A Pick and Drive Tour of the Gemfields

By Paul Feltham

I decided to test out my new camper-trailer by dragging it out to the Central Australian gemfields from northern NSW. The round trip would be about 10,000 kilometres in total, a veritable gemstone safari taking in 12 of Australia’s top gemfields.

First stop was the Central Queensland sapphire fields where I found just two cuttable stones in the three weeks I was there. I also broke my camcorder which set my trip back even further. Sapphire was a bit of a disappointment with only two stones and numerous bits of unusable corundum and I was happy to pack up and head to my next destination, the garnet field of Fullerton River.

I had a good time here collecting garnets though specking and digging, with the digging involving nothing more than shifting 10 inches of dirt before I was ready to sieve and sort. I bagged dozens and dozens of garnets, keeping in mind that just because they won’t facet doesn’t mean they can’t be cabochoned. No stone is wasted. Only two days stay is permitted here, so it was short and sweet but I got a coffee jar full of cutters.

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