The only camping allowed is in the designated caravan parks. Top of the Town and Fossicking Rest are the two main parks, current information is available at the Tourist Information Centre.
Fossicking Method: Where to Dig
For the Beginner, the most important step is to identify a preferred area to dig. In designated fossicking areas, this is easily identified. The Queensland Department of Mines and Energy has designated tracks of land where Sapphire
can be found. Many fossickers who have been there previously have dug holes in productive areas. Choose a hole not occupied by others and clean it out or extend the hole leading toward virgin ground. To know if the hole is occupied, it is common practice to leave a bucket or similar in the hole. This is a well understood unwritten rule in this area.
At the face of the hole you will notice top soil which contains vegetation; the sub-soil that supports the top soil, and then a rubbly or friable band containing iron stones, small pebbles and maybe medium sized basalt rocks. This is known as the wash and is the remnants of an ancient creek or river bed. All of the above rests on a bed of clay. It is in the wash that the sapphire's are found. Experienced fossickers will readily identify the geology of the area and investigate other potential sapphire bearing wash.
Extracting the Sapphire
Extracting the sapphire relies on the principle that sapphire has a greater specific gravity e.g. is heavier for given size than all other stones except diamonds. The most common method is to remove the dust from the wash, clean the stones using the sieves and Willoughby, this is commonly known as the wet sieve method.
Once the stones are clean, flip the sieve upside down onto a hessian bag,
or similar on a table positioned in the sunlight. Starting at the center, examine the washed stoned carefully for colour. The most likely colours will be blue, green, yellow, red and orange. Red and orange coloured stones will more than likely be zircon's. Examine the entire contents of each sieve keeping in mind that Star Sapphire's and other gemstones may also be found, such as Cassiterite pictured right.
Vehicle access is mostly by bitumen and reasonable gravel roads. Most conventional vehicles will have no problem getting to most fields in the district. Commercial operators have modified tracks to allow easy vehicle access.
Inverell is a major country town which has all services, good shopping and Hospital.