MONDAY 19 JULY GEMTREE
After an early lunch, we drove off to explore the old mica mining area, on Mt Riddock Station.
Mica was mined in the Harts Ranges from the 1880’s to 1960; this area was the main source of mica in Australia. As a heat resistant material, it was used for a variety of applications, such as “windows” in the doors of fuel burning stoves of the times. Mica is found in flaky sheets.
We turned off on the track to the garnet fossicking areas, but kept going south for about 10kms from the highway. The whole area is very scenic, with ranges all round, and the broad valley of Ongeva Creek cutting through. The tracks are rather slow driving. There is a maze of them and we drove slowly around, seeing what was along some of them.
We came across a prominent quartz outcrop on a hill. There was lots of clear and smoky quartz pieces lying about here, and we gathered some of this.
The first mica mine, nearby, was supposed to have aquamarine crystals occurring, according to our fossicking literature, and we had a look around, but did not really know what it looked like.
Moved on to a second mica mine – not far – and in scrounging around, John found some garnets in a creek bed, so we sieved for an hour or so there. I was not sure if what we found there included any cutting stones, though.
It was lovely, being out in such a beautiful area, on our own, in the sunshine, just pottering about.
Got back to Gemtree at 5.45pm, a bit stiff after all the clambering about, and digging. We drove 120kms today.
Tea was tinned soup and chow mein with rice.