The finest mineral specimens

The Warren Somerville Collection housed at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, Bathurst, contains some of the finest mineral specimens in the world. These outstanding examples mainly come from Broken Hill and the copper and lead-zinc mines of central New South Wales and Tasmania, but some come from overseas.

The collection includes high-quality examples of minerals and fine gem mineral crystals from all major chemical groups from all around the world, including gold and zeolites. This is indeed a world-class collection!

The collection contains specimens from over 100 Australian mine sites and many overseas localities and includes 3350 mineral specimens as well as 1370 fossils of outstanding quality.

World Mines display - Warren Somerville collection

World Mines display from the Warren Somerville Collection at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in Bathurst.

Image: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

About Warren Somerville

Warren Somerville was born in 1938 and grew up in Orange, western New South Wales. He became interested in minerals and fossils when he was about 7 years old.

Orange has many abandoned mines such as Cadia and Lucknow, which operated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, so Warren was able to collect interesting mineral specimens from the mine dumps.

Warren’s interests led to a geology degree from Macquarie University in 1975. Around this time he met Albert Chapman, who became his guide and mentor.

Albert recognised Warren’s enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge, so he taught him how to build up a world-class collection and what qualities to look for in a specimen.

Albert introduced Warren to his many contacts in Australia and overseas and, through them, he gradually built up an outstanding collection of minerals and fossils.

Warren Somerville at microscope

Warren Somerville at The Gallery of Minerals, Orange, New South Wales, about 1980. Photo by John Fields. Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum archives.

Image: John Fields © Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum archives.

Warren started to visit the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show with Albert Chapman to buy specimens and meet collectors and mineral dealers. The collection was starting to outgrow his home in Orange, so with advice from Albert, Warren decided to set up a private museum in Orange called 'The Gallery of Minerals' in 1978. This impressive display had a range of table cases and wall displays housing the magnificent specimens.

Warren obtained five degrees and lectured part-time at university for more than 20 years. He also taught full-time at TAFE NSW for more than 25 years while also managing the Toll Bar Orchard in Orange.

After 60 years of collecting specimens from all over the world, Warren decided to donate a major part of this wonderful collection to the Australian Museum in 2000 through the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme. After negotiating with the Bathurst Regional Council, the collection was set up in the former 1876 Public School building in Bathurst as the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in 2004. Warren was made an Honorary Professor of Charles Sturt University and was awarded an AM by the Australian Government.

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