Master Geoff and a gem of a problem!
This blog is dedicated to my industrious husband (Master Geoff) and the lovely people we met at Sapphire. I will mention their names now in case we forget their names later on our journey! Thank you to Barry and Pat, Jim and Carol and Geoff and Kay. I know you will laugh if you read this.
Geoff has been waiting to hear feedback for his Masters. Finally at the end of Carnarvon Gorge he got word. 20 days later. He had to fix up a list of details which is what he is doing now. Hopefully that is the finish of it. He has passed but not sure what result. If only the lecturer knew the setting in which he is completing this. I will go back.
We stayed the night at Emerald which is an unremarkable place. We were thinking to move on to Longreach the next day. Unfortunately we got put next to the amenities block with some noisy young people using it as a community centre. At least we were handy to everything and we now know what ensuites in a caravan park mean. That was the only nice thing to speak of about Emerald.
We had heard some strange noises coming from one of our tyres and noticed the pressure was not what it should be. After a long drive we checked it but it seemed to be a slow leak. Thought we could make Longreach to get it sorted. This was not to be. Checking it the next day the leak was faster than we thought. On a Sunday nothing is open in these small towns so we decided to stay the extra night until we could get it fixed. We pumped the tyre up and thought we wouldn't waste the day, so, as luck would have it, we went to the gemfields of Sapphire and Rubyvale to see what that was all about. It was only a 45kms drive so not too bad. At Sapphire we noticed a tyre repairer but of course not open on Sunday. We thought maybe it would be a better place to have it repaired and checked out the caravan park/s to stay the night.
We stumbled on a gem (pardon the pun) of a caravan park in a bush setting with Australian sculptures around the place, camp fires around the place and bird life. Sapphire Caravan Park is fully booked in the winter season so we were lucky to get a spot. Bird life is amazing and of course the wallabies. The rainbow lorikeets are so tame here and come to talk and eat with you all day. Two of them even played at my feet (with my brightly coloured crocs on) like 2 playful little kittens. The facilities are clean and the kitchen well stocked.
Met some lovely people and had cocktail hour with them. We got a whole heap of useful info about where to go around Australia. We also learnt that most of these campers were mad keen 'fossickers'. Before long they were showing or telling us about the gems they have found. They are telling us the value of some of their finds and the dollar signs lit up in my mind. We are now fascinated and hoping to stay another night, fix the tyre hopefully and come home with bucket loads of gems! We ended up staying 3 nights it was soooo good.
What happens is that you go to these little gem shops and pan from buckets that you buy. We have got the word on the best places to get rich! One was at Moniques and the other is at Miners Cottage. Miners Cottage offered a cuppa and scones on certain days. They also teach you how to pan and help you find your gems from the bucket. Most people laughed when I suggested that it was easier to buy the already made up gem at the shop in the form of earrings or the like. It's called 'fossick fever' in my view. They even keep their gems or give it to their kids to make up their own settings. I have some words I've learnt so we don't look ridiculous. A 'bomb' is a big, not so clear sapphire and 'best wash' means that the gems are a better quality in the bucket. Some people even have a claim on a mine and fossick in it every day. They stay for a few weeks or months looking for the big one! The names of some of these shops are funny such as Bobby Dazzler.
Found a whole heap of sapphire shrapnel and have them in plastic bags. Nobody seems keen to buy them though?? We never got fossick fever but had a go and got a cuppa whilst panning for the gems. Anyone at home want to buy some of our sapphires?
In the meantime Geoff is still trying to finish off his thesis which is now hard to do because he is missing out on the fun at cocktail hour. He was also challenged by day with lorikeets sitting on his armchair and walking over the keyboard. They even slept by his elbow and felt right at home with him.
Hopefully they bring him some good news in a few days with a high distinction or close to that. He is now finished and can finally enjoy the rest of the journey. I am very proud of him completing this. It was hard work for him last year and this year as well.
The characters around Sapphire look like something out of a Ned Kelly movie with long beards and fat guts wearing singlets or skinny legs and beards. Everyone seems to be an expert and the talk is about the finds and where to get things cut/polished. I was told by a gem cutter that ours were too small to cut. There would be nothing left!! You can also get gems cut cheaply in Thailand but if you have anything worth dollars then the it could get swapped for a cheap gem.
The housing here is in tin sheds or old vans/caravans that people live in. Doesn't look like anyone is getting rich from it but it seems to be a hobby. It was fun having a go but we didn't get the fossick fever. Nobody sold their finds.
The last night of our stay we had homemade scones for morning tea and a huge lamb roast at night with our newfound friends. We all contributed and cooked it in the camp kitchen. I brought my oven to cook the pumpkin. The joint effort was fantastic and as my friends will know I love a good feed and especially good cooks. The meal was great and so was the company. Barry and I were sharing a birthday - I say that tongue in cheek - it made the occasion special!!
The big bonus was that Geoff and I got to keep the leftovers and the crumble dessert for the next day at Longreach. This was just in case we would forget them.Thank you Sapphire friends, loved your company and the laughs. Hopefully you will read this and respond sometime if you still remember us?? We will definitely call in and see you if we are invited?? Just offer us a feed!
Next stop Longreach for 3 nights. Still busy here sightseeing but will update later. Looking for the next feed??? Anyone offering! We have gems to barter.