One of Australia’s most well known fossicking locations is Torrington, located in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales within an easy drive from Glen Innes and Tenterfield. Torrington has a long history of mineral discoveries and prospecting, it’s mineral-rich granite being host to many Tin and Tungsten deposits and also abundant gemstones such as Topaz, Quartz crystals, Beryl (Aquamarine). In the late 1800′s, the first discoveries of Tin in the area created a boom in population and by the turn of the century, many mines where operating. During these mining processes, the early prospectors would also uncover many beautiful specimens of Quartz crystals, Beryl and other gemstones, yet having little value at the time, these gems were often discarded. The old mine dumps (mullock heaps) have been an abundant source of crystals and specimens for fossickers over recent years, and although many have been well sorted through, more old mine workings are being re-discovered by intrepid fossickers on a regular basis.
Over the years I have spent many weekends exploring the Torrington area and have collected a wide range of beautiful forms of Quartz crystals. One of the wonderful and unique things about collecting here is the incredible range of crystalization and colours that occur in the Quartz specimens. Ranging from dark black Smoky Quartz, through to a rich golden Citrine, these crystals can form as single points, double-terminated crystals, and clusters.
Quartz veins occur along the natural fault lines in the surrounding Granite, and it’s in these veins that pockets (vughs) of crystals occur. These pockets can often be detected on the surface by traces of weathered Quartz crystals, partial crystalline faces of quartz and sometimes with a bit of hard work and a little luck, the source of these crystal fragments can be found. Typically, a crystal pocket when located is filled with orange clay and can contain sometimes literally hundreds of beautifully formed Quartz crystals. Once a productive quartz vein is found, it will often have several crystal-bearing pockets occurring along the strike of the vein at fairly regular intervals.