We were all up early to get a good start on the day. We hired our gear from a lovely couple at Blue Hollow Mine, Pete and Deb. After chatting for a good 10 minutes, Pete loves to chew your ear off, we headed out of town to the fossicking area called Glenalva. We have had success here in the past, so it seemed the best place to start.
We took our time selecting a good site and started digging. We did one quick sieve of the dirt to check and see if it had any sapphire. Sure enough we found a little yellow sapphire. Happy with our chosen spot, we set up for the day. Fossicking equipment, water drums, shade tent, chairs, esky, and drink bottles. We all got a job and got to work. My wife was digging, mum was on the shaker, then I washed the rock and handed back to mum to put through the Willoughby. The final step was to flip them out and search for the sapphires. That job was mostly left to me, as I have the best eyes in the group, and also have quite the nack for finding gemstones. Oh wait I missed one of the group… Dad… oh yeah he spent most of the morning on the phone. We didn’t get to really hear the sounds of our surroundings, through the phone conversations.
Occasionally I found another little sapphire, or some small pieces of zircon, but nothing worth faceting. Dad would often walk off and try and find a better dig site. He would came back with a bucket full of dirt, just enough to put through the sieve, but also came back talking, yet again, on his phone. He even had a teleconference at one point.
We met a couple who had been camped on the fossicking site for the past 2 weeks and will probably stay another 4-6 weeks. They left home in February and have been travelling around Australia to lots of different fossicking areas looking for different gemstones. Amethyst, zircon, garnet, topaz, and now sapphires. They said sapphires are the hardest to find and that they have noticed a big change in the land since they first started coming 14 years ago, and have been back every year since.
Overall we were quite disappointed that we didn’t find anything, but we had heaps of fun and really felt like true fossickers. We were out there doing it ourselves. I’m guessing it would have been tough for mum, because it was her first ever day of fossicking, whereas the rest of us had been here before, been out on a day tour, and knew what to expect.
We packed up our dig site, put everything back in the trailer and headed to the best place in Sapphire. Pat’s Gems! We bought a bucket of wash, which is just a bunch of dirt that has come out of the open cut mine. You are guaranteed to find a sapphire in your bucket. We found about 40 sapphires, maybe 15 zircon and half a dozen pieces of spinel. Unfortunately none of them were worth faceting. We didn’t mind, it was nice to finally see some sapphires in the sieve. We were starting to worry that we were doing it wrong. The sun had now dropped too low for sapphire hunting and it was time for a shower.
We all got dressed in our fancy clothes, put on our jewellery and even a little perfume and headed back to Pat’s Gems. We had a reservation at ‘Scrub Blush Cafe’. This was just a cafe, in a small country town, not usually warranting such fancy attire, but we hadn’t really had the chance to get all dressed up, so we took the opportunity.
The waitress was a typical country girl, but seemed nervously excited for some reason. She had to read the menu to us, because the printer had stopped working that morning, and the menu changes depending on what food they have left in stock. Our expectations of the food were not exactly high, but matched the feel of the place. The food however, far exceed our expectations. Such a delicious meal. Very impressed! We later found out that it was the waitresses first night of work. No wonder she seemed a little trepidatious.
After we all felt completely stuffed, from our giant delicious meals we headed back to the cabin and crashed into bed, exhausted from a big day out in the field, but ready to do it all again tomorrow. We drifted off to sleep, dreaming of sapphires… well I know I did!