THE SAPPHIRE GEMFIELDS – Now here, It’s all about the bling-bling, baby!
When you’ll be visiting the towns of Sapphire, Rubyvale, Anakie, and Willows Gemfields, all located in the region of the Sapphire Gemfields, Central Queensland, you are bound to be caught by some pretty serious gemstone fever…
The region of the Central Queensland Sapphire Gemfields is found just a short 45-minute drive to the west of Emerald on the Capricorn Highway, some 3 three hours due west of Rockhampton. The area is representing more than 900 square kilometers of the best gem fossicking opportunities in the world.
The Sapphire Gemfields can be explored in many ways. Gemfields. You can take one of the guided tours to explore an underground mine or you can sign up for a tag-along gem digging tour.
Another option is to set out on a self-drive fossicking tour, bring all the necessary equipment and maps by yourself and explore the region’s backtracks. You can visit one of the fossicking parks, buy a sapphire “wash” bucket, be taught how to sieve the material, and learn how to recognize a sapphire in the rough.
The area boasts numerous gem shops, jewelers, galleries, and local cottage industries, and there is no better place in the world to acquire a genuine “Australian-mined-and-cut” sapphire or some top-notch sapphire jewelry. There are many gem cutters around to facet your beautiful finds, and the local jewelers can set these treasures in order to create the most valuable family heirloom that will be treasured for long times to come.
The SAPPHIRE GEMFIELD TOWNS
When a town is named Sapphire, you don’t need much imagination to guess what is found here. Fossicking for your very own sapphires generates a sense of adventure and fun. The area’s moon-like landscape has been mined since the end of the 1800s, and this great landscape has always belonged to Sapphire’s lifeblood as the bountiful and rich treasures that the area’s earth is offering.
You really should pay a visit to the historic and impressive Piano Tuners Grave (found at Retreat Creek). You are free to dig and camp in Sapphire’s fossicking areas that include ‘Big Bessy’ and ‘Graves Hill’. The sites of ‘Big Spanner, ‘Big Pick and Shovel’, and ‘The Big Ring’ offer great photo opportunities, and all these locations are located in the Sapphire area. The town was originally named Sapphiretown and it has become the most important services hub in the Sapphire Gemfields region.
Rubyvale is a nice, quaint town that provides not only comfortable hotel or cabin accommodation but also caravan parks and holiday units. In Rubyvale, you can take a relaxing stroll around the town’s gem stores and jewelry shops, and enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the many cafes or pubs.
Check out the “Australian Miners Historic Museum” that is home to numerous artifacts and relics from the rich and colorful history of the Sapphire Gemfields. Rubyvale’s Gem Gallery, the Hotel, and the Cafe are all genuine Gemfields architectural highlights, made of so-called “billy boulders”, locally crafted wrought-iron, and ironbark logs.
You can take a walk-in mine tour that takes you to a totally different underground world where the temperature is constantly at a cool 24-27 degrees Centigrade. These tours are taking the visitors through an impressive network of tunnels that will demonstrate how the processes of underground sapphire mining worked.
You will be impressed by these tiny tunnels, referred to as “tummy tunnels” that were used by the first pioneer miners. The fossicking area situated closest to the town is “Middle Ridge” and you will also find many fossicking parks around the town.
At these fossicking parks, people of all ages can be joining the excitement and fun of finding sapphires. The digging has already been done, and visitors have the chance to purchase a bucket of wash so they can start searching for a sapphire right away. There’s friendly staff around to show how to best sieve the wash and look for sapphires.
In case you couldn’t find your own sapphire, don’t worry! Local shops and gem galleries are offering the most beautiful sapphire jewelry at very reasonable prices. The town additionally boasts a new observatory where at night visitors can observe the gorgeous galaxy of stars that the outback offers Rubyvale has a general store with fuel, a post office, and laundromat service.
The town of Anakie is located at the “crossroads” of the Sapphire Gemfields along the Capricorn Highway, some 44 kilometers (29 miles) west of the city of Emerald. You can pay a visit to the town’s historic “Anakie Hotel” that had to be partly reconstructed in 1971 when an unsatisfied customer had blown out the hotel’s front section. The town boasts a police station, a local primary school, a caravan park, a bed & breakfast facility, and the historic hotel/motel. Anakie is also the place where the famous annual ‘Gemfest’ (Festival of Gems) takes place in August.
The Willow Gemfields
Some 11 kilometers (7 miles) off the Capricorn Highway you can find The Willows Gemfields. The turnoff to the area is 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of the Sapphire/Anakie crossroads, just about some 45 minutes driving to the west from Emerald. The Willows Gemfields is among the most popular fossicking spots because at this location, hardly any machinery had ever been used.
The area is particularly known for the green sapphires and large yellow sapphires that are found here. At The Willows Gemfields, some of the most famous and collectible sapphires were discovered, such as a 332-carat rough yellow sapphire that was given the name of “Golden Willow”. The area boasts two caravan parks that offer limited supplies, but on;y during the tourist season.
Near The Willows Gemfields, you can find Glen Alva, a fossicking area where just shallow digging is required. Throughout the Sapphire Gemfields, you must have a valid permit to fossick on public sites. These permits can be obtained for a modest monthly fee from numerous license agents and small businesses throughout the area.