As with any plans they can be changed and ours are changed almost daily.
We left the Gil Weir behind and headed to Emerald on Saturday, April 2nd. Injune was one of the little towns we went through on the way which is one of the base towns of the Canarvon Gorge. We had a look around the town and in the lovely information centre then hit the road again.Once we got to Emerald we decided to go a little further to Sapphire, as it was only another 45kms, we were anxious to try our hand at the fossicking there. This is a bit of a trip down memory for Murray as he spent a lot of time in the gem fields as a child with his family.
After a six and half hour trip we arrived at the RSL camp grounds, around 3/3.30pm, it was dry and very hot, 35degrees, our setting up just didn’t go to plan and saw us get a little frustrated. Set up usually takes around four minutes with ease but our hard floor feet weren’t right, the ground was the wrong angle and it was too damn hot, with no shade. We finished nearly 45 minutes later, after several hitch ups and unhitches, at which time Murray flopped into a chair and opened a beer way too hot and flustered to move any further.
I headed for the showers and met some other campers who informed me there was a do on in the club that night at 6pm with a $12 seafood basket for one. I booked for both of us.
We made our way to the clubhouse around 5.30 and began meeting all the locals as we meandered through to the bar. Upon pulling up a seat at a table the stories were flowing of all the fossicking succes they had been having on their claims. These people were so friendly and obliging with information on how to find the perfect gem. These people were from all walks of life and were from all around the country. Most had travelled here for a holiday and ended up coming back to live permanently.
Murray made a friend in Jim The Gem. Here was a man of little means but many stories, a popular regular around the place who seems to come in once a week to the RSL for a proper shower, a decent feed and some company with whom he can share his latest tale. He was surprised that Murray had been to the gem fields with his family some years before he found the place.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner, everything was beautiful and we fast made good friends with our fellow campers with whom we would spend the next three nights. As there were only three couples set up in the grounds it was a peaceful time and the showers weren’t crowded.
Sunday morning, up early, yoga in the open spaces, breakfast and off to take a look around the gem fields. We looked around for a while in what we thought was the right area of Reward. I didn’t enjoy the up hill down dale of four wheel driving, my stomach kept churning and I let Murray know I wasn’t having fun. Returning to the main road we travelled on a bit and found Washpool on Retreat Creek and Jim the Gem. Just like him his place of dwelling is simple, in a garden shed, but with views that would cost a fortune anywhere else. After a wonderful half hour of tales he sent us off on our journey to find the right spot with a ‘the big one’ in it but we think we got lost. After finding a spot and having a bit of a dig we returned to the creek crossing for some lunch with the magic sound of all the birdlife around us and the simple serenity of the place. What a lovely spot. Better luck tomorrow maybe.
Find of the day as we drove back was the old log cabin that Murray had been looking for, built by a friend of the family, Jack Campbell, in the early seventies. An historic moment in time. Back to camp, we decided we would stay another night and explore some more on Monday. This was another hot dry day, 35 degrees again. My shower was wonderful when we got back to camp after all that dirt.
Explore we did. After some yoga and a leisurely breakfast with the locals, birds, Monday morning, we headed back out to the same area but different spot. We spent a few hours digging and seiving but to no avail. Highlight of the day was digging up a hibernating frog with its skin half off and actually seeing it shed its skin when we disturbed the poor thing. We did have a few laughs at each other and of course, made our own memories in the gem fields of Retreat Creek. Lunch was devoured in the creek bed again with some cows this time. We headed back to have a final happy hour with our friends in the shade of the RSL and to swap stories about our day. Hot once again, another 35 degrees, luckily it cools off to sleep.
We were moving on the next day Tuesday to Charters Towers another trip down memory lane for Murray as he spent a few years living there.