Chudleigh Park Field Trip Report
Report taken from pages six and seven of CMLC Newsletter Oct 2019. Photographs from the trip are also on page eight.
A long drive and hot weather didn’t deter our intrepid fossickers from enjoying the field trip to Chudleigh Park over the Queen’s birthday long weekend. Rob and Leigh (and family and Friends) and Peggy and Craig arrived earlier in the week with Kylie and Lance (and Children) arriving Friday arvo. Jan, Trevor, Brenda and myself got as far as the Oasis Roadhouse Friday night and travelled onto Chudleigh at sparrow’s the next morning, keeping a very careful eye out for any suicidal Roos. The Skippies out that way only come in large and extra large sizes. There is a lot of road work in progress between the Lynd and Chudleigh, at least 20 kms, which would only leave 30 kms of gravel till fully sealed.
A quick set-up of camp including tents for showers and the mandatory porta loo, had me looking around to work out who was in attendance. A couple of vehicles had proceeded up to the diggings while we were setting up, but Kylie were able to assure me, that Craig had the Amelia’s permission for our fossickers to take vehicles across the creek. Trevor was a bit disappointed as he had spent a couple of days before making a cart to take his tools up. Oh well, there’s still Lava Plains Trev. Richie and John had now joined us, so my party the first day was Trev, John, Ritchie, Kyle, Lance, Brenda and myself to head to the eastern side of the diggings. Craig and Peggy and Rob and Leigh fossicked the northern side of the ridge.
The digging for peridot at Chudleigh is pretty easy as the ground is shallow, dry and dusty. The finding is not so easy, at least until you get your eye in. The majority of the peridot here is very well camouflaged with a brown coating (of iron oxide, I think) that makes it look just like every other bit of volcanic rock. Hmm, I should probably clarify that last comment as you can find not just peridot here, but also Moonstone, Black Spinel, Hematite and Sapphire, all of which stand out in the sieve so much better than Peridot. Peridot is generally identified in the sieve by its angular shape, wetting the stone may allow you to see a bit of green if held to the sun, however using a pair of side cutters to snip an edge will reveal a glassy green sheen (peridot) or not (rock). Another tip is to half fill a wide mouthed plastic bottle with sand and water. An empty iced tea bottle works well. Drop your potential treasure into the bottle and shake. By the end of the day’s digging a lot of the camouflage will have worn off your stones and you will have a much better idea of what you may have found after a quick rinse back at camp.
I took our crew to an area where Brenda and I had been digging a few weeks before and a bucket of dirt from our re-dug hole produced a number of peridot so that everyone was able to see what they were looking for. That hole (read shallow scrape) produced a 32ct stone 3 weeks ago and another 30ct stone that afternoon along with numerous other pieces. Brenda reckons I’m tinny finding peridot because its my birthstone, she may be right, she usually is……..yes dear, the correct term is always. It was great to see young kids enjoying looking and learning about fossicking. Kylie and Lance’s daughter Emily was a gem and followed Brenda around while she was specking, discussing fossicking and camping.
As it was very dry and windy, Trevor’s home made pig became the evening gathering point but not for very long after a big day and long drive it was early to bed for most of us.
The next morning was another early start with most of us heading back to our previous days diggings, with Bronny and Doug arriving during the morning and getting a quick peridot fossicking lesson. In the afternoon, Trevor took a group to an area he referred to as the flat, where he says everybody used to dig when the ar-ea was first fossicked. Apparently you can (or used to be able to) find fully terminated spinel crystals in this area. Nobody found one this time however they were very happy with the amount/quality of the peridot, sometimes 13 to a sieve. The evening’s gathering around Trev’s pig was well attended with everyone having found some peridot.
Monday saw most of us packing up and heading for home, bidding a fond farewell to Chudleigh Park. This area really is great fossicking and camping, with arguably the best peridot available for fossicking in OZ. Please follow the station rules, ring or email before visiting have a porta loo (or similar), take all your rubbish with you, stick to and go slow on the station roads and fill in your holes to make safe for the cattle. I know, myself and the crew that attended this field trip, really appreciated the landowners allowing fossicking and camping on their station again. If we all follow the rules we will hopefully be able to enjoy this unique opportunity for many years to come.
I would like to pass on my appreciation to my fellow field trip officers, Craig , Leigh and John (who had to leave early) and to Trevor for his cheerful willingness to share his wealth of knowledge. A number of participants have expressed their appreciation of your efforts , thank you. I have already had a couple of inquiries re next field trip and have to say that we haven’t anything planned as yet, however we will be getting together soon to rough out a proposed calendar for next year’s trips and get them promulgated as soon as possible.
We hope to see you all again in a dirty hole on a fossicking field soon.
PS. Craig and Peggy were heading further afield after Chudleigh to try some gold prospecting. Looking forward to hear from them when they get back.
Allan Gale “Windy”