Australia is one of those places you never have to leave. It is full of everything you could possibly need: beaches, ski mountains, big international cities, rainforests, and deserts. It’s also a well-traveled country, which means there is a lot of information available. When I was researching our travels I was overwhelmed by the number of forums, blogs and tourism websites that told me all that I could see and do and how to get there to do it.
I generally try not to over-plan or research too much when I set off on a trip because I don’t want to have a set itinerary in mind. I want to have room for last-minute changes or impromptu excursions and I want to be surprised by what I see. The problem with this method, I found, is that I missed out on some key information that would have been helpful on our journey.
If you’re going to travel through the outback, you need a 4WD. We only rented a 2WD campervan, and due to the high insurance excess, we were not willing to take the chance of taking it “off-road”. Because of this, there were loads of little waterfalls, swimming areas and aboriginal art sites that we missed out on. When we come back, we’re coming back with a Toyota Landcruiser.
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.
Great Keppel Island is located just north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The stunningly beautiful island boasts 28 kilometers of the most beautiful bays and beaches. The island offers you 17 astonishing white sandy beaches where you can enjoy the best sub-tropical climate on earth. The island has very mild winters and is located far enough south to not be influenced by the tropical monsoon, and enough north to enjoy the sun.
Great Keppel Island measures nearly 1500 hectares and it truly is a sanctuary to an extensive world of native fauna that includes over one hundred species of birds such as rainbow lorikeets and kookaburras, and a wide variety of seabirds. In 1770, Captain Cook was actually the first European to visit the island, and he named the 14 islands after Royal Navy Admiral Keppel. Great Keppel Island is the largest of the islands followed by North Keppel Island.
Gemfest, Central Queensland’s annual 4-day Festival of Gems is a great exhibition that provides a one-of-a-kind jewelry and gemstone experience. Here you can find the finest offerings from the best-respected gemstone traders from all across the planet and there is lots of quality entertainment and the best food. At the Festival of Gems, you can discover some of the finest and unique Australian Sapphires around, and the festival takes place every August in Anakie, Queensland, at the town’s Allan King Memorial Park. Gemfest is one of the world’s most impressive, and Australia’s best-known showcase for gemstones from both the country itself and from internationally renown artists.
Every year, tens of thousands of visitors from all parts of the world gather in Anakie to enjoy and share the excitement of the Gemfields and to marvel at the numerous gems that are on display. Many Gemfest visitors are staying for the entire Australian winter season and a lot of them are loyal and regular visitors to Central Queensland. The Gemfest festival has enjoyed a high profile for many years and is recognized by experts as among Australia’s finest Gem Shows. The organization behind Gemfest – Festival of Gems has set up a nonprofit agency that’s dedicated to promoting Central Queensland’s Sapphire Fields and stimulating the tourist industry in the region.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are the two best ways of opening up the underwater world and really exploring the tremendously interesting environment that’s waiting under the surface. The chance to meet fish, rays, and even sharks and dolphins in their own comfort zone is very exciting and it can be fantastic fun too. However, not all dive sites are suitable for those who are just starting out. Here are three of the best holiday destinations for those who want to try diving or snorkeling for the first time:
1) The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. This is not just the biggest tropical reef in the world, but the biggest structure made by living organisms. The Barrier Reef is so huge that it’s visible from space and it’s even more spectacular close up. It’s home to countless different species of fish from tiny, garish clowns to massive groupers, as well as a full complement of rays, smaller sharks, sea turtles, giant clams, and of course corals.
When visiting towns like Sapphire, Rubyvale, Willows Gemfields, or Anakie, you’ll surely be under the spell of some pretty serious gemstone fever. Just come and check out this impressive region, the Central Queensland Sapphire Gemfields.
The area is found on the Capricorn Highway, some 3 hours west of Rockhampton, and some 45 minutes west of Emerald, in Australia’s Central Highlands Region, Queensland.
The Sapphire Gemfields region covers more than 900 square kilometers (348 square miles) that offers you plenty of opportunities to discover your own gemstones in abandoned mines.
You have many different options if you want to explore the Sapphire Gemfields. There are many guided tours that offer walk-in tours of underground mines, or you can join a digging tour. Another option is booking a self-drive ‘fossicking’ tour where you will receive all necessary equipment and maps to explore the area’s backtracks.
You also can visit one of the ‘fossicking’ parks or purchase a bucket of ‘sapphire wash’, You will learn to sieve the ‘wash’, and how to recognize a sapphire in the rough.