Take a step back in time. It’s about 1983, and I have strong memories of fossicking for Thunder Eggs somewhere in mid southern Queensland. This memory has been plaguing me for some weeks, because I thought it’s somewhere the boys would love to visit. My only frustration is, I can’t remember the name of the place, or the location and unfortunately, Queensland is rather large. Inevitably, it’s Kris with all her Wikicamps wisdom to the rescue with a nonchalant, ‘Oh, we should go to Mt Hay so the boys can fossick for thunder eggs’ – ‘That’s it’ I cry! And the puzzle is over. It’s 277 km from our last camp at Carmila, which gives us ample time for shopping in Rockhampton on the way. The road to Rocky is humorously punctuated with signs at various intervals such as ‘Only 3 Hours to Rocky Kids’, or ‘Stay Alive and Play Trivia’, then… ‘What’s the highest Mountain in Queensland?’ If you don’t crash, you get to find out the answer in a few more kilometers (it’s Mt Bartle Frere doncha know – I didn’t).
We arrived at Mt Hay late in the afternoon, and of course the boys would not let me rest because they just HAD to start fossicking right away. The owner, Don, has been here since the age of six, and still has obvious enthusiasm for his thunder eggs and for gem stones in general. He even remembered the bloke called Dallas that showed me around as a boy; ‘yeah, I remember Dallas, tall, blond hair, funny bloke’. Thunder eggs formed here about 120 million years ago when gas bubbles were present in the molten rhyolite lava. The gas pockets filled with siliceous liquids containing trace impurities which slowly cooled to form thunder eggs, voilà! Don now uses a front end loader to dump dirt containing the eggs from the old volcano onto the ground near the camp site. This makes it all ‘safe’, but curiously it seems to mean that only small thunder eggs are left for the tourists. The larger commercially saleable tennis ball sized ones seem to fall out of the scoop before they get to the fossicking pad. Oh well, the boys and I had a great time, and Don cut more than our fair share of eggs.
The boys were quite happy when two school groups turned up on excursions for the afternoon. Sam and James with their previous afternoon and mornings “experience” were now deemed experts and spent the afternoon helping Don answer the never ending chorus of “Is this a thunder egg?”. Apparently they lightened his load as he rewarded them both with a treat on the house – anything they wanted from the ice cream cabinet or the drinks fridge. Doesn’t get much better than that!