Monday, 24 March 2014

Emerald: the Capital of the Central HoHums

We left Carnarvon Gorge with a spring in our step, ready for ‘civilisation’ and Emerald. Turns out we just got Emerald. Aah I joke, it wasn’t that bad but it wasn’t great either and in fact just turned out to be bloody expensive and hot…

We drove through Rolleston (don’t blink) and then Springsure before hitting Emerald. Springsure is what I imagine the Tidy Towns Winner should actually look like; all the little shops are fresh looking, the streets are clean and everything has a well cared for feel to it. We should have stopped here but continued on to Emerald. The thermometer on the car stayed on 38 degrees so long I thought it was broken. It was still 36 degrees at 7pm that night. Hot.

So, what’s there to do in Emerald? Well you can go and look at the giant Sunflowers painted on the giant easel (???) or go to the brand-spanking-new shopping complex just out of town and mix with everyone out there- remember to pack your high-vis gear. Or you could go to the new aquatic centre, opened just 4 days before we got there, right next door to the caravan park and splash about for hours on end. Or if you don’t have kids, choose one of the three Irish pubs in town to go and have a craic at. No prizes for guessing which option we went with on the first and second day spent in Emerald.

Mining tunnel fun.

After spending practically all our money on crap for the van whilst here, (along with a shoe shopping expedition for Marguerite. So painful.), Fiela was even more excited by the idea of prospecting at the gem fields of Rubyvale and Sapphire. Luckily for us it was very hot, so the idea of leaving our aquatic centre goodness for even hotter and dustier Rubyvale was dismissed. Instead, we drove out for the day and did the Miners Heritage MuseumTour. At $20 per adult it was pretty expensive, but we got to take a tour underground in one of the mines and see how it’s all done. The tour was taken by a kind looking lady in her sixties, very well presented and not at all the stereotype of what I thought someone who lived and worked her own gemfield mine would look like. She had absolutely no teeth missing and didn’t drop one F-Bomb. In fact she was from the Gold Coast and loved the lifestyle of hot, dirty work in isolation with little chance of real reward. At least she looks good while she’s doing it. Anyway, the tour was informative and since it was underground we managed to escape the heat for a while. We definitely got a sense of how hard it would have been for early miners, and even with all the mod cons how it is still pretty tough work now. Marguerite was most impressed by the small bats living in the tunnels.


Normal looking tour guide.

Caesar sorting out rocks on the ground. Buckets of wash are behind him.

Washing the stones to make the gems easier to see.
 Above ground Fiela bought a bucket of ‘wash’ (the small leftover rocks and mud from the initial grading of stone) for $20 and we all proceeded to fossick our way through it, excited by the idea of getting a ‘big one’. Really, we should have bought a lottery ticket- we would have got the same result and been a lot less hot, dusty and bothered by the end of it. We ended up with a handful of tiny gems worth exactly nothing more than the look of perplexity and frustration on Fiela’s face and the wonder and excitement on Marguerite’s at having found “jewels”. $20 worth of value I’m not sure, but it was pretty fun all the same.

Old mate found a nice one for us straight away.
So we left without a gem that would finance the rest of our trip, and after going the wrong way for 20 minutes, then finding the detour we missed the first time thanks to the dodgiest road works ever (take this detour through a grassed children’s park then 4WD your way up an embankment?!) we made it back to Emerald just in time to be underwhelmed again. As we sat overlooking the water treatment plant, we gazed up at the night sky and listened to the people next door fight, and I finally had a sense of being on holiday. Strange but true. Could have been the wine. It was probably the wine. 

1 comment:

  1. ha ha ha you should have been there when a bus full of pissed university students rocked up to the local pub. the town didn't know what to do with themselves. all we knew, is that we were totally cool!