Leaving an hour behind schedule (yes, mum slept in) we packed up and headed West to explore the Central QLD Gem Fields, the tiny towns of Sapphire and Ruby Vale and to try our luck at fossicking.
The experience was amazing.
Driving through the tiny mine towns, there was so much to see and take in. The living quarters of the miners dotted the country side sparsely, the small hut like buildings are called "billy boulders". The local wildlife are curious and not shy, showing themselves regularly to the tourists, and of course there are many gem shops to visit, all boasting beautiful jewelry and souvenirs made from gems mined in the local area, so many pretty things it was hard to leave them all behind. And to make for a comfortable, pleasant visit there is a wide range of restaurants, cafes and hotels all run by extremely hospitable locals with many a tale to tell.
We took two guided tours of walk-in underground mines, going down as deep as 52 feet in one (that took a bit of courage, for me anyway). We went fossicking at three different gem parks, where we were lucky enough to find about 40 sapphire chips and 2 stones that are large enough to get cut and polished !! Guess who will be getting a new pair of earrings made :) We also took the boys on a 4 wheel-drive tour of the designated areas that are open for the public to actually try their luck at mining, for this you do need a permit, but as the permit is only $10 per family for a months worth of mining, it makes for a very cheap, fun filled experience.
The boys had a wonderful time "going bush" and leaving behind their computer games and comfort to experience something new, it was a great family weekend, talking, bonding and exploring. At the end of our two day trip, we were dirty and tired, but relaxed and happy, with all of us left wanting more.......
|Ruby the cockatoo|
|Underground mine tour|