The Gemfields is an area just west of Emerald in central Queensland, famous the world over for it’s sapphires, it takes in the towns of Anakie, Sapphire, Rubyvale and The Willows. There is plenty to see and do in the area, camping and fossicking and tourist parks where your can buy a bucket of wash and maybe find a sapphire or two, and there is the Gemfest held every August at Anakie.
We got hooked on the Gemfields in 2000 after a fossicking trip to Glenalva, a fossicking area about 20 kilometres west of Anakie. After a couple of years of scratching around in the fossicking areas we decided to get serious about our new hobby so we bought a second hand faceting machine, a ‘gem master’. This was great because now we could find our sapphires and bring them to life by cutting them ourselves. It truly is the icing on the cake to turn your find into a sparkling gem. Still this wasn’t enough, so we decided to peg our own claim. We picked Rubyvale as the spot, and as we wanted to start from scratch we pegged a 30 x 30 metre claim, (which is as big as you are allowed to peg) as opposed to buying a working claim. By the next season the mine was ours. This was to be our winter
retreat and still is. It didn’t take us long to put up a shack that fitted right in to the atmosphere of the Gemfields, temporary structures are all that are allowed on small mining claims, so they are easily removed when the claim is handed in when the mining is finished. So then we started digging. The first shaft we sank at 12 feet deep was a dud, there was no wash and you need wash to find sapphire ( wash is a layer of gravel where sapphires are found usually an old river bed) so we converted it into a longdrop (dunny) that will last for years to come. The next hole we sank was a winner with some nice sapphires found. Still not satisfied we pegged another claim beside the first. Check out our page on fossicking for sapphires and may be you would like to have a go yourself.