Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sapphire and Rubyvale

We had stopped at the very neat and tidy town of Capella for lunch on the way through to Sapphire. We were actually stopped alongside the road that would take us directly to Rubyvale but our Garmin GPS would not recognise either of Sapphire or Rubyvale, these towns simply did not exist! We tried to be smart, difficult, I know, but we simply entered the co-ordinates for the free camp in Sapphire, surely that would get us there! We were presented with directions that would take us kilometres out of our way through the City of Emerald. We settled for using human grey matter and driving the shorter more direct route.

We hadn't been to Sapphire before and were keen to see what was there but the main purpose for heading that direction was Jim and Lee, people we had met at Apollo Bay in March 2012 were camped there and it seemed like a great opportunity to meet up again as we were passing through the same general area.

The towns of Sapphire and Rubyvale are unique in that most of the land cannot be owned freehold, but must be leased from a mining company. The leases are for a term of only 5 years, hence most of the residences are only constructed in a temporary manner. The up side is that there are no Council Rates, but also there are no services either.

To fossick for Gem Stones in the open fossicking areas a permit is required but this is relatively cheap considering the value of the stones that can be found. Be very careful not to enter on another person's lease though!

As most of the land is "Common Land" in both Rubyvale and Sapphire beef cattle are free to roam anywhere they desire and they have 'right-of-way' on the roads.

Between Rubyvale and Sapphire, a distance of only 8 km, you will see piles of rubble brought to the surface by the gem seekers.

Several of the miners have permits to use heavy machinery to seek their fortune. For most, a pick, a shovel and a bucket is all that is allowed. Only recently pneumatic jack hammers have been permitted.

One of the very few well established homes in the area.

The Pub at Rubyvale.

Jude and I had lunch at Tea Rooms at The Gem Gallery and this rather cheeky intruder tried to fly away with Jude's Toasted Sandwich.

One of the Tourist Attractions in Rubyvale, tour a working underground mine.

How mining was once performed, but back then there was only candle light.

Notice the regulation mining apparel. It was a quite cool 22 deg C underground while it was closer to 40 deg C up top.

One of the Gem Galleries in Sapphire.

Sapphire General Store and fuel.

Sapphire Hardware. All the businesses in Sapphire are spread over a wide area, you need to drive between each business.

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