Northern Territory Government

Fossicking in the Northern Territory

Mica Mines in the Mount Palmer Environs

Central Harts Range Map PDF (130.1 KB)

The following named mines are found in this area: Billy Hughes Mine, Oolgarinna Mine, Caruso Mine, Spotted Dog Mine and Disputed Mine. Similar minerals can be found at most of the mine sites.

Discoveries

  • muscovite
  • biotite
  • tourmaline
  • clear quartz
  • garnet
  • smoky quartz
  • rose quartz
  • rare beryl
  • rare amethyst
  • graphic pegmatite
  • pink feldspar
  • blue quartz
  • yellow-green mica.

Muscovite and biotite are common to localities in the Mount Palmer area. At the Spotted Dog Mine, the mica books show hematite staining, which gives the specimens an attractive cross-ribbed or hexagonal pattern similar to the mica at the Spotted Tiger Mine.

Both ruby and white muscovite mica are found at the Caruso Mine where some specimens have inclusion of quartz. Quartz crystal is ubiquitous. At some localities both smoky and rose quartz exist while at others, such as the Spotted Dog Mine, attractive transparent quartz crystal is found.

Below the peak of Mount Palmer, on the steep western side, clear quartz, suitable for faceting or for use in doublets and triplets, can also be found. This area is an excellent source of feldspar crystals. These have formed in a pegmatite which contains large polygonal crystals of feldspar and sometimes large beryl crystals as well. Many of the pegmatites in the Mount Palmer area exhibit graphic textures and some, such as the one at Caruso Mine, contain limonite pseudomorphs after cubic pyrite crystals. These are commonly called "devil's dice".

Beryl may also be found at the Caruso and Disputed Mines.

One of the most attractive and commonly found minerals in the area is tourmaline. It is found as radiating clusters of needle-like crystals. At the Caruso Mine some quartz contains tourmaline inclusions up to 12 cm long and 3 cm thick. An unusual white mineral has formed as radiating crystals on joint faces in the dark metamorphosed igneous rock around Billy Hughes Mine. The mineral is probably a zeolite.

The shafts are dangerous and have been closed, but the mullock heaps are extensive.

Access

Fossickers wishing to access the Mount Palmer area are advised that the track to the area passes through Spotted Tiger Bore (Pwetyalaneme) Aboriginal Land. The traditional owners do not require fossickers to apply for permits to enter Aboriginal Land. They do however request that fossickers observe the normal courtesies and check with the Atitjere Council office (next to the community store) before proceeding to the area.

Conditions of access to the Mount Palmer area may be subject to change, and fossickers are therefore advised to check with the Community Office before proceeding.

From the Community, travel west along the Plenty Highway, then along the track to the Harts Range Racecourse. Veer right at 5.4 km (near the racecourse) and follow the track to Spotted Tiger Bore. From there follow the signs to the Mount Palmer track. Again as a matter of courtesy, if the manager of the Spotted Tiger Campground is on site, let him/her know of your presence and intended activities.

From the campground, follow the track for 4 km to a point where the track forks; the left fork leads 1 km to the Rex Mine, while the right fork leads 1.5 km to the Disputed Camp, which is the limit of vehicle access. From the Disputed Camp, walk approximately 200 m up the south (left) bank of the nearby creek until pointers indicating the walking track to the Spotted Dog and Disputed Mines are located. From the Disputed Mine, it is possible to climb to Mount Palmer and smaller mines on its slopes. The very enthusiastic walker may continue by following the old Burma Road (now closed to vehicular traffic because of its dangerous condition) and from it, visit the Billy Hughes and Oolgarinna Mines on the western slopes of the main range.

Driving Tips

Tracks are recommended for four-wheel drive vehicles only.

The old Burma road has been closed to traffic by the Police.