Diggin’ Deep: The Golden History and Future of Thanes Creek

Thanes Creek Gold Prospecting Queensland
9 May 2023

Let’s have a chat about a legendary spot in our great Sunshine State, a place that brings fortune-seekers from all over. We’re talkin’ about Thanes Creek goldfield, nestled in Queensland, the heartland of Australia.

So, how did we get to know about this little nugget of gold? It all started in the 1860s, when the gold rush hit Queensland. Brave souls, full of hopes and dreams, flocked to Thanes Creek in search of a golden future. The original prospectors were a hardy bunch, I tell ya. They came from all walks of life, some local blokes, others from as far away as Europe and China.

gold prospector panning in a rocky creek

Thanes Creek it saw an alluvial gold discovery in 1868. The first gold reef, interestingly named ‘Just-in-Time’, was found there in 1879. The Queen and the King mines were discovered a couple of years later in 1881. Leyburn and Pikedale joined the club with their discoveries in 1872 and 1877 respectively.

But like all good things, this gold rush came to a slowdown around 1884. Many mines hit water level, and the gold ore turned into less lucrative pyrite. There was a brief resurgence in 1887 with the discovery of gold in Glenelg to the south, and some old mines were reopened. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

The Warwick story didn’t end there, though. In the 1890s, St Patricks (Talgai) and the El Dorado (Thanes Creek) were discovered, followed by Palgrove in 1897.

Before the 1900s, the Canal Creek Goldfield had produced about 20,000 ounces of gold. But when the more significant Gympie Goldfield was discovered, mining at Warwick took a backseat.

Geologically speaking, the goldfields sit on two sheets: the Warwick SH5602 1:250,000 and the Alora 9241 1:100,000. The area mainly consists of rocks from the Devonian to Carboniferous Texas Beds, with sandstones, mudstones, and a sprinkle of chert, jasper, conglomerate, and limestone.

The goldfields also lie near three major Triassic intrusions, namely the Greymare Granodiorite, Herries Adamellite, and Stanthorpe Granite. There’s more than just gold in these hills; you can also find tin, silver, arsenic, and copper, likely related to the granites.

The region’s structural geology is dominated by southeast-trending faults, with a few northeast-trending ones. Many known gold deposits are found along or near these faults.

And there you have it! A little journey into the golden history of Warwick and its environs.

“Alluvial”, for those not in the know, means the gold was found in watercourses or old river beds, rather than deep underground. It’s like panning for gold in a creek, which is exactly how many of our early miners struck it rich.

Fast forward to today, and the spirit of gold prospecting is still alive and kicking in Thanes Creek. The place is a magnet for hobbyists, tourists, and professional miners alike. The area has seen a resurgence of activity in recent years, thanks to advances in technology that allow us to detect and extract gold more efficiently. Even with all our modern gadgets, though, there’s still something magical about panning for gold, just like the old-timers did.

Fossicking Sign At Thanes Creek Gold Prospecting Area

And talk about striking gold! Just a few years back, a local bloke unearthed a nugget weighing a whopping 624 grams. Can you believe that? And just last year, another prospector found a 1.4-kilogram nugget. These finds have fired up a new generation of gold seekers, proving that there’s still plenty of gold to be found in Thanes Creek.

But hold your horses! Before you pack your bags and rush to Thanes Creek, there are a few things you need to know. Queensland has some rules and regulations in place to protect both the environment and the interests of everyone involved.

Firstly, you need a fossicking license. Don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward to get one. You can apply online, at a mining registrar’s office, or at any regional business centre. Kids under 18 don’t need a license if they’re accompanied by an adult who has one. And remember, the license doesn’t give you permission to fossick on land where this is not allowed, so always make sure you’re in the right place.

See a map of where can legally fossick for gold at Thanes Creek.

Secondly, there are some restrictions on the tools you can use. Hand tools like shovels, picks, and sieves are allowed, but no mechanical equipment. That means no excavators, bulldozers etc. The aim is to minimise disturbance to the land and protect the environment. So, always respect Mother Nature and leave the place as you found it, right?

And lastly, always respect private property. Most of the Thanes Creek area is private land, so you’ll need the landowner’s permission to fossick. There are also designated fossicking lands around Thanes Creek where you can go without needing specific permission.

So there you have it, prospectors! Thanes Creek – a place steeped in gold rush history and still sparkling with opportunity. It’s a place where you can feel a real connection with the hardy prospectors of the past, and who knows, you might just strike gold yourself. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of finding that glint of gold in the bottom of your pan, and Thanes Creek is one of the best places to experience that.

But it’s not just about the gold. It’s about the adventure, the great outdoors, and the camaraderie of fellow prospectors. You’ll meet folks from all walks of life at Thanes Creek, each with their own stories to tell.

Remember, gold prospecting isn’t just about making a quick buck. It’s about patience, perseverance, and respect for the land. So, if you’re planning a trip to Thanes Creek, make sure you’re prepared. Get your fossicking license, understand the rules, and respect the rights of landowners and the environment.

And while you’re there, take a moment to appreciate the rich history of the place. Think about the prospectors of old, who travelled from far and wide in search of their fortune. They were pioneers, adventurers, and dreamers, just like you.

So, pack your gear, put on your wide-brimmed hat, and head to Thanes Creek. Who knows? You might just find that elusive nugget of gold. But even if you don’t, you’re sure to find something even more precious – a love for the adventure, the outdoors, and the thrill of the hunt.

And that, my friends, is the real gold of Thanes Creek. Happy fossicking!

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