Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

For a Treasured Holiday, Pack That Bucket and Sieve

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

For a Treasured Holiday, Pack That Bucket and Sieve

Article excerpt

Byline: Kathy Sundstrom

EVERYONE has a story to tell.

aMy neighbour picked up one walking down the street of town. It was 30 carat, worth about $2000,a said the guy at the corner store.

aThe bloke here yesterday found a 29 carat star sapphire,a came from the bloke at the fossicking park.

Wherever we went in the Queensland towns of Sapphire and Rubyvale we heard someone's story of how they, or someone they knew, had found something worthwhile digging in the ground.

This is part of the attraction of these two tiny towns in the heart of the Australian Gemfields.

And it was hearing similar stories that made us decide to do the 900km trek from the Sunshine Coast in freezing July.

The January floods brought destruction across Queensland.

But in their wake they were said to have washed away the topsoil from the earth and brought the gems to the surface, making it easy pickings for those prepared to look.

Rubyvale is about 50km from Emerald. The Rubyvale caravan park was packed to capacity a and we were out-of-season.

We didn't have the foggiest idea how to search for sapphires so our first stop was the nearby gem shop.

The helpful local not only showed us what a sapphire in the rough looked like a it is hard to distinguish from road tar a he taught us how to test if it was real.

Take a torch light and shine it under the stone, if the light shines through and it has a marble-like appearance, you've got something.

He also advised us on how to wet and sieve the dirt to make it easier to find something worthwhile.

But the best way to learn about fossicking 101 is to take a trip to one of the many gem stone patches in town.

For $8, Pat's Gems will give you a bucket of dirt from a mining site, they'll teach you how to wash the dirt, sieve it and then use a toothpick to look for something of value.

We had slim pickings in our barrel. Pat herself only found about five worth keeping. But for $8 we had a fantastic learning experience and several hours of fun.

Lesson over, the next day we head off into the designated fossicking areas. You need to buy a licence from the caravan park in Sapphire. …

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