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Discover gold and gems in NSW

Fossicking, Glen InnesCREDIT: Destination NSW

The Fossickers Way, in New England, offers lots of opportunities to search for gold and gems.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Discover gold
and gems in NSW

Fossicking, Glen Innes CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Fossickers Way, in New England, offers lots of opportunities to search for gold and gems.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

Explore the colourful gold rush history of New South Wales, visit remarkable outback communities, and try your hand at gold panning or fossicking for gems. You may not make your fortune, but you will have some memorable experiences.  

Head to Hill End  

Discover the heyday of the Australian gold rush in the 1870s at the Hill End Historic Site, a preserved gold-mining town about four hours’ drive northwest of Sydney. Start with a visit to the Hill End Heritage Centre, where a self-guided tour brings characters and stories to life through screen projections and interactive iPads. You can explore the remains of an 1890s miner’s cottage, and take a guided tour of Craigmoor, a lovingly preserved home built in 1875. 

 At Hill End’s Bald Hill tourist mine, join a guided tour to hear about the lives of miners during the gold rush. You can also visit nearby Valentines mine, the Cornish Quartz roasting pits, and the History Hill Museum, home to more than 10,000 goldfield artefacts, and 175 metres of underground tunnels. 

The Hill End General Store & Café is a great place to stop for a bite to eat, or pick up some groceries and head to the picnic spot at the Bill Lyle Reserve in the heart of the village. Accommodation options include holiday cottages, campgrounds, National Parks heritage buildings such as Hosies (a former haberdashery) and the Royal Hotel, built in 1872.

Follow the Fossickers Way 

Follow the Fossickers Way through New England, starting in picturesque Nundle, a 4.5-hour drive north of Sydney. Stop for lunch at the Peel Inn, a gold rush pub built in 1860, with a beautiful beer garden. Head to the Nundle visitor information centre and have a look through the Gil Bennet Collection while you’re here (it contains more than 1,300 rocks, gems and minerals). And don’t miss the Gold Mine Guesthouse, Café and Museum, where you can eat, sleep, find out all about gold rush life, and rent pans, a shovel and a pick so you can go fossicking for gold and sapphires in the Peel River. If you don’t find anything, you can buy a little bit of gold from the guesthouse instead. 

The Fossickers Way passes through nine towns, including country-music capital Tamworth, and Glen Innes, renowned for some of the richest gem and mineral fields in the country (pick up a fossicking map from the visitor information centre). The town hosts the Minerama fossicking, gem and jewellery show each March. 

There are lots of places to strike it rich (or at least have a bit of fun) along the way, including the Wooldridge Recreation and Fossicking Reserve near Uralla, where you can pan for gold and gems. There’s also the Billabong Blue Sapphire Fossicking Park near Inverell, which is known as Sapphire City (visit jewellery shops in the town while you’re here). . At the northern end of Fossickers Way, Emmaville, once a thriving gold rush town, is home to the Emmaville Mining Museum, where you’ll find a replica blacksmith’s shop and more than 4,000 minerals and gems. 

Emmaville Mining Museum CREDIT: Destination NSW

The volunteer run Emmaville Mining Museum has over 4,000 mineral specimens and covers nearly every mineral sample local and overseas.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Emmaville Mining Museum CREDIT: Destination NSW

The volunteer run Emmaville Mining Museum has over 4,000 mineral specimens and covers nearly every mineral sample local and overseas.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Red Earth Opal, White Cliffs CREDIT: Destination NSW

Take a guided tour at Red Earth Opal in White Cliffs.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Red Earth Opal, White Cliffs CREDIT: Destination NSW

Take a guided tour at Red Earth Opal in White Cliffs.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Go underground at White Cliffs 

Opals were first found in White Cliffs, an 11-hour drive northwest of Sydney or a 2.5 drive from Broken Hill in Outback NSW, in 1884. The town is known for its ‘pineapple’ opals, with a spiky shape — and even more famous for the unusual way in which many of its residents live: underground, to avoid the heat. The moon-like landscape is made up of thousands of hillocks; the remnants of earth dug up and discarded in the hunt for opals. A White Cliffs Bus Tour will give you a good overview of the town and its history.  

To have a go at fossicking, head to the White Cliffs Outback Store (and information centre) to pick up a map, and just head out onto the opal fields (making sure to avoid fossicking on someone’s claim). 

Take a mine tour with Red Earth Opal (also home to an opal gallery, bar and café), and visit the Stubbie House showroom, built from more than 6,000 beer bottles. Have a beer and rest your head at the White Cliffs Hotel, or if you want a subterranean sleep, stay at the White Cliffs Underground Motel (which also has an opal showroom) or the Fossicker’s Den.

Discover black opals at Lightning Ridge  

Home to the rare black opal, the famous outback town of Lightning Ridge is a nine-hour drive north-west of Sydney. Follow a self-guided Car Door Tour (signposted with coloured car doors) to discover the town and surrounds, including the working opal field, The Grawin. It was here the Light of the Worlds, an opal weighing almost half a kilogram, was found in 1928. Call in on the Grawin Club in the Scrub for a cold beer, a feed, and a game of golf in the dust while you’re here.  

Visit The Big Opal to take a guided or self-guided tour of a working mine, and tour the town or opal fields with Outback Opal Tours or Black Opal Tours. Call in on some of the many shops selling opals, visit the Chambers of the Black Hand to see underground sandstone carvings, and, if you can, time for your visit for the annual Opal Festival, held in July.  

You’ll have plenty of motel and camping options, but for a real taste of the outback, head to Lorne Station, a 4,000-hectare property with cabins and camping sites. And at the end of a day’s exploring and fossicking, soak in the warm waters of the Lightning Ridge Bore Baths to ease your aching muscles.  

An hour south of Lightning Ridge, the town of Walgett is a former paddle steamer port, and the start of the 950km Darling River Run outback drive. 

Artesian Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge CREDIT: Destination NSW

Relax in the naturally heated thermal pool at the Artesian Bore Baths.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Artesian Bore Baths, Lightning Ridge CREDIT: Destination NSW

Relax in the naturally heated thermal pool at the Artesian Bore Baths.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Welcome Signage, Lightning Ridge CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sign welcoming visitors to Lightning Ridge.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Welcome Signage, Lightning Ridge CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sign welcoming visitors to Lightning Ridge.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

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