Some of the most beautiful and valuable sapphires ever found on Earth have come from small settlements out in central Queensland.
Places like Anakie, Sapphire, Rubyvale, The Willows and Glen Alva not only have their place in history but still hold sapphires and no one really knows when or where the next big one is going to be uncovered. It’s a game of chance which appeals to professionals, keen amateurs and rank beginners alike! Many holidaymakers have gone home with very special and valuable mementoes of their gemfields holiday.
Those who haven’t been to a gemstone mining area before might find the scenery a bit unusual. Some parts look like a shanty town, with bush humpies still in evidence. Other spots have a picturesque charm, with billy boulder dwellings adding a quaint touch among buildings constructed along more conventional lines.
Mining started back in the 1890s and continued full steam until the 1980s when it was scaled back due to a downturn in the sapphire market. Nowadays the region has a mix of commercial mining, hand mining and fossicking. Anakie is just off the Capricorn Highway. Across the highway and 11km along the Anakie-Sapphire Road is Sapphire, and just 6km further along the road is Rubyvale. The gemfields are four hours’ drive inland from Rockhampton and about the same distance from Longreach.
There are fossicking tours available, retail outlets that showcase marvellous sapphires in gorgeous settings and parks where you can search for your own sparklers in buckets of wash, places to eat and stay.
Gemfest Festival of Gems
A fabulous mixture of gemstones, jewellery, earth treasures, entertainment and demonstrations will combine to form a brilliant event at the famous Gemfest Festival of Gems in August at Allen King Park, Anakie. Gemfest is truly amazing. The main jewellery exhibition showcases magnificent – but rarely seen – gems and jewellery including large sapphires. Local, national and international merchants display a myriad of treasures for sale and there are more than $20,000 of prizes on offer.
See the huge variety of rough and cut gems, jewellery and equipment. Participate in workshops and watch demonstrations, enjoy the live entertainment – including stage performances and a busking competition – and let the kids have fun with the children’s activities. You could spend hours browsing through the market area where outside traders have a vast variety of earth treasures as well as other goods on offer.
Phone (within Australia) 1800 676 701