There’s something strangely soothing about standing in a gushing cold stream, meticulously sorting through pebbles and soil for something special.
On a trip to Weldborough, the Sunday Examiner uncovered a tiny sapphire and pieces of topaz in the Weld River.
We picked up the rented gear, entailing a small shovel, a large shovel, and a small and a large pan from the Weldborough Hotel.
After parking near the river a 10-minute drive away, we traipsed through bush toward the Weld River.
We shovelled stony sediment out of the river and into our fossicking pans, with the lager grated pan layered its smaller counterpart, catching the sediment likely to hold treasure.
At first swiftly removing large rocks, we painstakingly picked through the smaller matter, hoping to stumble across a gem.
We located many little pieces of topaz, cloudy quartz, ‘fool’s gold’, and even came across a tiny sapphire.
Prospectors and Miners Association of Tasmania president Miguel De Salas said the Weld River region was his favourite area in Tasmania to fossick for sapphires.
It takes a flood to re-mobilise all of the sediment load in the river and re-charge all those spots where heavy materials collect.Prospectors and Miners Association of Tasmania president Miguel De Salas
He has been fossicking for sapphires for about 20 years.
Mr De Salas said the most popular gems to fossick for in Tasmania were sapphires, and to a lesser extent, topaz and zircons.
North-East Tasmania is known as a successful sapphire fossicking spot.
Recent heavy rains caused an upheaval in creek beds and river sediment.
This meant there was a rejuvenation of fossicking resources.
Gemstones and gold sink beneath regular river or creek gravel and lodges in sediment traps.
“The places where it collects is where we go and dig, and eventually those places where there’s a high concentration of things to fossick for get exhausted,” Mr De Salas said.
“It takes a flood to re-mobilise all of the sediment load in the river and re-charge all those spots where heavy materials collect,” he said.
He said that although they may be eager to get back to fossicking after heavy rains, it was important to consider safety before entering a body of water.
The Prospectors and Miners Association of Tasmania began last year and currently has 58 members.
The group was formed to encourage and protect fossicking, prospecting and small-scale mining in the state.
So far, the group has led two field trips including one around the Weld River.
To learn more about the club, or to take up a membership, visit www.pmat.org.au.