"Rubyvale - Sapphire Country Queensland!" Rubyvale by thedouglas

Rubyvale Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 22 photos

Character City in the Aussie Bush!

This wonderful place is about 80kms west of Emerald - and has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. The Gemfields are made up of 4 small towns - Rubyvale, Anakie, Sapphite and The Willows.

We first visited the Central Queensland Gemfields about 16 years ago - and have been back a few times. I have never found my fortune in sapphire there - but have some wonderful memories, stories about the locals, and a few gorgeous purchases.

I have a beautiful 2+ carat golden yellow sapphire ring - this is the crowning glory of Central Queensland sapphire - a so-called "fancy" stone. Bought it off a guy who had kept it in a bit of cotton wool in a matchbox for 15 years! It was worth a few thousand $$, but got is for a bargain. Eyes nearly popped out when I saw the valuation of the ring. You KNOW you've got a good one when the locals grab your hand and rave about your sapphire!

History of the Gemfields

The first recorded find of sapphire in Central Queensland was at Retreat Creek in the 1870's - and it is said that you could "ground speck" - just walk around like an emu looking at the ground - and the glints of sapphire and zircons were all around! The red zircon was first thought to be ruby - hence Rubyvale.

In 1878 (or thereabouts - exact history not a priority at that stage), the first commercial production commenced, and an area of 80 acres was granted at Reward.

By 1903, there were two major mining areas - at Sapphire and Rubyvale - occupied by a lot of Europeans as well as Aussies.

Machinery mining and real commercialism didn't really hot up until the mid 1900's - but not allowed anymore, and sapphire has again become relatively less abundant.

There have been many fortunes made and lost in the Gemfields - and stories abound about the characters who have shaped the fields we see today.

Central Queensland Sapphire

The sapphire mined in Central Queensland is regarded as the finest in the world - and, as I said earlier, the elusive golden yellow is the most valuable. Other so-called "fancy" stones are the parti-colours (a mix of blue, yellow and green usually), orange, pink and even red. It is said that sapphire comes in all the colours of the rainbow - although many people think of them as a blue stone only.

The market for Australian sapphire was European countries, hence the number of European people flocking to the fields. For anyone who visits Thailand, take heed that the biggest buyers of Australian sapphire are Thai buyers - who can be seen in their little "stalls" in the town streets, buying from the local miners.

I recall visiting with a miner who we met up there, and, when we entered his "makeshift" home, there he was mining under his kitchen! Any bit of dirt must be dug and turned over to seek a fortune in stones.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unique piece of Australia
  • Cons:Hot and dusty in summer
  • In a nutshell:If you want a real Aussie experience - come to the gemfields of Central Queensland
  • Last visit to Rubyvale: Sep 1998
  • Intro Updated Aug 26, 2006
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Reviews (14)

Comments (13)

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Oct 19, 2009 at 3:18 AM

    Would love to come and find some gems. Great tips. Thank you.

  • mavl's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2008 at 2:57 AM

    i'm sure it looks good on you - or, rather, you make it look good when you wear it! hope all/s well!

  • Jerelis's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2008 at 5:03 AM

    Nice pictures and interesting tips. Thanx for sharing!

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Dec 6, 2007 at 6:28 AM

    oh what a fun thing to do - looking for colour

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2007 at 7:46 PM

    What a unique and interesting group of tips. Although I would probably never do this to this extreme, I certainly enjoy learning about it vicariously. Very well written and great photos.

  • lou31's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2007 at 12:16 AM

    All that dirt doesn't really appeal to me but I should get out and check these places out. Enjoyed your pages...full of info and good pics. Oh! I checked out your home page...adore your house!!!

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Jun 24, 2007 at 1:21 AM

    Great stuff - I love these corners of Australia and the characters you find there. L.

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2006 at 5:54 PM

    Haven't been to that neck of the woods - must go some time. I think I'll scratch myself from the marathon though!

  • aussiejen's Profile Photo
    Dec 1, 2006 at 2:30 AM

    I really should see a bit more of this HUGE country!!

  • bijo69's Profile Photo
    Oct 9, 2006 at 4:53 PM

    Had a fantastic time there aswell, didn't become rich though :).

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