Lava Plains Field Trip Reports
Members on field trip.
- Allan Gale,
- Michael Hardcastle,
- Demetri Kanellos,
- Amanda Pearce,
- Stuart Howe,
- Ken Vaughan.
Both Michael’s and Allan’s reports follow
Michael Hardcastle’s Report
Demitri and I met Allan in Mareeba. We left about 12:30, Allan & I in his car towing the camper trailer and Demitri following in his van.
After the scenic drive over the lush green hills of the dairy country we passed through Mt. Garnet. The landscape changed to the drier beef cattle country and we continued on through the Forty Mile Scrub and on to the Lava Plains Sapphire Fields.
We arrived about 3:00pm . Stuart and Amanda had arrived the day before and had already set their camp and Ken’s camper-van was parked nearby. They were all down at the creek busy fossicking.
After a site inspection, Dimitri parked his van and we helped Allan erect the camper trailer and annex as quickly as possible. By late afternoon we had just finished and Ken, Amanda and Stuart returned from fossicking. We had a few drinks and a chat around the fire. Ken said, looking at the clouds, that it might rain. I said, “No it rarely rains out west.”
Anyway, just on dark, it started sprinkling. We retreated under cover , had a quick bite to eat from the tin can. Due to the drop in temperature, we went to bed early and I snuggled into my cosy warm swag and fell asleep listening to the rain falling on the tarp roof. Suddenly I was awoken by a loud bang, a huge whoosh and water splashing over me. The tarp had ponded and collapsed under the weight of many litres of water and it was just pouring with rain.
Battle stations! Allan and I both jumped up and worked together to rectify the damage, replaced a bent roof support and put in many tent pegs that had pulled out of the ground and had to be hammered back in. The rain was just bucketing down . It must have looked a funny sight. I was running around in a tee shirt and jocks . The tent sprang a leak and all of Allan’s clothes got wet. Fortunately we could see the funny side of things. We didn’t sleep as well for a while for we kept on checking the roof for ponding.
On Sunday, Dimitri, Stuart, Allan, Ken & I walked down the road to the boundary to check we were fossicking in the right area. We did a bit of specking and picked up small pieces of sapphire. Then Stuart and Amanda left for Cairns.
On Monday we started to fossick at the creek . Due to the rain, it was good specking conditions and some locals from Ravenshoe came out to try their luck. They walked out of the bush about 20 metres in front of us and picked up a nice sized blue sapphire.
It was very muddy and we were walking around with 3inches of mud stuck to our boots. It was like trudging around in lead boots but that’s all part of fossicking and was good fun.
The next four days we spent exploring and fossicking, We tried to sieve soil but it was too muddy
Allan Gale’s Report
Michael, Dimitrios and I met Stuart, Amanda and Ken at the layby entrance to the “Mines Hill” fossicking area on Lava Plains Station. Camp was set up and a pleasant evening ensued till the rain set in.
Allan And Michael’s camp suffered a minor mishap during the night with a bent spacer rod and pulled pegs due to pooling rain water. Stu said he saw Michael & I conducting running repairs in the rain but wasn’t going to get out of his nice warm, dry bed to help us. Thanks Stu. Truthfully though, neither Michael nor I are likely to win any wet T-shirt competitions. We probably looked like a couple of wet baboons.
Given that we had approximately 40ml of rain over-night (estimated from the depth of the water in a fossicking bucket next morning), it was decided that specking was the best plan for our Sunday. Amanda stayed in camp and the rest of the party set off after breakfast, use of the amenities (long drop dunny dug by our resident construction engineer, Michael) and the ablutions block (shower).
The group proceeded down the track from the gate, “eyes down and looking” as the track started down the ridge. All found pieces of colour …though nothing special… before we reached the sign advising of the end of the fossicking area. “Peter” our local mining warden had advised that the limit of the fossicking has been marked by paint on trees and we were able to follow the marked trees east down to the gully. The group proceeded to spec back up the gully.
Most of us were considerably taller by this point due to the glutinous nature of the ground. The mud stuck to our boots even worse in the gully and we were forced to stop to clear off the mud while we were working.
Stu left us about lunch time and he and Amanda headed for home. The next few days were spent fossicking and exploring without incident