Mineral collections go online on eHive

Thursday, 11 June 2020

For people interested in fossils, minerals and rocks, two local geological collections are now available on the online platform eHive.

It allows the first chance to look at the Chris Bowman Collection, comprising 96 fossil and crystalline material specimens, which will have a permanent home at the Tamworth Regional Astronomy and Science Centre which is now under construction. The collection was donated to Tamworth Regional Council through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gift Program.

The Gil Bennet Collection, already a feature at the Nundle Visitor Information Outlet, is known for its spheres, petrified wood, gypsum, calcite, quartz, agate, jasper and aragonite. The move online means is can still be accessed during the centre’s closure due to COVID-19 health measures.

“Our area is rich in minerals and gems, rocks and precious stones,” Tamworth Regional Council’s Cultural Collections Officer, Naomi Blakey, said.

“These collections are important and relevant to the area. The New England North West region is the second most prolific region for minerals in NSW highlighted by The Fossickers Way tourist route that runs through Nundle, Tamworth, Manilla, Barraba, Bingara, Warialda, Inverell, Emmaville and Glen Innes.

“EHive is a great platform where you can search between collections, or, if there’s a particular mineral you’re interested you can search eHive and it will link you to other collections,” Ms Blakey said.

“That search capability and similar themes is why we’re releasing the Chris Bowman and Gil Bennet collections together,” she said.

For retired farmer, Chris Bowman, collecting fossils and crystallised material has been a lifelong activity starting with curiosity of “snake skin fossils” in the shale of the family cattle property between Upper Manilla and Barraba.

“I thought the criss-crossed patterns in the shale were snake skin fossils until my parents gave me a reference book and I found they weren’t snake skin fossils, it was a clubmoss tree 370 million years old,” Mr Bowman said.

His fascination broadened to crystallised minerals when he came across a pile of not-so-ordinary-rocks while moving cattle as an eight- or nine-year-old.

Fast forward to today, and Chris has established his collection with help from leaders in the field Albert Chapman and George Stacey.

“I donated the Collection because when I started out there was never any reference material in the regions. You always had to go to the Australian Museum in Sydney to find good reference material,” Mr Bowman said.

“That used to annoy the hell out of me! 

“I would think, why do kids interested in this kind of thing have to go to Sydney or Brisbane? So I said one day I’m going to get a collection and it’s going to stay here so people can see it,” he said.

You can find both the Chris Bowman Collection and the Gil Bennet Collection online on eHive now.

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