Fossicking For Opals In Australia


Before you start on a fossicking trip in Australia, you need to purchase a fossicking licence. Licences are available in Winton and Quilpie from the Tourist Information Center or at the Lightning Ridge Tourist Information Center. More recently you can purchase them online.

We also highly recommend getting the interactive maps from Nugget Hunter. They provide you with GPS locations of known Gold and Opal sites and allows people to explore fossicking areas in the virtual world. Just download the files, open them in Google earth and you can zoom around the country checking out where exactly the fossicking sites are. This is a highly recommended tool to use when fossicking whether you are starting out or an ‘expert’ fossicker.

nugget hunter fossiking map

Preparation is essential before you start a trip as the Australian outback can be harsh. First prepare your vehicle so it is in good condition and check spare tires and add extra tires if you have space. Additional water carrying tanks are essential even in the mild months. Personnel items must include, insect repellent,sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, boots, gloves and a first aid kit. Don’t forget to double check your camping gear and cooking utensils.

Yowah Opal FestivalsYowah Opal Festival

Even in the mild months fires can be a problem so clear an area around your camp fire just in case the winds blow fire onto vegetation. Fossickers can go on private land but you need owners permission. Fossicking in National Parks or conservation parks is not allowed.

fossiking in lightning ridge

The Boulder opal fields in Queensland lie within a 300 km-wide belt of deeply weathered Cretaceous sedimentary rocks known as the Winton Formation. This extends north-north-west from Hungerford on the New South Wales border, west of the townships of Cunnamulla, Quilpie, Longreach and Winton, to Kynuna, a distance of about 1000 km.

Declared fossicking areas include:


Ideal to speck for Opal fragments or Yowah nuts.

Opal Town about 100 km south of Winton

Boulder Opal can be specked in opal dumps and old workings in shallow ground.

Duck Creek about 100 km south west of Quilpie

A camping permit is required if staying overnight. These old Opal mining areas have been worked out but the best time to speck is after rains as the rain will wash dust away and make Opal colour visible. So when it rains even the locals do specking. Opal tunneling is not permitted as it is dangerous. Remember safety first and enjoy the experience of finding your own Opals!

Link to Fossicking in Queensland

Lightnng Ridge, New South Wales

There are plenty of fields to go fossicking both in town and around the fields. If you stay in town there are fossicking tours that you can go on to the Opal fields that are out of town. They are all fantastic and well worth doing, even the kids will love it.

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2 people found this article helpful



We did forget to mention Cooper Pedy as popular fossicking area for opals
Its nearly 9-hour drive to arrive in this opal town from Adelaide as 845 kilometres trip but there are lots to see and do in this opal town and also good to sleep at least one night in the underground hotels and experience how pitch black is in one these bedrooms.
Its long drive but many tourists go through the town on their way to Ayres Rock
Also there are tours to go up north about hour out town and see the milky way and with your eyes you will see billion stars.
Andamooka is also about 4 hour drive away and Mintabie is few hours also but there are areas for fossicking and best chat locals if they can recommend any areas
Also best after rains to go fossicking as easier to see opal flashes that you might miss when its dry n dusty
Have fun

5th May 2016

You missed the best opal town of all - Coober Pedy. It's in South Australia, and to get there is a longer drive than many of the others mentioned here, but it's well worth the trip!

5th May 2016

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