A fossicker panning for gold in Sofala, New South Wales.

If you're keen to try your luck at unearthing gems, minerals or fossils, join a fossicking club in your area.

The Gem & Lapidary Council NSW has a list of clubs in NSW, many of which organise fossicking adventures.

NSW Guide to Fossicking

Before you start rummaging in your neighbour's garden, take a look at the NSW Guide to Fossicking PDF icon [5.9 MB].

The guide shows the basic rules for small scale searches and sets out the legislation that fossickers must comply with before starting. It also shows whether permission to fossick is required, and how to obtain it.

The guide details the amount of material that can be taken during a 48 hour period and the penalties incurred if the fossicking requirements are breached.

The NSW Guide to Fossicking also applies to fossicking in Lightning Ridge.

Landholder indemnity

Fossicking is a lawful activity under section 12 the Mining Act 1992 (the Act). The Act states the following under section 383C General immunity of landholders:

(1) The landholder of land within which any person (other than the landholder) is authorised to  exercise any power or right:
(a) by or under this Act, or
(b) by any authority, mineral claim, opal prospecting licence or permit under this Act,
is not subject to any action, liability, claim or demand arising as a consequence of that person's acts or omissions in the exercise, or; purported exercise, of any such power or right.
(2) In this section, landholder includes a secondary landholder.

Tips for fossicking

Awareness of personal safety is recommended while fossicking. Wear sunscreen, a large brimmed hat and closed-in shoes. Always let someone know of your plans and take plenty of water.

Fossickers also need to obtain a special purpose permit from the Forestry Corporation to fossick in state forests.

For further information
Geological Survey of NSW
02 4063 6500
Geological Survey of NSW, Planning and Environment, PO Box 344 Hunter Regional Mail Centre NSW 2310
516 High Street Maitland NSW 2320 Map