The Anakie township lies at the heart of the Central Queensland Gemfields, formally called the Anakie Gemfields. It's surrounded by other small towns with promising names. 'The Gemfields' consist of a 900 square kilometre region that include the settlements of Sapphire, Rubyvale and The Willows. The larger town of Emerald lies 45km to the east.
The gem fields are part of Queensland's Central Highlands region and first attracted mining interest in 1875 when sapphires were discovered at Retreat Creek. By 1887 Anakie had been gazetted as a town. Gems had been discovered throughout the area prompting Mr B. Dunstan, presumably a geologist, to report in the Queensland Mining Journal '...that the extent of the sapphire wash is second to none in the world' and '…that a constant supply of stones could be maintained.'
Mining struggled on throughout the early 1900's with many stones being sold to European gem buyers. By 1960 the Anakie gem fields had begun to attract tourists and collectors prompting the Queensland government to set aside 150 square miles of sapphire country for the sole use of prospectors and gem collectors.
As promised, the sapphires continue to emerge from the ground but these days tourism plays a bigger role than full scale mining although serious mechanised operations continue to mine.
Every August Anakie holds the Festival of Gems or 'Gemfest', a four day festival that attracts 7000 visitors and aids in promoting the region. Anakie is the gemfields civic hub, hosting the district school which was established in 1885 and accommodates around 110 children. The railway arrived in 1884 and the station still operates along with the historic Anakie Hotel/Motel, which in 1971, had it's doors unceremoniously dynamited off by a disgruntled digger.
Anakie also proudly claims ownership of one of Australia's 'Big' tourist icons - The Big Sapphire.
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