Prospecting And Fossicking
For centuries, prospecting and fossicking have been an essential part of civilization. Whether you think of the "forty-niners" hunting for gold in the Californian wild, in 1849, or the great Victorian Gold Rush of 1851, every single event had its base built in prospecting and fossicking. Not only did these events create an interest in prospecting and fossicking, as we know them today, they also changed the face of entire civilizations and countries.
Prospecting and fossicking are two relatively similar processes to search for precious metals or fossils. To locate gold deposits in a particular area, prospecting is carried out to find traces or "prospects" of mining the precious metal in that area. Between 1814 and 1893, there were 21 major gold rushes in Australia alone, leading to a massive rise in the population of the country. The Victorian Gold Rush, in itself, raised the population of the country three folds!
Rummaging for Treasures
Prospecting, which precedes the process of mining for gold, is historically a commercial process. A pan, aka Gold Pan, is used to scoop up earth and then wash away the free gold particles from the rest of the sediments in the pan. Although the process of using gold pans has been around for centuries, it is still used commonly by prospectors who have little or no financial backing.
Once prospectors find sufficient evidence of gold in the area, they begin trenching or drilling and, thereby, start "mining" for gold.
Fossicking, on the other hand, isn't just restricted to gold. A term used primarily in Australia, New Zealand and Cornwall, in England, fossicking is basically prospecting, but is also extended into stones and fossils, along with Gold and other precious metals. The term is, effectively, another way of saying "rummaging" and is becoming more of a hobby than a form of trade or commerce.
In terms of recreational hobbies, both prospecting and fossicking are quickly gaining popularity amongst people in Australia, especially children. Although in some parts, especially in states like Queensland, you may need to obtain a license before you can head out there.
The main idea behind prospecting and fossicking, as a hobby, is to spend some time outdoors looking for precious metals and more. Since the object, which is found, is not being found for a commercial purpose, the Mining Act doesn't cover them. As a result, most states allow anyone and everyone to head out there, armed with a gold pan.
If you are planning to head out to the wild outdoors in search of prospecting or fossicking opportunities, then there are certain things that you need to keep in mind.
The first and most important thing is to respect the landowner where you are setting up. Their land, and everything on it, is their property. That means, you need to make sure that you have their permission, preferably in writing, to get onto their land and go prospecting or fossicking. Also, there is a restriction on the amount of material you can remove, per day, while prospecting or fossicking.
Keeping Things Legal
There are rules regarding the tools that you can use as well. While gold pans are quite common, some hobbyists may want to take it to the next level, bringing in power tools. However, recreational prospecting and fossicking only allows you to bring in hand tools for the job, and only of the non-powered variety.
Prospecting and fossicking do not require any specially built facilities and can be done anywhere. That has allowed several tiny businesses and guided tours to come up, introducing people to the world of prospecting and fossicking. Over the course of a single day, you can spend time learning about the history of the hobby, how the earliest prospectors would trudge, on horseback, over rough terrain, driven by the prospect of finding something precious in their pans, and a lot more to help you add some fantastic memories from your day out.
At some point of time, all of us have pretended to be prospectors, out in the playground or in our backyard, rummaging through piles of dirt and hunting for unknown treasures. We may not have had much luck, when it came to precious metal, back then, but we can all remember how much fun we had getting our hands and knees dirty.
If you want to relive those days or simply want to get into a hobby that gets you out of the house, away from the crowded cities and into the lap of nature's beauty, then prospecting and fossicking is meant for you. What's more, you can even combine it with other hobbies that take to your fancy, like hiking, camping or photography.
The kind of places you end up in, when prospecting or fossicking, are quite breathtaking in the worst of times. Spending a fantastic day or even a weekend, out in the wild with your camera, tent and gold pan in hand, can be quite an exciting way to spend time. Who knows, maybe you'll find a little nugget to make that prospecting and fossicking trip more memorable!