Friday's fossick day at the quarry

FOR years Mortlake has proclaimed itself the “Olivine capital of Australia”.

It’s a tag that perplexes those with no idea what olivine is, while it amuses others as a rather odd claim to fame.

But olivine — the attractive volcanic mineral found at Mount Shadwell quarry — is a significant drawcard for the town. Fossickers come from across Australia to look for the “volcanic bombs” that contain the mineral.

The quarry, operated by Moyne Shire, has recently restricted public access to Fridays, due to the operational requirements of the quarry.

“We used to allow people to just turn up at any time,” said Leah Johnston, manager of engineering and design at Moyne Shire.

“Visitors have to be inducted and supervised, which is something we have accommodated because the olivine is so important to the town.”

Changes to the quarry’s equipment have now made it more disruptive for staff to provide this time.

“There was pressure to review the arrangement. We wanted people to still be able to come. Friday is the best time because it’s when we do the maintenance and there isn’t the same pressure, so that’s the day we allow visitors,” Ms Johnston said.

Access is also allowed on weekends with trained community members.

“We’re prepared to train more people for that role — we want to maintain the popularity of fossicking,” Ms Johnston said.

Nola Brewer, manager of the Mortlake caravan park, said olivine was a significant drawcard.

“We’ve been here four years and we were surprised by the amount of interest.

“We’ve had visitors from Queensland and Western Australia who have come to fossick. We get gemstone groups from places like Mount Gambier.

“We only see the ones that stay overnight or for a few days. There’s lot more who just come for the day.”

Public access to Mt Shadwell Quarry, near Mortlake, has been restricted. 130911RG05 Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Public access to Mt Shadwell Quarry, near Mortlake, has been restricted. 130911RG05 Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop