As with other sports and hobbies, there is a code of conduct you must adhere to when metal detecting. Below are the basics to follow:

Ask permission – always ask permission if you want to detect on private property

Fill in your holes – there is a right way to dig a hole so that you can fill it again easily after searching – see diagram below on how to dig a plug

Respect private property

Leave all gates as found

Do not disturb/destroy old structures

Do not detect in National Parks or Heritage Listed locations.

Check with your local Council regarding detecting in Parks. Some Councils have by-laws prohibiting this and fines apply.

You must hold a relevant permit for your State when fossicking for gold, minerals or gemstones (fees and charges subject to change). Most Australian States and Territories and New Zealand have designated public fossicking areas. See details below on fossicking permits.

Remember that when you are out with your metal detector you are an ambassador for the hobby. Don’t do anything that might give it a bad name and never miss an opportunity to explain your hobby to anyone who asks about it.


Below is a list of permit details for each Australian State and Territory and New Zealand.

  • NSW: No licence is required for recreational fossicking in NSW unless you are planning on fossicking in State forests, a permit can be obtained online and is $27.50 for 12 months and covers a family of five. To apply online click here.

For general information about fossicking in New South Wales, visit the website here

  • VIC: In VIC you must obtain a Miner’s Right permit for fossicking and prospecting.  The Miner’s Right is $20.40 for 10 years and can be purchased online here.

For more information about prospecting and fossicking in Victoria, visit the website here.

  • QLD: Fossicking Licence $47.55 for an individual for 12 months, the licence can be purchased online here.

For more information on fossicking in Queensland, visit the website here.

  • SA: No licence is required for fossicking in South Australia. 
  • WA: A Miner’s Right is required for both prospecting and fossicking in WA, you can obtain a Miner’s Right for a fee of $20.00, find out more here

For general information about prospecting and fossicking in Western Australia, visit the website here 

  • TAS: a Prospectors licence is required to fossick outside of the declared fossicking areas in Tasmania, the licence fee is $30.40.

More information about fossicking and prospecting in Tasmania, including the licence application form, visit the website here

  • ACT: The majority of Australia Capital Territory is Namadgi National Park where fossicking is not permitted.
  • NT: All information about fossicking in the Northern Territory, including fossicking request application form can be found on the NT government website here
  • NZ: Recreational gold fossicking doesn’t require permission at designated sites, you can find out more about fossicking in New Zealand here

There are a number of clubs you can join and sometimes being a member of the club allows you to fossick under the club licence.


The great thing about metal detecting is that is can be done just about anywhere! Of course, you must follow the code of conduct and don’t go onto any private property without first obtaining permission and ensure you have the correct permit if required. So where do you start? For new treasure hunters the best place to start is at home, do your homework before you go out into the field. Great places to start are:

Old goldfields and minerals exploration areas

Other old mining sites

Ghost towns

Historical town sites

Abandoned sites


Show grounds and race courses

Picnic areas


Camping and sports grounds

Swimming areas

Parks and playgrounds

Around jetties and piers