This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

1999 Travels July 19

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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.

07-19-1999 04 quartz hill from mica mine.jpg

Quartz hill outcrop at Mt Riddock

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.

07-19-1999 02 quartz hill old station area.jpg

Quartz outcrop, with pieces of quartz around its base

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.

07-19-1999 05 mica sheet at old mica mine .jpg

John with a piece of mica at an old mica mine

It was lovely, being out in such a beautiful area, on our own, in the sunshine, just pottering about.

07-19-1999 03 corkwood tree

Corkwood tree in the old mica mines area

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.

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