I'm a mother of four with two coeliac children. I'm always on the lookout for great gluten-free spots around Brisbane and feature gluten-free cooking in my blog: coeliacfamily.blogspot.com.au
I'm also a muso and enjoy live music around town.
Published October 3rd 2021
Find your fortune fossicking
The Miner's Heritage walk-in mine tour in the Gemfields in Rubyvale is a great way to get a taste of how a sapphire mine operates. This once operational underground mine is the largest underground walk-in mine experience and allows you to explore mining tunnels and see how the miners found their gems, both in the past and in modern times. As you head down into the mine, the temperature drops, a welcome relief from the heat. Beneath the surface are displays and a viewing room with an interesting video on the history of the mine and mining techniques. A walk through the tunnels give you an insight in into the cramped quarters the miners worked in, the different strata levels which the sapphires were found and examples of the types of precious stones which could be found. The guides are ready to answer any of your questions and are very knowledgeable about mining techniques and the history of the mine. The tunnels are also inhabited by microbats, which fly around your head as you walk through the tunnels. We were lucky enough to see the baby micro bats huddling together in a small depression in the roof. A walk through one of the unlit tunnels is a spooky experience, not for the faint-hearted.
Once back above ground, you can spend time browsing the offerings in the gift shop – a wide range of set precious and semi-precious stones in a variety of jewellery settings or unset for you to design your own jewellery. Make sure you bring your wallet! There is small food outlet, or bring your own lunch and sit in the undercover area.
The other activity on offer is a chance to do some fossicking of your own. Grab a bucket of wash, follow the instructions on how to pick out the semiprecious stones from the run of the mill gravel. Hold your stones up to the light and see if you can make your fortune. We were lucky enough to find a few pieces of black sapphire in our bucket. Now we just need to find someone to set them in some jewellery for us! Make sure you bring a hat and sunscreen as the fossicking area is in full sun.
The mine tours run for 40 minutes and start quarter past the hour running from 9:15 to 2:15, 7 days a week. Bookings are required and the cost is $20 for Adults, $17.50 for Seniors, $10 for 13-17 year olds, $5 for 5 – 12 year olds, with under 5's free. Group booking prices are also available. Fossicking costs $25 for a 10 litre bucket, or pay $35 for a Bonanza Bag which is guaranteed to include a cut sapphire or zircon for you to find. The mine is open from 9am – 3pm every day. For more information visit the Miner's Heritage website, or call them on 0749854444.