A Taste for Topaz

By One of the Girls

Late in 2009 a friend of mine, Leanne, decided she wanted to go to Mt Surprise to fossick for topaz. Her other half wasn’t very interested in this type of outing but being the good little munchkin that he is, he decided a day trip might be worth the effort. After driving for a couple of hours to get there, he had a 10-minute look around (from inside the car) and asked Leanne whether she’d seen enough? She didn’t even get the chance to scratch some dirt.

Well, when this tale was relayed to a couple of us other women with similar fossicking obstacles, we decided we’d leave the men to do their thing and we’d do ours. The only disappointing thing was we had to wait until 2010.

Last year’s dry season finally arrived and with it came visitors from the south. Elizabeth Creek was still too high to cross safely when Leanne arrived but after a few planning sessions, the departure date arrived and we were off to Georgetown for fuel and few extra supplies. Then it was on to Mt Surprise and a short visit to Pam and Peter Blackburn’s Mt Surprise Gems. Our traveling companion; Gayle, had continued on to the camping ground while we were in Mt Surprise and had selected a position some distance from the other campers but with a fantastic water view.

After setting up camp and a quick lunch, we went for a wander around the fossicking area and Gayle immediately found a very nice piece of facetable topaz in the Nugent’s Gully area.

The following day, each of us decided we really shouldn’t have had that last drink the night before but we were still up and about before the sun and ready to hunt for topaz.

We poked around in a few places with some degree of success before moving on to O’Brian’s Creek and once again Gayle hit the jackpot with two nice pieces.

The next day Leanne and I got a bit of stone at McDonald’s Creek before lunch and later in the afternoon, Gayle picked up a beautiful piece of very pale blue stone that came in at 99 carats.

Because Gayle had some prior commitments she had to leave the next morning, which left just Leanne and I to explore the Tourmaline Gully area.

As usual I had the sieve out and was digging and putting dirt through and getting zilch when I heard this strange noise coming from Leanne. She was holding her hand in front of her and I didn’t know what to make of her behavior. For a minute I thought she might have hurt herself and she was still making this strange noise when she opened her hand. What a beauty! She’d been scratching in a crevice and this particular stone just didn’t want to budge. Well, it eventually did, all 127.5 carats of it.

After that the crevice got some serious attention. Heavier gear was brought down from the car and numerous rocks were moved out of the way. For a change the extra work paid off because Leanne managed to prise another good piece of topaz from the crevice, this time a 71.5-carat stone that was a very pale blue in colour. Saturday was our last day and because the dew was going to take a while to dry off the camper, we decided not to waste the morning and went out for a couple of hours. I finally managed to pick up a few pieces but nothing like the quality stones the other two girls had found.

By 11am we were underway and after the short drive to Mt Surprise and a great hamburger for lunch, we called home on the UHF radio and advised them we were on the road.

The trip was sensational fun and given half a chance we will be doing something similar in the very near future.  


      A)    This 127.5-carat topaz was the big one for the trip
      B)    Crossing Elizabeth Creek
      C)    Gayle’s catch including a 99-carat stone
      D)    Time out for the girls
      E)    Walking up the jump up
      F)    The view from camp      
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