Avoid the prospect of a penalty when fossicking this summer

Authorities are reminding Victorian recreational prospectors to do the right thing, keep safe and safeguard the environment.

Thursday, 9 February 2023 at 3:29 am
Recreational prospectors are being reminded to meet their responsibilities.
Recreational prospectors are being reminded to meet their responsibilities.

With tens of thousands of Victorians authorised to search for gold on public land, authorities are reminding recreational prospectors to do the right thing, keep safe and safeguard the environment.

There are almost 73,000 active miner’s rights in Victoria and the rush to get involved shows no sign of slowing with more than 8,000 purchased in during 2021. While they’re out prospecting for gold, Earth Resources Regulation Inspectors and Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers are checking that fossickers are licenced, panning in permitted areas and meeting their responsibilities to reduce any impact on the environment.

Due to recent heavy rain and flooding, some areas across the state remain closed or inaccessible, so it is more important than ever for prospectors to plan ahead.

  • Know the access rules and consent requirements of the preferred location.
  • Check local weather conditions, state forest, park and road closures at MapshareVic.
  • Always share travel and itinerary information with someone.

Fossicking and recreational prospecting is permitted in state forests and in designated areas of some national, state, historic and heritage parks.

Prospectors must also follow all other public land rules while out fossicking, including driving only on tracks or roads open to the public, taking all rubbish home, and immediately restoring the area to how it was found by backfilling any holes and replacing leaf litter.

The use of mechanical equipment or explosives is not permitted, vegetation and Aboriginal objects must not be removed or damaged.

In Victoria, hobby gold hunters must possess a miner's right, which allows them to keep any gold they find. Anyone caught panning or fossicking without a miner’s right permit can face penalties up to $36,984 under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990.

A miner’s right can be purchased for $26 from Services Victoria. Earth Resources Regulation has produced a Guide to Recreational Prospecting in Victoria and a helpful video. Both can be accessed on their Recreational prospecting page.

Recreational prospecting has a long and rewarding history in Victoria, it’s important modern gold hunters are aware of the rules and how to remain safe. If you don’t know, don’t go – with some areas still closed due to flooding this year, always check ahead to make sure you can get to your favourite gold panning spot.

Chris Webb
Earth Resources Regulation Executive Director

It’s great to see so many Victorians making the best of the summer weather and visiting public land, but we want to make sure recreational prospectors are doing the right thing to protect the environment and vulnerable ecosystems.

Kate Gavens
Chief Conservation Regulator

Conservation Regulator Victoria