Just a short drive from Emerald is another semi precious gem of a place, Ruby Vale (just a hop, skip and a jump north of Sapphire). We parked at the Miners Heritage, a school excursion of sorts involving a walk-in sapphire mine that we toured before concluding with a spot of fossicking – looking for those elusive bits of blue. In fact, it turns out that sapphire in fact comes in all colours, from blue to yellow to almost clear and even to red, more commonly known as ruby. We found quite a few in our $20 bucket of wash, including match head sized ones to a centimetre sized low quality sapphire. All quite exciting, especially for the boys. As another tourist on the mine tour quipped ‘gem fossickers are a different kind of crazy’. After the quite extraordinary experience we had at the Chambers of the Black Hand underground opal mine in Lighting Ridge last year, this one got a C minus from me.
Leaving The Gemfields and heading towards Longreach, we had a few choices for camping, including Alpha, which Sam said had tons of petrified wood. I asked what were the trees scared of? We decided instead on a free camp at Jericho. Clean loos, a view of the river (with water) and no bugs. Perfect.