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 Post subject: Amethyst
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 6:01 pm 
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I'm kind of pre-empting this thread, nothing to actually show yet but hopefully won't be too long :)

Wife was Facebooking with one of her work colleagues last night when out of the blue, she mentioned camping at her uncle's property near Lowmead. Lowmead is where I go to dig for small, badly cracked amethyst, smokey and citrine crystals. But I have heard many people say that there are much better crystals in the area than you can find at the one small dig site that is open to the public but there is no public access to them. There is one sitting above the bar at the Lowmead pub about the size of a Gridiron ball which the barman told me came from a nearby property.

I asked if her uncle had ever found any crystals, she replied that he had found many lying on the surface over the years, including a large one he once used as a doorstop. I asked if it would be ok if I went digging there, she said it should be ok. So far so good :)

Wife asked if we could use a generator so she could put a fan and airconditioner in the camper trailer! This is about as close to camping in the wilderness as she likes to get :lol: But yes, that would be ok also.

Of course, a generator could be used to run the trommel but I won't push it that far (not yet at least). My region is highly likely well endowed with things gemmy but access to them is all but non-existent. Here is a rare opportunity!

Stay tuned....


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 10:24 pm 
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Sounds good Lefty, hope you find some nice ones.

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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:02 am 
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My wife's idea is camping is sleeping with the windows open.


Roughing it is when we had o are in New Zealand and did not have screens...

That did not last long.... I made her some.... daughter in law kind of liked it when they did not have to have fly strips up all of the time....


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:25 am 
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My wife's idea is camping is sleeping with the windows open.



:D

Mine will camp, but it usually has to be near a beach. Digging in the dirt is strictly out.

As I always say, she likes the sparkly things that come out of the dirt but won't lay a finger in the dirt itself. Guess it's my job to pursue them 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:28 am 
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Actually now waiting on a phone call this week - a friend of a friend has property at Lowmead (different one to the one previously mentioned), we're trying to organize a trip this weekend. He will let us use the trommel which is a bonus, can process more dirt that way.


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:00 pm 
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We're heading down early Saturday. Won't take the trammel this time, just wander the granite hills, panning and sieving in every gully we come to - just like old-time prospectors :) . We'll do that Saturday and Sunday and come home Monday.

My mate was a paramedic for 11 years, handy to have one of those when you're wandering around the bush.

It'll probably be him that gets bitten by something venomous :?


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 2:54 pm 
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Ok, this morning will be my first return trip to Lowmead after the alcohol-swamped, freak natural disaster weekend. Just going to the old dig site on Clarke's road. This is just a bit of fun, I haven't been fossicking in weeks, the weather here is perfect for it as we move into the Central Queensland winter - dry days with clear blue skies and pleasant daytime temps - and I have commitments the next few weekends so I need to let off steam.

As with the pyrope garnets, the fact that coloured quartz isn't worth the big $$$ like sapphires is beside the point, this is about satisfying the urge to prospect. There are patches and pockets of crystals dotted all over the area, which is made up - like most of the landscape here - of granite mountain ranges, punctuated here and there by volcano cores. I have heard of a number of places in the area where there are better quality crystals, just getting access is the problem. A bloke not far from the diggings has converted his cattle property into a park for dirt bike and offroad vehicle enthusiasts, aptly named "Clarkey's petrol-head paradise". My brother takes my niece and nephew there to ride their bikes. A few weeks ago my niece found a golf ball-sized pinkish-purple crystal beside the motorbike track. Unfortunately, there's no facetable material in it, otherwise I would have cut a nice stone for her to set in a pendant or something.

They make nice enough rock display case specimens anyhow. Sceptres and double-terminated crystals are not all that uncommon.


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2016 3:23 pm 
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Got the usual collection of cracked crystals, a few small smokey crystals I'd probably facet. Guy in another hole found a dark, smokey amethyst crystal a little smaller than a tennis ball.

Better than anything I found, I met a bloke (met him a few times down there already actually) who will take me up the back of his property down there, where it runs up into the granite mountains. Apparently there were tin miners there a long time ago so there might be something interesting in the ground.


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2016 4:00 pm 
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Tin and topaz often go hand in hand for whatever reason. Cassiterite might be a possibility, particularly the woody kind.

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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2016 10:41 pm 
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Stephen Challener wrote:
Tin and topaz often go hand in hand for whatever reason. Cassiterite might be a possibility, particularly the woody kind.


Yep, the designated fossicking areas in Far North Queensland that yield topaz are all old tin workings.

This guy actually had two pieces of light blue topaz, didn't say from where. One had a few bubble veils but the other looked pretty clean.

With those two bits of topaz, he had three small smokey crystals and another stone that he asked me if I could facet for him, which he found at a creek on his place. Asked me how much, I told him I would do it as a gesture of thanks for him allowing me onto his property and showing me paces he suspects things might be hiding.

This stone is interesting. I weighed it last night, exactly 20 carats. It is rectangular, flat-topped and the sides taper down to the bottom centre at around 45 degrees. It appears to be completely flawless and very well shaped - basically, the perfect piece of faceting rough. The colour is interesting. I first thought it a waterworn smokey quartz crystal but the colour is a blend of very clear brown and orange and it just seems to have an unusual look that is hard to describe. It is not the same shade as any of the smokey crystals from the dig site.

I still think it will turn out to be a very clean, clear piece of citrine-tinted smokey quartz but I haven't yet discounted that it may possibly be a zircon. Zircons were recorded in many streams in the general area by gold prospectors over a century ago, though I guess they would have been regarded as worthless back then. I have regularly heard of their existence at a couple of localities not all that far from this place and I'm sure there were once some mineral ventures in the area that were mining zircon (I assume it would probably have been zircon sand rather than gem mining). He says he followed the instructions for doing a basic SG test and it returned 3.6 - lighter than zircon should be but a lot heavier than quartz. From memory, that's the same reading I kept getting when trying to do a SG test on a stone I knew was a zircon.

My father still has a bottle of bromoform. I guess it may be crude compared to a SG test (but that depends on how accurate you think you are) - but shouldn't there be a marked difference between quartz and zircon when dropped into a jar of bromoform? Yes, I know bromoform is not very nice stuff, I will take precautions.


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 11:09 pm 
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Still haven't done the bromoform test but I have decided that it is almost certainly a piece of exceptionally clear, flawless citrine-tinted smokey quartz.

No matter, it is a perfect piece of faceting rough and will facet a nice stone.

Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be back down there, trudging the creeks through the granite mountains where the piece came from and where this old tin mine is supposed to exist.

Interesting thing about the dig site I often visit there, there is the odd crystal here and there throughout the ground, but they are very much concentrated in pockets of dozens of crystals. I assume these crystal pockets were probably once vugs that have collapsed in and crumbled to coarse granite sand. Quartz crystals are obviously pretty resilient things.


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 11:06 pm 
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I arranged to meet Jamie at his place about 8 miles south of Lowmead. He and his father are caretakers on a small cattle property belonging to a guy who owns about six or eight properties in the area. Met him at the three way junction where the Lowmead road, Tableland road and the road to the nearest place big enough to be called a small city (Bundaberg) all meet, and followed him up a dirt road to his house. A nice little country cottage with mountain veiws on three sides, I should have taken a photo.

The cottage stands on the site of the orginal 19th century homestead and he has a collection of curios he has excavated - belt and saddle buckles, old bottles, pre-federation coins etc. Most interesting this was what I thought was a nutcracker but was actually an old bullet mould, along with a heap of old projectiles. Quite large, looked like about .50 cal, I think that the .50 calibre Snider rifle (British?) was a standard piece of equipment kept by settlers back then.

Had a nice little rock display case with amethyst sceptres, agates and other things. I gave him the piece of smokey I had faceted for him, he was pretty happy with it.

Image

He had a few thundereggs and some quite nice looking pieces of agate from a spot not far away so we hopped in the car and went for a drive. We came to a hillside that was just about made of small thundereggs. Most were small, biggest one I saw was about the size of a softball.

Image

Image

Problem with thundereggs is that you can't get an idea of what is inside until you actually crack it open. I believe that most of these ones will turn out to be unremarkable but that there is nonetheless some nice agate nodules there, you would just need to do a lot of looking and digging to find the good bits. We spent a very short time there picking some up from out of the creek bank and in the old diggings on the side of the hill and decided to go crystal hunting.

Back to his place, parked the car, threw on our backpacks and started walking toward a nearby mountain. He had found some large smokey crystals in the creek flowing down off the mountain and had discovered what he believes is a pegmatite in the high rockwall bank of a creek up there. As we walked the foothills, he told me of a mad mob of cattle in the area that he was always worried about. Only minutes after he had finished telling me, we spotted a cow and calf a short distance away in the long grass. When she saw us, she got that mad look and began thrashing her head side to side through the long grass - and up stood the other 30 or so beasts, all had been lying down in the long grass. I said "Jeez, this don't look real good" - and seconds later they stampeded. They came thundering straight at us, like a horde of rampaging wildebeest, crushing down everything in their path :shock:

Now I used to be pretty athletic up until a few years ago when i turned 40. But I've been out of condition since then and even puff a bit walking up a steep hill. But isn't it funny - no matter how unfit you are, if you think your life is threatened, suddenly you're capable of running so fast that you would leave Usain Bolt in the dust :) We sprinted for our lives, Jamie ahead of me (he is younger and built like a greyhound), desperately trying to make it around the fallen down end of a barbed-wire fence to try and get the intact fenceline between us and them - I think we only just made it. To our great relief, the angry mob did not come around the end but continued straight on past. A close call! There are a lot of dingoes and wild dogs (dingo-domestic dog hybrids) around that kill newborn and very young calves, perhaps that's why they were to touchy.

We sat down in a shady patch of scrub to catch our breath and have a drink and then pressed on into the foothills. We found the creek and walked for some considerable distance through prickly lantana bush and razor-edged saw grass before Jamie concluded that we had come up the wrong creek :? We backtracked and eventually found the fork in the creek we had missed but the time was getting on and it was still a fair walk from the fork and we had no desire for an overnight stay so we headed back home, constantly on the watch for killer cows.

Made it back to the cottage, kicked the boots off and sat down and had lunch. He gave me a piece of material that had been given to him by a bloke from either Lightning Ridge or Coober Pedy, can't recall which. About golf ball sized, it's apparently "honey opal". I know nothing about opal. About two-thirds of the stone looks to be a sort of dark greenish-grey potch and the other third is a translucent or transparent honey colour. One part has an irridescent blue-violet play of colour over the surface, though there is nothing like that within the stone by the look. Will put some pics of it up later.

We headed back up to the old dig site on Clarke's road and spent about 2 hours digging up mostly broken crystals, we did find a couple of nice enough ones. Got one little bit on the dop now, it's a light lavender colour. We'll see how it tunrs out.

So that was my prospecting weekend - man, my legs ache :)


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 11:27 pm 
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That sounds like a great adventure! I don't have much else to contribute, except that I picked up a bunch of faceted honey opal this year at Tucson. It is a very pleasing material.

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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 1:54 am 
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Stephen Challener wrote:
That sounds like a great adventure! I don't have much else to contribute, except that I picked up a bunch of faceted honey opal this year at Tucson. It is a very pleasing material.


It looks big enough to get quite a few faceted stones from, provided it's transparent enough I guess. I'll do everything I can to preserve the blue-violet colour play, I guess I'll cut that piece off and try cabbing it.

Pretty soft stuff - you'd polish with Cerium oxide I guess?


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 Post subject: Re: Amethyst
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 5:18 pm 
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Spur of the moment decision, heading off to look at a spot I suspect might contain something worthwhile chasing. Probably nothing more valuable that amethyst crystals but you never know. In any case, any facetable/cabbable stone is fun to find, regardless of monetary value.


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