The first time we visited the gemfields, we were lucky enough to be in town when the Australian megablockbuster movie "The Buddies" was being filmed - omigoodness, it was made in 1983! This pic shows the Rubyvale pub which was built for the movie, and it was still in town the last time we visited. We stayed in the local accommodation with the movie starts - ie. the Rubyvale Caravan Park! We shared the woodfire heated showers and the outdoor cooking facilities. Our first brush with fame!
Its a great movie - and captures the setting and the culture with total aplomb! David and Goliath tale of two "buddies" - Colin Friels and Harold Hopkins, taking on the machinery giants in the gemfields. Made in the mould of Priscilla Queen of the Desert! Great movie!
This is a great carnival held in the gemfields in August of every year. There is a showcase of stones and jewellery - events and activities, and a great few days in the bush.
At this time of year, miners, merchants and traders all come to town to sell, sway, barter and buy stone, either faceted or in the rough, or jewellery pieces.
There are displays of private collections, gemfield fossils and historical finds from the fields. There are art and craft markets, with stone and other goods made locally. A range of local talent provides evening entertainment, culminating in the Saturday night spectacular event with music and fireworks.
One of the memorable events is a marathon run by the locals and visitors who come in each year for the event - where competitors run from Anakie to Rubyvale, pushing a wheelbarrow with all the mining tools and a big billy boulder - they stop off at Sapphire and get an additional bucket of dirt for the remainder of the 18km run! The sheer strength and fortitude required to finish the race - as well as the balance and coordination required to not keel over all the time, leave me gobsmacked every time I see these guys - and a few intripid girls! We make em tough in the Aussie bush! This is an event which is said to imitate the pioneering miners.
Refer to the map and checkout the locations where camping and fossicking are permitted:
Big Bessie or Graves Hill near Sapphire
Reward and Middle Ridge near Rubyvale
Tomahawk Creek - a bit further out, but said to be a good place to find the elusive golden yellows
No facilities are available at any of these locations. They are strictly "roughing it" field locations. What better way to keep an eye on your temporary diggings!
You need a licence, the right tools, a bit of knowledge about what to look for - and off you go!
Pick and shovel, rake, sieve and gloves are the basic implements. But you also need a means of washing the rough for sorting. I alway take a little spraybottle as well - as the water is immediately dirty after the first wash. Then I sort through the stones with my trusty little bottle, looking for colour glinting at me!
Hire most of the equipment in the town, and head for one of the designated fossicking areas. You must follow the rules - as, rules are always there for yours and other people's safety. Holes may not be dug more than 2 metres deep - which is backbreaking enough! - and you must refill the hole before leaving, for obvious reasons. I am betting that the local miners get into the dirt after you've left and find all the stuff the dumb ole tourist missed!
This beautiful display centre and store was opened in 1988, initially to sell cut and faceted stone by the owner. Set up in one of the town's original little cottages, built in 1914, it now houses a beautiful range of locally mined stones, designed and crafted jewellery, and a display of some of the more unique gems mined in the area.
This park is in Rubyvale - and you can come and look around, pay to have a fossick, buy some rough or cut sapphire. TBC