There’s nothing better than getting out and enjoying Victoria’s great outdoors, especially this time of year and Earth Resources Regulation Inspectors noticed plenty of people trying their arms at fossicking in the state’s north east during the Melbourne Cup weekend.
Victoria’s mining regulator conducted spot checks of fossicking in state and national parks near Beechworth, including areas around Reedy Creek, McFeeters Road and Woolshed Falls, finding all participants in possession of a valid Miners Right.
Fossicking is a low impact way of looking for gems or minerals that provides occasional Eureka moments. It is permitted in some national parks, state parks and waterways provided you hold a Miners Right. It is also permitted on private property subject to landholder consent.
Fossicking may involve using metal detectors, picks, shovels, sieves and pans. Fossickers are expected to backfill any holes they create, keep their vehicles on tracks and take their rubbish home.
To minimise their footprint, fossickers are not permitted to use mechanical equipment or explosives to excavate and must not remove or damage vegetation or Aboriginal objects.
Penalties for not adhering to the conditions of a Miner’s Right can result in fines of up to $16,000 and conducting mining activities without a licence may lead to a fine of up to $32,000.
In August 2019, Victoria’s mining regulator issued official warnings to two men who were illegally fossicking for gold in the Ovens River at Bright.
A Miner’s Right costs $25.20, is valid for 10 years and can result in some big Eureka moments. In May a family discovered a $35,000 gold nugget while walking their dog north of Bendigo. Earlier this year a gold nugget worth about $150,000 was discovered near Dunolly.
Earth Resources Regulation regulates recreational fossicking and mining in Victoria, with Inspectors frequently conducting spot checks around the state to ensure activities are conducted properly, safely and without harm to the environment.