Fossicking Fun in the Emerald Gemfields

October 23, 2015 - 2 min read

If you’re looking for a unique holiday destination, then Emerald on the Central Coast is the spot for you! So, get your pickaxes and pans ready, we’re going to take you through what to do in the land of the largest sapphires and gemfields in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sapphire Gemfields

Take a 25-minute drive west of Emerald to experience fossicking first hand and try your luck at finding treasure at the Sapphire Gemfields. Since the late 1800s, the town of Sapphire has lived and breathed mining and is the services hub for The Gemfields. There are plenty of things to fill your exploration cravings such as:

  • Guided tour of a walk-in underground mine
  • Tag-along digging tour
  • Self-drive fossicking tour along the back tracks of mining areas
  • Fossicking parks to search for sapphires
  • The historic Piano Tuners Grave at Retreat Creek
  • Photo opportunities with the ‘The Big Ring’, ‘The Big Spanner’ & ‘The Big Pick & Shovel’
  • Camping
  • Galleries
  • Gemshops
  • Jewellers

Gemfest: Festival of Gems

Since 1988, this annual 4-day festival has descended into the town of Anakie near the Sapphire Gemfields to celebrate the history and beauty of gems and sapphires. There is something for every member of the family including:

  • Gem displays & exhibitions
  • Music & live performances
  • Dedicated children’s entertainment area
  • Gems & jewellery for sale
  • Lapidary & equipment supplies
  • Competitions & raffles
  • Rides
  • Fireworks


Rubyvale is another small town located among the Sapphire Gemfields, which has a number of historical sites and attractions to keep the whole family entertained. These can be found scattered throughout town and include:

  • The Australian Miners Historic Museum
  • The “tummy tunnels” used by pioneer miners
  • Middle Ridge, the closest fossicking area
  • Town architecture made of “billy boulders”, ironbark logs & locally crafted wrought-iron

Willows Gemfields

If you travel further west along the Capricorn Highway, you will stumble upon the Willows Gemfields, known for its unusually coloured sapphires. This is a very popular fossicking spot due to there being no corporate mining and little machinery used or permitted in the past.
Willows Gemfields has also been home to some of the world’s most famous sapphire discoveries, including a 332 carat yellow sapphire named the “Golden Willow”. There are numerous fossicking areas and parks, so you can explore and make your own famous sapphire find.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay as you explore the gemfields, here are some local Emerald accommodation options.

Emerald Gardens Motel & Apartments

Put up your picks for the night while you stay at the Emerald Gardens Motel & Apartments. They offer a number of facilities in their self-contained apartments such as:

  • Room service & packed lunches
  • An Indian/Australian licensed restaurant
  • Double glazed windows for sound protection

Emerald Gardens Motel & Apartments is located within close proximity to the centre of Emerald and also offers free Wi-Fi. Check out their LocalSearch profile page for a full list of services.