Northern Territory Government

Fossicking in the Northern Territory

Margaret Diggings

Map of Margaret Diggings PDF (179.0 KB)

On 12 December 2012 an area of approximately 18 square kilometres in the Margaret Diggings region was gazetted by the Northern Territory Government. This area has significant interest and is well known for alluvial deposits of gold.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade will now commence the process of identifying specific areas within this gazetted region for declaration as fossicking areas. This process may take some time as many factors, such as native title implications and consent from landowners, need to be considered prior to any declaration taking place.

In the meantime, you are permitted to access these areas to fossick however you must ensure that you issue the required notifications and obtain the appropriate consents before entering the area.

This may appear excessive to some however it is only an interim inconvenience until the area is declared as a fossicking area. Consent is required from the Minister (fossicking request form - reserved land) and any mineral title holders. You are also required to notify the pastoralist of your intentions (fossicking notice/fossicking request form).

For individual requirements refer to the information bulletin: fossicking - land access.

To search the general location of this area on the STRIKE, this area is known as RL31900.


Originally known as "The Margaret Rush", Margaret River Diggings and the East Margaret Diggings.

Discovered in 1880 by Mr. David Tennant, prospector, publican and store owner.

In May 1880 the Northern Territory Times and Gazette reported that there were 400 men at the 'Margaret Rush', with the best claims yielding 2 to 6 oz per day and the heaviest nugget discovered weighed 13 oz.

In September 1880 a correspondent of the Northern Territory Times and Gazette stated the Margaret was by no means a small rush, with gold starting at 9 oz and being raised to 24 lb weight, and by this time there were 1500 Chinese and 40 Europeans at the rush. It has been reported that numbers later swelled to 2000 Chinese working the area.

In 1881 the Government paid the £500 reward for the discovery of a new field to Mr. David Tennant, for the Margaret Rush.

In 1882 three Chinese miners allegedly obtained 500 pounds of gold from one bucket, however it was reported that pounds and ounces were sometimes confused! Nuggets of 25 pounds were also reported by the Chinese Merchant, Quong Wing Chong, at an average depth of 4 foot.

Reverend Tenison-Woods, in his 1886 Report of the Geology and Mineralogy of the Northern Territory, made note that great quantities of gold have been got from the Margaret, however no-one knows exactly how much.

Government Chief Geologist H.I. Jensen visited the area in 1915 and in his Geology of the Woggaman Province mentions that the Margaret had been extensively worked, however no deep sinking had occurred.

Krana Creek which is in the south west area of the proposed fossicking area was reported by Jensen as having some dozens of deep shafts, likely sunk by Europeans in the early days.