028. 11th August 2007. Sapphires at Sapphire but no Rubies at Rubyvale or Emeralds at Emerald but there could be Anarchy at Anakie…
We just wanted to look around and absorb the atmosphere. To give us that extra sense of realism we stayed at the amateur mining lease owned by Reg & Marge Frost.
The days were hot but not uncomfortable, with no trace of humidity. Nights were cool but not cold.
The first day was just a long drive and we finally found our way onto R&M,s lease in the dark. Next morning I went for my usual early morning walk.
The people who live around these towns have to be mighty self sufficient and interesting characters. They all seem to have the lust for sapphires. Not far from where we are camped is the official fossicking site spread over many hectares. Walking over the troubled ground it seems there must be barely any ground not undisturbed and how it would be possible to find sapphires.
It seems some people still do.
Walking in the opposite direction I turned off on a side street curiously following a Tribe, Trip, Drove, Herd, Flock whatever, of Angora goats.
The story goes they were both refugees from a war in Europe. Both were chefs on Hayman Island where they met and fell in love. They bought a little block of land at Sapphire. He built a house. She developed cancer. He promised a memorial to her, to love, to freedom and a declaration of opposition to all those who would seek to suppress love and freedom.
He set up a bed in room where she could see him work each day. Each day her health diminished until she could survive no longer and died.
He continued working on the shrine until he too succumbed to illness or disease and died. The property fell into disrepair until it passed to a family member who took no care of it at all and did not pay the rates. Council took possession for back rates and sold it to somebody who rents the property. The shrine or memorial still sits at the front of the property, a structure of concrete, glass and steel overrun with weeds and a patina of age. The emotion which went into the making of the memorial is evident in the way some words are presented.
Nobody cares for it.
I was told the story by an old man walking his dog.
We travelled to Anakie and paid our money to enter the Gemfest. Lots of people dust and noise. Lots of mining equipment for the amateur miner. Lots of cutting, weighing, polishing, chipping and on and on and on with equipment and raw and polished stones. Lots of money tied up in precious and semi precious stones. Lots of mining inspectors. Lots of buyers and sellers. Amongst all this was a typical country show atmosphere.
We watched a man pull deadly snakes out of a bag and allowed them to move around a ring while he spoke. He was trying to make a point they were non- aggressive unless there was a direct threat.
There was a group of distinctly overweight women belly dancing their way around the crowds. Hmmm. A bit of a costume, some make-up and a purpose and instead of losing weight they put their weight to a different use.
A man walked a group of camels with riders on board. A small boy was clearly terrified and screamed for his mum somewhere in the crowd as his camel bounced him from side to side on the hump.
People buying bags of “wash” and go through a fossicking type activity to seek sapphires. They always find little chips and go away happy with their find in a stoppered glass tube.
Coffee from one vendor, steak sanga from another. Checking out 12-volt supply specialists. In one tent out then into another. Bumped into Maria and Des and Keith from the office. The afternoon shadows grew longer and it was time to head back to our campsite for a shower. Actually we could have showered anywhere. We are self sufficient.
Then it was on to the Rubyvale Pub for dinner. We parked and while walking to the pub a group of people told us it was crowded and we would be waiting for over an hour for dinner. Hmmm. So we went anyway and our order was taken within 10 minutes and dinner was 20 minutes later. Good, expertly cooked barramundi. Then it was off to the cricket grounds for the night’s entertainment. A couple of bands on a small stage with lots of large bonfires around the grounds and can you believe we started to drift off to sleep on our blanket? Despite the noise and crowds and heat from the fires and ash falling on us we fell asleep. Despite it not being midnight we could not stay awake for the fireworks so drove back to our campsite.
Shortly after we settled for the night a mysterious car drove onto the lease. To do so takes a bit of driving among mullock heaps and crossing other leases. The car parked facing us with the motor running and lights on hi beam. This went on for more than 5 minutes until the car backed up and turned out and slowly cruised the gravel road and away. That was a bit disturbing and I had a restless sleep. Donnis as always drifted off to sleep in moments and slept well all night. It some ways it was like being on anchor on my yacht. I was up all night taking fixes to ensure we had not drifted or dragged anchor. Same restless sleep.
Next day we headed towards home and stopped for lunch at Capella. Between Cleremont and Moranbah I was so tired I pulled off the road on a level truck rest area. Walked back to the bed and fell asleep in earnest. I woke as the shadows were getting longer. Donnis recalled a friend on a property near Moranbah so we called them up and camped on a cattle property for the night. Melanie & Darren put on a good ole Aussie bar b q for dinner.
We travelled over 1,000 for a long weekend. No wonder I was tired.