Fossicking and prospecting


Prospecting typically involves the use of metal detectors, hand tools, pans or sluices in the search for gold, gemstones and other minerals.

Prospecting can be an exciting experience. Many of the world’s largest gold nuggets have been found in the Golden Triangle of central Victoria. Elsewhere, gemstone fossickers have found sapphires, zeolites and agate.

This information, prepared by Parks Victoria, the Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria (PMAV), former Department of Primary Industries (DPI), former Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and the Victorian Gem Clubs Association (VGCA), is designed to help you enjoy this experience while protecting the natural environment and our cultural heritage.

Do you need a permit to prospect?

Yes, it is called a Miner’s Right. A Miner’s Right is a permit for prospecting in Victoria and must be carried at all times while you are prospecting. The only exception is if you are part of an organised group prospecting under the authority of a valid Tourist Fossicking Authority.

The Mineral Resources Development Act 1990 sets out the rights and obligations of the holder of a Miner’s Right.

Important points of the Act include that you must not:

In addition:

Failure to comply with the above can result in prosecution.

Where can I go prospecting?

Prospecting is permitted in most State Forests, many Reserves and private property with landholder's consent.

Prospecting is also permitted in designated areas in the following parks:

Prospecting Areas Maps:

Gemstone only fossicking:

Prospecting is not allowed in Reference Areas, most State or National Parks (with the exception of those listed above) and certain streams and rivers.

Minimum impact prospecting

You can enjoy prospecting and help minimise any impact in the following ways:

Further to these general comments, prospectors are encouraged to observe the provisions of the PMAV Code of Conduct whether or not they are members of the Association.


PMAV members should:

Safety while prospecting

A day in the bush prospecting can be great fun, however, your personal safety should also be considered:

Further information

Earth Resources website

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources's Earth Resources website has information about prospecting and Miner's Rights.

Purchase a Miner’s Right online at

DEDJTR's Earth Resources Information Centre

Address: Ground Floor, 113 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:30pm

Prospectors and Miners Association

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or visit

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