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Blackfellows' Bones Mine, Mt Riddock Station, Harts Range (Harts Ranges; Hartz Range; Hartz Ranges), Central Desert Region, Northern Territory, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 23° 4' 14'' South , 134° 33' 7'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -23.0706820671, 134.55205224

Travel south along the Cattlewater Pass Road which leaves the Plenty Highway just after the Ongeva Creek. After about 10 kilometres, the track diverges south-east (continuing straight crosses the creek and reaches a station dam). The Cattlewater Pass track quickly enters a short valley between mountains. Several small mica mines are on the southern and western slopes of the hill to the right. Mica waste heaps, short tunnels, pits, a ruined hut, and shafts are said to be found.

The origin of the name is uncertain, but probably relates to aboriginal bones found in the area. Some writers link the site to the Barrow Creek massacres, but no supporting evidence has been found so far, this was the site of the killings.

Mica was historically used for small window panes, but by the first half of the 20th Century was being used as insulators, in radio valves, spark plugs, wireless condensers, and in a product called micanite used as piping for railway electric wiring. As such lower quality mica was able to be marketed, which led to sporadic mining until the Disputed Mine closed in 1960. The rise of plastic put an end to mica mining in the Harts Range. Miners of Italian heritage were heavily involved with the field.

Like much of the mica mines in the area, historical information is limited. Leonard Duval Seilin (incorrectly spelt as Sullen in the newspaper reports)is noted as selling a 6 x 6 foot mica sheet for 500 pounds. This was claimed as before World War One, although it is noted he took up a lease next to the Blackfellow's Bones lease in 1929. The mine was active in the late 1940's, with 2000 pounds worth of mica extracted across a 7 month period reported in 1950 by Attilio Crespan. He was also at the time the president of the Harts Range and District Mica Miners Association.

In 1940, Sergeant Koop was conducting an un-necessary search of Italian miner camps at Harts Range for arms and ammunitions, and apparently preparation for internment of the miners during the war years. In the tent of Guiseppe Passetti he found 'Trotsky's World Survey', and in Angelo Sinieonetti's tent, both at Blackfellow's Bones Mine, a copy of 'The Parsons'. Both were banned literature at the time, and both miners stated it had been given to them by local constable Frank Sheridan. The constable told Koops he was a fan of the communist party, and somewhat conflicting also of Hitler, and was looking forward to him taking over the country. The constable was charged with subversion, but with no solid evidence was acquitted.

The dumps (at least in the mid 1980's according to the N.T. Dept. of Mines and Energy) contain books of muscovite and biotite, and beryl crystals. Schorl crystals are found higher up, and west of a steep creek. Other diggings in the area contain biotite, pink translucent feldspar, and graphic pegmatite. The pegmatite may contain aggregates of quartz and tourmaline in perthitic moonstone.

Mineral List

6 valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

Entries shown in red are rocks recorded for this region.

Note: this is a very new system on mindat.org and data is currently VERY limited. Please bear with us while we work towards adding this information!

The above list contains all mineral locality references listed on mindat.org. This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in mindat.org without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


Advocate newspaper (Burnie) (1943) Australia's Mica Industry Transformed, 27/04/1943.

Centralian Advocate newspaper (Alice Springs) (1950) Water Needs at Mica Field, 08/12/1950.

Daily Mercury newspaper (Mackay) Constable Charged with Subversion, 05/08/1940.

The Sun newspaper (Sydney) (1940) Policeman Faces Red Book Plaint, 28/07/1940.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (1929) Territory of Central Australia, 30/05/1929.

Archilla, J.F.R., Jiménez, N., Sánchez-Morcillo, V.J., Garcia-Raffi, L.M. (eds.) (2015) Quodons in Mica Nonlinear Localized Travelling Excitations in Crystals.

Thompson, D. (ed) (1986) A Guide to Fossicking in the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Geological Survey, Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy, 2nd ed., 73p.

Sloggett, T. (1979) Preliminary Report for Hillrise Properties Pty. Ltd. on Uranium Deposition, the occurrence of red corundum (ruby) and potential industrial minerals in The Harts Range, Illogwa Creek area, Northern Territory, CR1979-0012.

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