We departed Emerald this morning after a very relaxing couple of days. While we love the freedom camping bit, it is also quite nice to get into a fully serviced Park to be able to do catch up on the chores and have a land based shower. We are currently doing about four or five days freedom camping and two days in a Park each week.
Emerald is a traditional mining town that is a bit down on its luck at the moment. The mining industry on Australia’s east coast is struggling and that in turn affects the prosperity of smaller towns such as Emerald. We did our best to support the town by socialising at the local golf club and dining out last night with friends.
On leaving Emerald this morning we were not sure whether to stay at Sapphire or at Rubyvale – each one about 70km from Emerald. Either would have done the job as our plan today was to do a bit of gem fossicking in the area. In the end Sapphire won out as we discovered that the RSL in Sapphire had a camping area attached to it at $5 per night per van.
Once parked up at the RSL we unhitched the jeep and drove inland until we found a fossicking opportunity. Unfortunately it is not just a matter of heading into the country and start digging as most of the land has formal mining claims against it. We managed to find a mine that operated on a Saturday where you could buy an $8 bucket of earth and wash and sieve it for gems. We bought two buckets and came away with twelve sapphires that we intend getting made into jewellery. It was another new experience for both of us.
Back at the motorhome we had a quick clean up (mining is a dusty experience) and headed over to the RSL (about 20 metres from the motorhome) for a few drinks and dinner. Like our RSA’s in New Zealand, socialising in an RSL is relatively inexpensive – dinner was ten dollars each and a glass of wine and a schooner of beer were six dollars.
We are now back at the motorhome and about to watch the Australia vs South Africa game as the big game on the RSL’s TV is the AFL semi final. We are unable get the AB’s v’s Argentina game.
Tomorrow morning we will support the local Sunday markets and then start our journey south on the Dawson Highway toward Roma. Our stop tomorrow night will be at Higher Ground Homestay, about 80km from our current location. It is a privately owned camping facility close to the Fairbairn Dam and on a river. I have been told that there are red claw in the river and the dam but I have heard that story quite a few times since arriving here!!
Our plan is to get to Roma on Friday.
We have been told that telephone and data reception is very average between here to Roma so we may not be able to update the blog again until our arrival in Roma.