Download the PDF version of this document: Prospecting Guide
Prospecting typically involves the use of metal detectors, hand tools, pans or sluices in the search for gold, gemstones and other minerals.
Prospecting can be an exciting experience. Many of the world’s largest gold nuggets have been found in the Golden Triangle of central Victoria. Elsewhere, gemstone fossickers have found sapphires, zeolites and agate.
This leaflet, prepared by Parks Victoria, the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria (PMAV), Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and the Victorian Gem Clubs Association (VGCA), is designed to help you enjoy this experience while protecting the natural environment and our cultural heritage.
Do you need a permit to prospect?
Yes, it is called a Miner’s Right. A Miner’s Right is a permit for prospecting in Victoria and must be carried at all times while you are prospecting. The only exception is if you are part of an organised group prospecting under the authority of a valid Tourist Fossicking Authority.
The Mineral Resources Development Act 1990 sets out the rights and obligations of the holder of a Miner’s Right.
Important points of the Act include that you must not:
Failure to comply with the above can result in prosecution.
Where can I go prospecting?
Prospecting is permitted in most State Forests, many Reserves and private property with landholder's consent.
Prospecting is also permitted in designated areas in the following Parks:
- Beechworth Historic Park
- Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
- Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park
- Enfield State Park
- Greater Bendigo National Park
- Heathcote-Graytown National Park
- Kooyoora State Park
- Paddys Ranges State Park
- Reef Hills State Park
- St Arnaud Range National Park
- Steiglitz Historic Park
- Warrandyte State Park
Gemstone only fossicking:
- Cape Liptrap Coastal Park
- Otway National Park
- Mornington Peninsula National Park
- Warby Range State Park
Prospecting is not allowed in Reference Areas, most State or National Parks (with the exception of those listed above) and certain streams and rivers. These streams and rivers are listed on DPI’s website.
Parks Victoria and DPI will be pleased to advise you where you are permitted to prospect. Refer to the contact numbers overleaf to find out the right person to talk to in your local area.
Minimum impact prospecting
You can enjoy prospecting and help minimise any impact in the following ways:
Further to these general comments, prospectors are encouraged to observe the provisions of the PMAV Code of Conduct whether or not they are members of the Association.
The PMAV Code of Conduct
PMAV members should:
Safety while prospecting
A day in the bush prospecting can be great fun, however your personal safety should also be considered:
- Take adequate water.
- Beware of mine shafts.
- Check the weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing.
- Fire is a particularly dangerous hazard for prospectors during summer. Be careful with campfires and always check for fire bans.
- Tell someone responsible where you’re going and when you will be back.
- A basic knowledge of first aid is useful.
Earth Resource Centre
Purchase a Miner’s right online at: https://checkout.payments.com.au/dpi_minersRight/
State forests and other public land
The Minerals Business Centre can also provide advice relating to forests and other Crown land.
Parks and reserves
Parks Victoria Information Centre: 131 963*, or visit the website at www.parks.vic.gov.au
Prospectors and Miners Association
Phone: 0408 176 496 or visit: http://www.pmav.org.au/
Aboriginal cultural heritage
The Aboriginal Affairs Victoria website is at:
For further information call Heritage Victoria on:
(03) 9655 6519 or visit www.heritage.vic.gov.au
For more information on DPI or the above matters call DPI’s Customer Service Centre on 136 186* or visit www.dpi.vic.gov.au
* Ask the call centre operators for the nearest DPI or Parks Victoria offices for advice on specific locations.
ISBN 0 7306 9489 5
© State Government of Victoria, Department of Primary Industries 2004