Have had 3 nights in Sapphire. Staying at the Veterans Retreat. A nice park with lovely hosts. Thursday night we enjoyed happy hour. Drinks were $3 and a plate of hot food put on each table. Happy hour was 3-8. Very enjoyable night with lots of friendly people.
Sapphire and Rubyvale are 6km apart. Sapphire is 10km in from the Capricorn Highway. There is lots to do in the region besides fossicking, with Emerald about half and hour away and Lake Maraboon- with its great fishing within easy driving distance.
Mining started back in the 1890s and continued till the 1980s when it was scaled back due to a downturn in the sapphire market. Now the region has a mix of commercial mining, hand mining and fossicking.
Pats gems is a fossicking park, licensed cafe and restaurant. Here you can purchase a bucket of wash for $8 and go through it at the complex. Everything is supplied. On our visit here 3 years ago we had some success with fossicking, taking home some sapphires to be cut and polished. They are still waiting but we won't go into that now. This time we have opted to sit down and have lunch while watching everyone else do the work. We have also brought a bag that has a guaranteed gem hiding.
For those who haven't been to a gemstone mining area it can be a bit of and eye opener. Some parts look like a shanty town, with bush humpies still in evidence. Other spots have picturesque charm.
There are no rubies at Rubyvale but they have a better range of sapphires in any one place. We saw evidence of this while browsing in the shops just beautiful unfortunately a bit out of our price range.
The animals wander around town freely very unconcerned about we humans. Sure it would be a different story if we got too close to them.