There are a number of different laws/rules and regulations regarding fossicking in Australia. When I first got started with this hobby I was shocked to learn that such laws existed, and while the chances of actually being caught are remote, it is important that you understand the laws and the potential penalties should you be caught doing the wrong thing.
The first thing that you will need to know is that the rules and regulations are governed by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, this is where you need to apply to get your license to enable you to legally go metal detecting.
According to the DNRM website – Fossickers require a current fossicking licence, which can be obtained online, from our regional and district offices and authorised agents. Licences are not required at tourist mines and similar sites that charge a fee for entry.
The following is the schedule of fees as of February 2014.
- You are able to use tools to assist with metal detecting, including electronic detectors, but no machinery is permitted.
- When digging for items you are not allowed to dig below 2m of the surface of the land, or below 0.5m in streams and rivers. Tunnels are prohibited.
- No digging is allowed on roads or reserves.
- You are able to collect pretty much anything with the exception of fossils and meteorites.
- You are allowed to sell the occasional “lucky find”, but if you are repeatedly selling items and making a living from metal detecting then you need to buy a commercial license.
- The threshold for fossicking is $100,000, anything more than that and the royalties are owned by the Crown.
- If you do not have a license and are busted detecting then you face an on the spot fine, and if you do not follow the rules of the license you will be prosecuted and have your license revoked.
Where can you fossick in QLD?
Provided you have a fossicking licence and the written permission of the landowner, you may fossick on most land throughout the state.
Fossicking is not permitted at:
- Reserves, national parks, conservation parks and high preservation areas, timber reserves, state forrests (exception being declared fossicking areas)
- waterways of wild river areas
- locations where there is a native title that exists. If there is a land usage agreement in place that permits fossicking then you are able to.
- other areas declared by regulation (these will be signposted).
So there you have it, metal detecting in Queensland is actually more highly regulated that most people first think. So make sure you don’t get into trouble. If you are unsure then contact the local council or the Department of Natural Resources and Mines at the following:
Phone: +61 7 3199 8133