As a pre-teen I was hunted out of my uncles shed often. It contained the lapidary machinery and specimen rocks and minerals that had been collected on one of the numerous 'rockspeditions' by my uncle and his mates. My uncle, saw the value of leading me away from the shed and to the local blue metal quarry which was literaly in my backyard, showed me how and where to look for my own specimens. On that day not only did I find some Quartz crystals, I found Smokey quartz, rose quartz, an amethyst and a piece of fossilized wood...that was the day that my life time obsession with geology started.
The hose block took on a whole new meaning as I walked from from the pit, through the back gate into my real backyard I noticed the red and pink iron stone mixed with brown and black basalt pebbles that were so hard, the weeds wouldn't grow and the outbreak of sedimentary sand stone rich with mica, I remembered the large stones sparkled whenever it rained. Dad built the barbecue and setting around it and was surrounded by lawn growing in the rich red volcanic soils he toiled for years to spread trailer by trailer full. I found out later this was a fold, part of a rich mineral deposit mined in bygone days. Yes that was my awakening day, I noticed the water worn Quarze and Jaspers in mums garden, of which the clear crystals embedded in them I had seen every day in memory until then, but never realised just how special they really were. I asked dad what the used to mine the blue metal for, he pointed to the drivewayand I saw the crushed stone in the side of the cocrete slab he had poured twenty years prior useing the gravel from the, then operational quarry.
Realizing I could find almost any rock or mineral myself,all I had to do was some homework, as in read about the geology of the area, then go exploring. My pocket money then went to a loop (pocket magnifier), a miner's pick-hammer and an army surplus shoulder bag. The following week I purchased two books, "Rocks and Minerals of Australia" and a small hand book called "The Guide to Fossil Collecting". Whenever allowed, I was off on another dig within a five mile radius, or a 1hr push bike ride. I discovered gold and silver mines, Topaz in old local disused quarries. My children have all had a keen interest in geology and now are taking their kids into the bush giving them an interest other than the Nintendo or the peer group activities that are detrimental in most children's lives these days. Backyard geology has led to a lifetime of meeting like-minded people from the middle of the city to the outback and the forming of lifetime friendships.