The place is called Rubyvale, it rests 61km from Emerald and it's famous for it's sapphires. Odd, but then fossickers, prospectors, gem hunters, dry-blowers and anyone with a touch of 'stone sickness' tends to be slightly eccentric.
The town itself is pure outback Queensland. Piles of diggings, a maze of dirt tracks, lightly wooded scrubland and the rusting relics of old cars, mining implements and shacks and sheds. Little tourist enterprises popup all over the place and there's no mistaking that Rubyvale revolves around the unearthing of semi-precious gems from the surroundings. Old mining towns can get a bit unkempt and bedraggled as obsessed hopefuls scramble to dig up the next big thing, but Rubyvale manages to maintain a facade of order and tidiness. It's probably got something to do with the fact that, these days, more money is won from the pockets of the tourists the rocks from the earth.
Rubyvale is part of the Anakie Gemfields which consist of a handful of tiny settlements and a scattering of fossicking areas and interesting old sites. If you want to have go at finding some the yellow sapphires the region is famous for then gemfields settlements such as Rubyvale are more than ready to point you in the right direction. There's plenty of local information, maps and advice. Of course the ground around the region has been extensively picked through since the 1800's but even if you don't find your fortune the free camping grounds and bush surrounds make for an pleasant diversion.
The Kairi, Kanolu and Wadja people are the original inhabitants with white settlement beginning in the 1850's. Primarily sheep and cattle grazing land this part of the Central Highlands was helped along with the established of the rail network and of course, gem mining. Today the real money is in the coal mining that occurs closer to Emerald, which is the administrative centre for Rubyvale and the gemfields.
In August, the sister town of Anakie holds the Festival of Gems or 'Gemfest', a four day festival that attracts thousands of visitors and aids in promoting the region. The towns of Rubyvale, Anakie and Sapphire become host to swarms of fossickers, tourists and gem industry sponsors who arrive to indulge in their passion - rocks.
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