Bling Bling Baby
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.
The area boasts many galleries, gemshops, jewelers, and quite a few shops sell locally crafted produce. There’s really no better place in the world to buy quality sapphire jewelry, and this is also the best place to acquire an Australian-cut sapphire.
Gem-cutters are all around and will facet your own precious find. Local jewelers will set your finds and turn them into the most valuable family heirlooms that will be treasured for ever!
Sapphire – If a town is named Sapphire, you won’t have any trouble guessing what;s found here. The town offers a pleasant sense of adventure and fun when you fossick for your beautiful sapphire. Mining has been going on here since the end of the 19th century, and the area boast s also a beautiful moon-like landscape.
Don’t forget to check out the historic site of Piano Tuners Grave at Retreat Creek. In Sapphire’s fossicking area you are allowed to dig and camp without any restrictions, and be sure to also visit ‘Big Bessie; and ‘Graves Hill’ for great photo opportunities, and also ‘Big Spanner’, ‘The Big Ring’, and ‘Big Pick & Shovel’ are fun icons worth your attention. Sapphire was originally named ‘Sapphiretown’, and the town has become the Sapphire Gemfields’ area major service spot.
Rubyvale – This is a quaint town that offers comfortable hotel and cabin accommodation, and several caravan parks. You can visit the Australian Miners Historic Museum which features many artifacts and relics from the region’s colorful and rich history. The Hotel, the Gem Gallery, and the Cafe are all interesting Gemfields architecture, and made of ironbark logs, ‘billy boulders’, and wrought-iron that’s locally crafted.
You can take a nice stroll around town and check out some gem & jewelry shops, or get a refreshing drink at the pub or cafe. In Rubyvale you can step into a different world on a walk-in mine tour and experience the mines where underground temperatures are at a pretty cool 24-27 centigrade. You will be taken through a network of tunnels and learn all about sapphire mining. The closest fossicking area to Rubyvale is Middle Ridge, and there are numerous fossicking parks in the area.
Anakie – This town is located on the Capricorn Highway, just over 43 kilometers (26 miles) west of Emerald, at the Sapphire Gemfields ‘crossroads’. You can visit the historic Anakie Hotel that was for a large part rebuilt in the early 1970’s after a disgruntled guest had blown out the front section with explosives. The townhouses the area’s police station, the local primary school, a caravan park, and a bed and breakfast, Every year in August, Anakie is host to the area’s annual ‘Gemfest, the Festival of Gems’.
The Willow Gemfields – This town is located some 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the Capricorn Highway. The Willow turnoff is just over 23 kilometers (15 miles) west of the Sapphire/Anakie crossroads, and some 45 minutes driving from Emerald. Because hardly any machinery was ever used here, the Willows Gemfields has become a very popular fossicking location.
The area is particularly known for large yellow sapphires. A few of the most famous sapphires around were discovered on The Willows, such as a 332-carat rough yellow one that receive the name of ‘The Golden Willow’. The Willows Gemfields offers two caravan RV parks that provide limited supplies, but only during the touristic season. Check out also the nearby Glen Alva fossicking area.