my self-clearing sieve concentrator I thought that it was about time to wash my concentrates and see what I had. As I separated the sieves I specked one topaz of cutting size. Shortly afterwards I had washed all of my mornings work and had a grand total of nothing. Yes nothing!!! As they say, S..t Happens!!! Never mind that, Phil had half filled a small canister with blues and clears and while only a few were cutters, he had done quite well by comparison.

After lunch we, split into two groups, and one group went up to Mica Hill and tried their hand at finding quartz crystals and specimens, while myself and a few others went to the emerald mine tailings specking and sieving for small emeralds. Digging is permitted in the old emerald tailings, but entrance to the fenced off emerald mine audit is strictly forbidden. After a few hours that afternoon, we drove back to camp in our dust-laden chariots and compared our booty. It was a close race between quartz specimens and emeralds, but I think that the emeralds crossed the line and won first place by a crystal tip.

Phil Inspecting One of His Finds

That afternoon we started happy hour around 4:30 pm, which extended into the night and we all sat around the camp hut fireplace and told stories until tiredness overtook us all.

The Entrance to the Emerald Mine

During the evening we were amused for a short while by the antics of a curious and slightly hungry possum.

Our Little Possum Overseer

Day 2 Sunday 17/04/05

On Sunday morning we headed off to the meeting point of the Emerald mine and after a short time specking and sieving we headed off to try our hand at finding some more topaz from the wolfram workings of the Elliott mine. Once again John was in his element on yet another mullock heap. We found a few old camps in this area and a remnant chimney of days gone by, including an old bottle dump, but alas all of the bottles were broken.

An Old Chimney in the Bush

Whilst the Elliott Wolfram Mine area did not produce many Topaz for the enthusiastic fossickers, we were rewarded with an interesting area. I did a bit of exploring in the area and found a holding dam, which when full I would actually call it a lakelet. I also saw that some pigs had found the dam too, along with probably every other animal in the area. John walked up to the dam after I brought it up to his attention and he then brought it to my attention that I had just walked right past a quite large blue-bellied black snake. An extremely venomous snake I am told. Hmmmm!!!!!

We all did manage to find some crystal tips and a few chips of Topaz, but nothing really to warrant going back to the Elliott Wolfram Mine area again on future visits. After a few hours of exploring and digging, we all went back to the camp and had lunch. Some decided to go back to the emerald mine and beryl diggings and try their hand at finding some pretty green stones, whilst a few of us decided to drive down to the neighboring town of Emmaville and have a browse through the Mining Museum. If you are ever in the Torrington or Emmaville area the Emmaville Mining Museum is well worth a look in. Phil had found a red ants nest and found that those little red workers had done a bit of mining of their own and had in fact brought up a few bits of emerald to the surface. So he lightened their nest of those pretty little green stones. What clever little ants.

Welcome to Emmaville


The Emmaville Mining Museum


The Emmaville Mining Museum


Some Emmaville Mining Museum Specimens


The "Ottery" Arsenic Mine, between Emmaville and Torrington


The "Ottery" Arsenic Mine, between Emmaville and Torrington


On our return to Torrington that afternoon, we noted many of the Tin Mining relics around the township, such at the Tin Crushers, The "Buddle" and numerous old miners huts.

The Tin Crusher


The "Buddle" Tin Concentrator


Typical Old Tin Miners Hut at Torrington

John had advised that he had to head off that afternoon and Des was going to head off in the morning along with Peter and Moya. I was going to stay until the Tuesday, but I had a most unfortunate accident by having one of my tyres being staked, and I did not fancy driving around those bush tracks with only just four functional tyres, just in case I got another flat. So, I too packed up on the Monday 18/04/05 and called it quits for the weekend. Now, Laurie has advised me, that he and Phil did go back to a Beryl dig on the Monday, and they found over 100 bits of beryl between them. So, I guess it just might have been a good idea to stay for that extra day. One never knows what may be found on those fossicking trips.

Hmmmm, anyway next year, Emmaville might be worth a look around, who knows.