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  • Writer's pictureTrekking Downunder

Outback QLD Gemfields

In this article, Emma from My Rig Adventures has taken the guesswork out of travelling to Outback Qld's Gemfields. We spent some time travelling through these towns and they were definitely a highlight of our travels around Australia. If you have been thinking of exploring somewhere different and filled with character then Outback Qld's Gemfields are an absolute must. Read on for Emma's hints and tip's.

Outback QLD Gemfields

As we pulled off the Capricorn Highway and made our way into The Gemfields, each and every one of us were filled with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. We started to see all sorts of signage along the roadside, advertising gem shops, experiences and tours. The whole thing can be really confusing. Where do you go? How exactly do you fossick?

The Gemfields is made up of three townships – Sapphire, Rubyvale and Anakie. Throughout these towns you will find a range of Gem Shops, Fossicking Parks, Tag-along Tours, Train Station, Pubs, Coffee Shop, Post Office/ Chemist, Caravan Parks, Service Stations, Grocery Store, Laundromat and Rural Library. Essentially, all of your needs are met and you don’t need to leave The Gemfields unless you’re looking for a large supermarket or other additional services, which you can find in Emerald, 45-minutes away.

Fossicking Parks

There are many Fossicking Parks in Sapphire and Rubyvale, such as Pat’s Gems, Rubyvale Miners Cottage and Miners Heritage. When you fossick for sapphires at a Fossicking Park, you don’t need to worry about obtaining a Fossicking Licence or any equipment, it’s all provided.

Sorting through the wash

Here you’ll buy your dirt by the bag or bucket, which is called a Bag/ Bucket of Wash. You can rest assured that this dirt has come from a Mine in the region and is sure to contain Sapphires, no matter how large or small. Expect to pay from $10- $20 per bucket, depending on the size. The staff will teach you how to wash your rocks and search for the sapphires.

Sorting the wash in the willoughby

STEP 1: Pour a small amount of wash into the sieve;

STEP 2: Put your sieve into the Willoughby;

STEP 3: Use the handle to thoroughly wash your sieve of dirt in the Willoughby;

STEP 4: Flip the sieve onto the sorting table to get all of the rocks out and into a neat circular pile;

STEP 5: Use tweezers to sort the gravel from the Sapphires.

Sounds easy enough, right? Don’t feel disheartened if you start picking out Quartz thinking that they’re Sapphires, that’s completely normal! You’ll get the hang of it as you go. The experts will sort your findings at the end and make sure you take home all of the Sapphires from your wash.

Time to find some gems

Tag-along Tours

Another way to dig for Sapphires is by taking a Tag-along Tour. You can find these opportunities through word-of-mouth, posters around town or even advertised online. Some are professionally run businesses and some are simply the raw experience of tagging along with a local miner who can show you the ropes.

Be prepared for hot, dirty work. You will be out in the field somewhere, digging holes, sieving and washing rocks, looking for that sparkly glint in the sunlight. If you’re looking for a truly authentic Sapphire Mining experience, this is the one for you.

Designated Fossicking Lands

Spotted around The Gemfields are plenty of Designated Fossicking Lands. All you need is your own sieve, water and a bucket for washing, plus plenty of patience. You will need to buy a Fossicking Licence online for $11.55 per month for a family. You can also camp on many of the Fossicking Lands, but you may also need to obtain a Camping permit.

Fossicking lands

Even if you don’t plan on fossicking this way, I totally recommend going for a drive around some of the Fossicking Lands. It’s another whole world! You’ll get to see people living on their mining claims in all sorts of sheds, caravans and other structures. Surrounding their homes is a variety of equipment, mines and signage, making it perfectly clear that you are NOT to step inside their claim!

Rubyvale mine

What else is there to do in The Gemfields?


A spectacular lookout located at the top of an old volcanic basalt plug – the oldest in the world in fact! The track up to the top of the hill is a little steep and rocky, so a high-clearance vehicle is essential.


Australia’s Largest Underground Walk-in Sapphire Mine Tour. The 40-minute tour will take you 2 meters down into the earth’s bedrock layer to show you how and where Sapphires can be found.

COST: Adults $20 | Seniors $17.50 | 13-17 years $10 | 5-12 years $5 | Under 5’s FREE

Miners heritage walk in mine


If you wander out the back of Rubyvale into the designated fossicking fields, you will find the Thong Tree. An iconic attraction to the area. Feel free to add your own broken plugger to the thong shrine or just have a chuckle at this wacky Outback monument!

Visiting The Gemfields of Central Queensland is one worth adding to your list. It’s a completely different way of life and makes for a very unique Aussie Outback experience. You never know, you might even strike it rich!

For more detail regarding fossicking in the Gemfields you follow the below link to another article Emma has written.


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