Northern Territory Government

Fossicking in the Northern Territory

Painted Canyon Mine

Central Harts Range Map PDF (130.1 KB)


  • biotite
  • blue quartz
  • muscovite
  • perthite
  • graphic pegmatite

There are four adits on the hill face above the creek. The dump below the lowest adit, closest to the creek bed, yields abundant specimens of very coarsely-fractured, clear smoky quartz, colourless quartz and rose quartz. At the adits higher on the hill, a blue-grey quartz can be found, some of which exhibits dendrite patterns of pyrolusite, a manganese oxide.

Good specimens of feldspar can be found in large, cleaved prisms. Some of the feldspar (microcline) is perthitic.

Specimens of graphic pegmatite can also be found. Muscovite is plentiful on the dumps, while biotite is present, but less common.



Travel 63 km along the Plenty Highway, east of The Gemtree Caravan Park (or 11 km west of the Atitjere Community turnoff), until you reach a cattle grid.

Travel south-west along a fence for 1.7 km, then veer right, following the track for a total of 6 km.

Turn left on to an old track. Follow this track for a further 1.5 km; the track then forks. Follow the older (left-hand) track across the creek for 0.7 km. The right hand fork leads to Painted Canyon Mine.

Benstead Mine is located approximately 200 m to the south of the track.

Painted Canyon

From the fork mentioned above, follow the right-hand track south-west for 1.5 km; from this point follow the stream bed upstream for a further 1 km to Painted Canyon Mine.

Butcher Bird

From Painted Canyon Mine, travel a further 1 km upstream, then on foot to Butcher Bird Mine (approx 45 minutes walk).

Commence by walking south through a small gorge, turn east (left) then south into a more open area. Follow the creek south around its eastern meander, then turn into the major tributary which enters the creek from the south-east. This tributary then turns south-west (right) then east (left) into a flat, open area. The tributary passes Butcher Bird Mine at the eastern end of the flat, open area.