A Gem of a Place
Home to Gemfest, the Sapphire Gemfields covers almost 900 square kilometres of one of the world’s most significant sapphire-bearing grounds and takes in the delightful townships of Anakie, Sapphire, Rubyvale and The Willows.
Located in Central Queensland, the Gemfields are only four hours west of Rockhampton on the Capricorn Highway. People from all over the world descend on the Gemfields each year to experience fossicking firsthand and try their luck in finding the ultimate gem discovery.
If it’s treasure that you’re seeking or the opportunity to experience a real-life fossicking town, the Sapphire Gemfields has it all with its array of gemshops, galleries, jewellers, underground mines and digging areas.
There are many ways to explore the Sapphire Gemfields. Why not take a guided tour of a walk-in underground mine or take a four-wheel-drive scenic or digging tour. There are also self-drive fossicking tours with all the necessary equipment. Fossicking parks are also great fun, where miners supply sapphire ‘wash’ for a fee and teach you to recognise and find sapphires. It’s enjoyable and educational, and you can even take bags of sapphire wash home to extend your holiday.
Gemshops, galleries, jewellers and locally-created cottage industries are abundant in the area; there’s no better place to purchase an Australian-mined and cut sapphire or quality jewellery. Gem-cutters are also available to facet your very own find and jewellers to set them into a valuable family heirloom to be treasured forever.
The area is also rich in history, character and charm, and driving around it’s easy to imagine how commercial mining drove the town from the late 1890s. Once a burgeoning market right up until the early 1980s, a downturn in Australian sapphires brought about an active tourist industry in the area. Indeed, some of the world’s most famous sapphires have been found in The Willows Gemfields.
Today, along with the underground sapphire mines, hand-mining and fossicking tourist parks, the area also has a number of interesting buildings and attractions which have readily become popular with tourists. Rubyvale and Sapphire feature many billy boulder and bush timber dwellings (just like the original pioneers), as well as a roman castle, a bottle house, bush humpies and shacks.
Today, the lifestyle of the Sapphire Gemfields is very laid back and peaceful, where visitors are always made to feel welcome.