A Review of the Club's Field Trips for 2013

March – National Gemboree - Murray Bridge, South Australia

The Gemboree for 2013 was held at the Murray Bridge showgrounds in South Australia. Attendance this year was good with over 300 campsites booked and a steady stream of day visitors for the first two days of trading. The rest of the weekend included field trips to the Millendella garnet patch and a tour along the Murray River cliffs, in search of fossils.

The Tailgating Area
Inside the main dealers hall

This national event is always held over the Easter long weekend and each state takes turn at hosting. This year was South Australia’s turn and the second time it has been held at Murray Bridge. The facilities here are excellent with a double basketball stadium for the dealer’s hall and a second smaller stadium for the competitions. There is also a very large grassed area for tailgating and camping. On show was a large variety of all things lapidary. The dealers in the main hall had everything covered with a large selection of minerals, fossils, jewellery, lapidary supplies and gem rough. Out in the tailgating area the variety was just as good, but at a lower quality and price. However, if you had a good eye, there were some fantastic to be found. The next Gemboree will be held over the Easter long weekend in 2014, in Gatton, Queensland.

May – Kalabity Station - Calico Creek Area.

Chiastolites lying all over the ground
Our field trip for May was changed from its original destination to a day out in the Olary District and specifically Kalabity Station in search of chiastolites. This outing was very well attended with over 20 members going on the trip. We travelled to Kalabity via Mingary and Boolcomatta and north-west past the homestead, towards a low ridge of hills. The chiastolites are shedding out of a grey phyllite down the western flank of the hill and are scattered among the scree. They are plentiful in number at this location and range up to 10cm in length with 5-6cm cross-sections. They also have very well defined cross forms and will cut nicely.

Cut and polished chiastolite

After we had collected enough chiastolites we had lunch then headed back to the homestead, thanked Tom and Charlotte Bartholomaeus for allowing us access, then continued on to the Dome Rock Mine on Boolcomatta Station. Here we collected a few samples of chrysocolla and checked out the recently added historical explanatory signs that are all around the old mine site. A final stop at one of the Wiperaminga quarries on the way home yielded some nice pieces of pale blue opaque beryl. These were found among the quartz scree that has shed down the hill from the original pegmatite outcrop.

July - Limestone Station - Wolseley Mine Area

Once again we ventured onto Limestone Station, about ten kilometres out the Silverton road. This time however we explored the northern boundary of the property and the Wolseley Mine. Our first stop was at the Wolseley Scheelite deposit. Here we found a lot of brown rocks that may or may not contain scheelite. On the ridge above the scheelite was a Broken Hill style lead / zinc deposit associated with quartz-gahnite horizon. We headed cross country as the road just vanished before us and went in the direction towards the Wolseley Mine. After a little bit of zig-zagging and backtracking we finally found the mine and had the chance to pick up some small but very sharp, green gahnite crystals in quartz. When we had picked up our fill we went back to the homestead and stopped at the main creek, boiled the billy, had some lunch, then headed home. A good day and another new area explored.

August - Rupee Station - Rupee Mine

The old Rupee Mine

Our trip in August was just out of town to the Rupee mine on Rupee Station. This was a Broken Hill type silver, lead and zinc mine, containing the typical sulphide ore minerals - sphalerite and galena. For the mineral collector, this mine is of interest as it has quite a varied mineral assemblage. Small gahnite crystals and glassy pieces of deep green plumbian orthoclase feldspar were easily found at the main shaft and around the shallow pits along strike to the east. The plumbian orthoclase was at times quite massive in the rock and there were several outcrops of pegmatite containing it throughout. To the southwest were some other diggings where stains of copper carbonates could be found, but there was little of collecting value.

September - McDougall's Well Station - Corona Amethyst Diggings

In September we made two attempts to get to the Corona Amethyst Diggings. On the first attempt we made it as far as Mount Gipps Station and with what looked like rain setting in we decided not to chance the road and headed back towards town. On the way back we checked out a hill with pegmatites containing tourmaline crystals and some old tin diggings near the highway.
The following Sunday, we again tried our luck and went back the McDougall's Well. This time there was no problem and we were able to get all the way there on a good graded road. When we arrived we were greeted by the Hall family who own the property. We had met up with them earlier in the year and organised to show them how to locate the amethyst veins, as they had had never really tried hunting the amethyst themselves. We all found some nice pieces to add to our collections, the best piece was found by one of the station kids - beginners luck or just that they are closer to the ground.

October - Yalcowinna

Our field trip destination for October was changed to Yalcowinna and the Copper mines around Fairy Hill. The trip in was easy as a new road had been graded to within 200 metres of the mine, where a new tank had been placed. At the Fairy Hill mine we worked a section of the open cut and found some very nice malachite and azurite samples. After this we headed over to another set of mines towards the northeast. Once upon a time there was a track over to these mines however it is not there anymore and we had to make our own. After we crossed a large creek, dodged the spikes of the bluebushes and followed a fenceline towards a gate, we came across what was in comparison, a four lane highway. We checked out the mines next to the road and then followed this road all the way back to the homestead (in future we will follow this road). We had some lunch under the shade of a couple of gum trees and then headed back to town.

November - Tikalina Station - Kyanite and Staurolite.

Digging up chunks of kyanite on Tikalina

A very good day was had on Tikalina. With two vehicles filled with passengers, we headed past the station homestead to the Kyanite areas along the Radium Hill road. Our first stop was to a quartz blow near the south-eastern corner of the property where long - up to 10 inch - blades of kyanite could be found inside the quartz. At this site, staurolite twins could be picked up shedding from the schistose rock. These were up to 60mm in length and had been altered around their edges to chlorite mica. We left this location with a good bounty, then headed towards different hill dominated by a another but larger quartz blow. This spot yielded more kyanite, however while heading over to the blow we picked up large devils dice, singles and clusters, in both cubic and pyritohedral forms. There were also tabular crystals of hematite / ilmenite shedding from the reef. This spot is worth a return visit and will be put on the calendar for next year. Our final location was back to the original kyanite workings, on the ridge west of the Radium Hill road. Here we found large chunks of coarse kyanite, but no sign of the elusive corundums this trip.