Emerald to Sapphire
We left the lovely ladies at the Emerald tourist office at 12.30, slightly later than planned. One reason was that it took me longer than expected to write my thrilling report :-) and the other was that Francoise and Nina were waiting for me outside while I was waiting for them inside. Failure to communicate? All good though.
The towns in this area all have these signs to welcome you. Art for arts sake?
Sapphire is like a town from a movie set. We were looking for the centre of town but before we knew it we were on the other side so had to turn back. The post office seemed like a good place to ask where to go and a very friendly lady directed us to Pat's cafe where we were promised good food, gems and a talking Cockatoo.
What's a fossicking park we asked ourselves.
It was now after 1pm and we were all a bit hungry. Seeing the meals being served also made our mouths water. You are not always guaranteed a great meal around these parts but this place is an exception.
|Sweetlip, salad and chips|
To get to the cafe you have to walk through the store where local gems, and fossils are on display at quite amazing prices.
The ammonite fossils were amazing. The huge one only costs $180
The Amethyst's weren't shabby either
And a rainbow assortment of others
While dining in the "garden of tranquility we were tempted to try...
Fossicking for ourselves! One purchases a bucket of wash for $10 and first one separates the dust,
then you rinse the remainder in water removing the rest of the dust and rock,
|Credit Francoise Petitjean|
and other precious gems.
|Credit Francoise Petitjean|
Originally we meant the exercise to be mainly fun for Nina but soon we caught the fever. We ended up getting a second bucket and this was our catch. One cheeky fellow tourist who had seen us at lake Maraboon remarked, "this is going better than your fishing".
We had quite a few sapphires and zircins. Two were "cutters"! These are stones large enough to be cut.
Sapphire to Clermont
Now we were way behind schedule and had no time for Rubyvale as we were meeting a friend in Charters towers today and there was only an hour of sun left and we wanted to make it to Clermont before dark. It is dangerous driving after dark because of all the roo's on the road. We didn't quite make it and nearly hit one. Not having a bull-bar this is not a good idea.
Well we made it to Leo hotel-motel safe but this is an establishment that I cannot recommend highly. We slept, left early in the morning and made our destination before noon. There are hardly any cars on this very straight and good road. The carcasses of roo's and a few cows line the road every 50 metres so imagine the drive at night, Brrrr
We met up with Ralph Jackson and his group of intrepid bike riders in the afternoon and will join them on their trek to Houghendon but that's tomorrows story.