Introducing guest blogger Emma from My Rig Adventures
When you think of Australia, you probably think of rolling golden beaches, turquoise waters with the Great Barrier Reef or the Harbour Bridge in Sydney. Being such an incredibly diverse continent, there is so much more to explore than just the popular landmarks.
Hidden in Central Queensland is a little town called Sapphire, which is in The Gemfields. As the name would have it, this place is teeming with Sapphires! You’ve just got to know where to look. F
or kids who love to dig and explore, this place is the perfect place to put their work gear on and get busy fossicking for precious gemstones. Having lived in Sapphire with children for a stint on our travels, we reckon we’ve got it covered when it comes to exploring Sapphire with kids.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
Discover Sapphires at a Fossicking Park
Although Sapphires can be found all over The Gemfields, there are certain rules and ways of doing things. If you happen to find one on the ground while walking along, it’s yours for the taking (as long as you’re not on private property).
The most common way to find Sapphires is by fossicking at a Fossicking Park. There they will show you exactly what you’re looking for and also provide the dirt for you to look through. The wash (dirt) comes straight from local Sapphire Mines and they guarantee that you’ll walk away with something. Kids love to visit Fossicking Parks because they get to use all of the equipment for washing the dirt, then learn how to spot a Sapphire in amongst the dirt and gravel. It’s very exciting!
You can see our complete guide to Fossicking for Sapphires in The Gemfields
Take an Underground Mine Tour
Just 10 minutes up the road from the township of Sapphire, you will find the largest underground Sapphire Mine in Australia. The tour only goes for about 45 minutes, so it’s not super long where kids start to get bored.
You will be taken down to the bedrock layer in the earth with a Tour Guide who will share some history of the mining. The kids can also see first-hand the layer of crust where the Sapphires are found.
Visit the Markets
The local Showgrounds host the Sapphire Markets every Sunday. On a Saturday, you will find markets on in Rubyvale, only 10 minutes away. Both of these markets are filled with not only gemstones but trash-and-treasure, food, gifts and bric-a-brac that kids love to spend their pocket money on.
Grab a soft drink and burger for breakfast while you take a wander around the stalls. There is no shortage of earrings and necklaces adorned with Sapphires if you’re looking for a souvenir.
Go to a Festival
Throughout the year The Gemfields play host to a handful of different festivals. The biggest and most well-known one is Gemfest. It’s held every August and you guessed it – it’s an entire festival devoted to precious gems.
You won’t find so many genuine and well-priced pieces anywhere else in the region as you will at Gemfest. Each year a Community Festival is held, which is centred around kids and families. It’s usually held around June, but that date can change from year to year. The whole event is FREE and generally includes:
- Sausage sizzle;
- Petting zoo;
- Jumping castle;
- Laser tag (or similar);
- Information stalls (some have freebies);
- Face painting;
- Community awards.
Another great annual festival is the Gemfields Folk Festival in June. This event is all about showcasing local arts, crafts and wares. The focus is not on Sapphires at all and it’s a great opportunity to see what other talents and skills lie within Sapphire. The kids always have such a ball at the Folk Festival because they are completely free to run around and have as much fun as they like, in fact, it’s encouraged. Food, drinks and coffee are available for purchase and the festival runs from 10am until late at night. Entry is only $5 each, which includes:
- Market stalls to browse;
- Free activities to take part in (such as African Drumming, Fire Twirling and Wheel Barrow Races);
- Bonfire at night;
- Fire Twirling show under the stars.
Best Time to Visit Sapphire
It is not recommended to visit Sapphire in the warmer months as the temperatures are too hot. A typical summer’s day is around 40°C/ 104°F. The days in Winter are a much milder 25°C/ 77°F. If you find yourself digging through dirt, looking for Sapphires with the kids, a hot sweaty day will not make for a pleasant experience.
The best months to visit are between April and August where the climate is much nicer. It is also during these middle months of the year when all of the festivals around Sapphire are held (June and August).
What to Pack visiting Sapphire
The nights can be cold in Sapphire throughout the middle of the year (March to August). You will need long pants, jumpers and a jacket. If you’re outside at night, a beanie and some boots are also a great idea.
Keep in mind that the days can still be warm when you’re in the sun, so T-shirts are perfect. During the warmer months (October to February), the days are hot.
T-shirts, singlets, shorts and skirts are the best attire. Thongs or sandals are perfect footwear as it’s too hot for enclosed shoes unless you’re going on a walk.
If you’re looking to get off the main tourist trail and explore a very unique part of country Australia, Sapphire in Queensland will tick all of those boxes for you. The kids will have such a great adventure and remember their experience for years to come.
About the Blogger
Emma travels around Australia full-time with her husband and two kids, aged 9 and 11. They’d had enough of the rat race, so they sold their home and drove away from ‘normal’ life. These days they live in a caravan and stop to live in different towns for work as they go. The kids are homeschooled and learning through life and travel. We love this simple life that we’ve created and will keep living this way unless one of us feels the need for a change.
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