Fossicking – Mount Crawford Forest

A rich history of fossicking

Fossickers have been attracted to the Adelaide Hills area since William Chapman discovered gold near Echunga in 1852. When the gold became more elusive, prospectors moved to the newly discovered Blumberg goldfield near Birdwood in the Mount Crawford distrist.

A rich strike was made by John Watts in 1884 in the gully that is now named after him. News of this discovery leaked out and prompted a major rush in 1885.

More gold was discovered in nearby areas, inluding Sailors, Speck, Dead Horse and Blood and Thunder gullies.

Another minor rush occurred in the 1930s when a 20 ounce nugget and some smaller pieces were found close to the surface during planting near the old Kollosches’ mine.

Nowadays, the opportunity for fossicking in the area is much more limited but ForestrySA is pleased to invite recreational treasure hunters to certain parts of the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve. View the fossick site map here.

What you might find

In the past, opal, garnet and quality specimans of beryl, kyantie, tourmaline and other gems have been found within ForestrySA fossicking areas.

Durable stones like diamond and garnet, as well as gold, collect in stream gravel behind rock bars or in crevices and hollows. These gravels need to be sieved or panned to separate the gems.

Beryl and tourmaline are usually found in association with pegmatites, which are of coarse granitic composition.

Fossicking locations and conduct

Since many of the good fossicking areas are now on farmland or in protected catchments or parks, fossickers have concentrated their activities in smaller areas.

Metal detectors too have increased the number of fossickers and their impact on the soils of the forest is of concern.

Attractive rock outcrops are being chipped away, creeks are being dammed, diverted and dug over, native plants are being felled, trampled or uprooted and holes have been left unfilled.

To lessen this impact on the forest environment and for your own safety, it is important you follow the guidelines below:

  • Fossicking is permitted only in designated fossicking areas of the Mount Crawford Forest
  • Plants, animals and man-made or natural features must not be disturbed
  • Do not dam, divert or pollute streams
  • Only hand operated tools such as pans, hand sluices and metal detectors are permitted
  • All holes must be kept to a minimum size and backfilled immediately
  • Stay clear of old mineshafts
  • Children must be under direct supervision at all times
  • Observe all fire regulations

Fossicking or prospecting?

The Mining Act defines fossicking as:

“…the gathering of minerals –

(a)  as a recreation, and

(b)  without any intention to sell the mineral or utilise them for a commercial or industrial purpose.”

If you are seeking minerals or precious stones to sell, you are a prospector. The Mining Act, 1971, protects the Forest Reserves from prospecting and mining.

Please think carefully before you obtain your permit … are you a genuine fossicker?

How to obtain your permit

A fossicker does not need a Miner’s Right, but must obtain a permit from ForestrySA’s Mount Crawford Information Centre located at 745 Warren Road Mount Crawford SA 5351.

A permit fee is payable, via ForestrySA’s 24 hour self-issue permit box which can be found on site.

Simply fill out the form provided, display the top copy on the dash of your vehicle and place the second copy and correct money in the locked permit box.

A ForestrySA Ranger will check your permit while on patrol. Penalties apply for vehicles not displaying a valid permit.

Permit fees

Daily, weekly and annual fossicking permits are available from the Mount Crawford Forest Information Centre. See below for fees payable.

Fees (per person) Adult Child Family
Annual $50 $30 $100
Weekly $10 $6 $20
Daily $5 $2 N/A
Renewed month (to December 31)
January $50 $30 $100
February $50 $30 $100
March $50 $30 $100
April $50 $30 $100
May $35 $20 $70
June $35 $20 $70
July $35 $20 $70
August $35 $20 $70
September $20 $10 $35
October $20 $10 $35
November $20 $10 $35
December $20 $10 $35


The forest is closed to the public on declared Total Fire Ban days. To report a fire, call 000.

Fire is prohibited on ForestrySA land and Forest Reserves between November 1 and April 30 in any year.

Get in touch with ForestrySA

Have a question or need some more information about ForestrySA?
Visit our contact page for more information.

Contact Us