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The Mud Tank: Harts Range Northern Territory
Finding The Mud Tank Zircon Fields Zircon Info
View Mud MapLocation—travel north along the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs for 68Klm to the junction of the Plenty Highway. Turn right and travel east for 69Klm to the Gemtree Caravan Park, continue for a further 7.7Klm where a broken down windmill and tank will be seen on the right. Turn right at this intersection and follow the gravel road for 7.2Klm. Turn left and travel a further 0.8Klm, here a gate will be found. Rough ZirconProceed through the gate for a further 0.6Klm at this point you will be on the Designated Fossicking land.
The best option is out on the right hand side of the roadway; follow the bush tracks as they all lead to the major digging fields. An area slightly larger than an Australian Rules football ground will be seen easily identified by the amount of work done here.
Zircon Fossicking: The Mud Tank
Camping
CampingThe Mud Tank Zircon FieldThe Gemtree Caravan Park is a good option if you need electricity and those services usually supplied by Caravan Parks. The Gemtree combines a bush camping approach with reasonable outback caravan park amenities. The park is famous for its World Championship Paddy Melon Bowls event. Bore water is available here for washing stones.
Bush Camping on the field is allowed and you must be self sufficient to do this, take plenty of drinking water. The only amenity in the camp is "Sonny's Dunny"; a long drop toilet erected by the Central Australian Gem Club. The nearest drinking water available is either at the Harts Range Police Station (60Klm), or at Alice Springs (120Klm). Drinking water is not available from the Gemtree Caravan Park. Some general goods-milk, bread can be purchased from the Caravan Park, and fuel is also available. For all other requirements you must be self sufficient. Most people camp in the vicinity of Sonny's Dunny for obvious reasons; this also provides opportunity to meet others also camped in the area; the camping area is approximately 500 metres from the digging field.
Where to Fossick
The Mud Tank Zircon FieldThe Mud Tank Zircon field consists of two main areas. Zircon Hill and Specimen Hill, digging in either area will yield Zircon's. The Zircons here are orange, pale brown, pink to purple shades, yellow and parti-coloured. The Zircons are found best by digging down to the wash line and extracting the zircon bearing wash, a gravely material containing Apatite nodules, Mica chips and Ironstone rubble.
The Zircons are easiest obtained by using the shaker box to remove any dust, inspecting the large sieve for any large specimens then washing the remaining stone in the Willoughby.
When the stones are clean flip the sieves upside down onto a table and inspect for Zircon. These are easily seen as the sun will shine through the zircon highlighting the colours.
The wash line varies in depth throughout the field, in general on the western side it is practically on the surface, on the east around on metre from the surface. Many of the zircon found has internal cracks; however there are many good "cutters", that is, quality stones worth faceting to be found.
Vehicle Access
This area is accessible to conventional vehicles except whet it rains, then nothing moves as the tracks and roads become very slippery due to the fine dust turning to mud. If it rains while camping or fossicking in this area then it's best to allow the tracks to dry out sufficiently before moving.


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