I am a freelance commercial and sports photographer in central Gold Coast. We enjoy Nature Play activities at the weekend…more green, less screen. And if we find organic, another box is ticked. www.goldcoastphotography.com
Published May 31st 2015
Mine craft in the outdoors
Volcanoes, dinosaurs, lava, digging, crystals, and minecraft are just some of the popular keywords if you were trying to classify the interests of the contemporary primary school child.
Put them all into an outdoor activity easily accessible from the Gold Coast or Brisbane and you have the formula for an exciting family fun day. And it ticks the box for an oral presentation day at school, which in our case comes up this week. In fact, the talk has already been prepared with the Sunday visit to Thunderbird Park completing the experience.
This is a real mine and as such mine safety rules must be obeyed. Sam, the manager, gave us a pre-site induction course including checking our shoes to make sure we had closed in toes. He supplied some interesting facts about the mine. We learned that Thunderbird Park has the world's most prolific collection of thundereggs in the world, with at least an estimated 800 years of fossicking before the mine will close.
The mine shop has a great collection of cut rocks on display to give visitors some idea of the range of sizes and shapes available.
One hour into our dig my wife and I were considering the extra cost of buying some of the shop samples rather than leave empty handed.
Fossicking for thundereggs
We had imagined that finding these rocks might take half an hour or so with only a little bit of physical effort expended. Reality was that we were digging for nearly 2 hours and we were stuffed. We paid for both kids to have a dig, one parent to supervise and one to dig. In hindsight our youngest (5) wasn't too interested in digging so maybe she could have been just an observer.
We did find some promising looking rocks in the second hour but left the mine with three full buckets of rocks but without a high degree of confidence. However that was only short lived as Sam soon assured us that we had found a number of beauties.
Next step is to get a quote for cutting open the keepers. We chose one oversized tennis-ball size for the school talk and one large golf-ball sized egg for each child. This added $23 to the entrance fee of $72.
Sam with a small egg ready for cutting
Now comes the anticipation as Sam carefully cuts open our choices with his diamond tipped saw. The photo shows my son with his big one ready for the school talk. Sam was very impressed with the blue Agate colours in the rock.
Sam cutting the larger egg
Our son has many blisters on his soft 8 year hands to prove that it was hard work but the rewards were worth it. We were particularly pleased with his determination and resilience to find a special specimen.
The smile tells all
In summary a visit to Thunder Bird to fossick for the thundereggs will set you back around $100 for a family of four. For that outlay you will have an experience that your kids may remember for the rest of their lives.