A Hole Lot of Zircon

By Steve Wright

It was getting close to our annual month-long trip to our sapphire lease in central Queensland, which my brother-in-law John and I make every May. We've been doing this for the past five years and the result has been some very nice sapphires but in 2011 the weather early on had been bad and because of the floods, we decided to have a break from sapphires and take a trip out to Harts Range and try for some zircons.

John, who has been cutting gems for about 35 years, had been out to Harts Range in the early '70s and was keen to go back, so after discussing it for about five minutes we said 'that's it, we're going.' I'm from Sydney and John is from Brisbane so the idea was for me to fly to Brisbane from where we would head west by car, out to Boulia and along the Plenty Highway which is 850km of dirt road.

We did some research on the Plenty and because of all the wet weather, we learned it was washed out in places and elsewhere the road was boggy and corrugated so we decided to take the scenic route from Brisbane via Toowoomba, Roma, Longreach, Winton, Mt Isa, Camooweal, Three Ways, Tennant Creek and down to Alice Springs.

The road trip from Brisbane was 3,200km and we were mighty glad when it was done.

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