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Digital Subscriptions > Rock&Gem Magazine > February 2019 > LAVA PLAINS


The access road to the sapphire field is only accessible by the mining lease owners to the rear of the fossicking grounds. The entrance has a locked gate.

My first experience of Lava Plains (North Queensland, Australia) was around 1985, when a local farmer allowed ‘friends of friends’ to wander around certain areas of his holdings, camp in a rough shelter used for putting out cattle lick in the summer, and randomly pick up bits of sapphire and anything else shiny wherever we saw it.

Hailing from Cairns (tropical locale considered the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), our winter clothes consisted of tracksuits, jeans, and a spray jacket. We arrived at Lava Plains in July, full of enthusiasm for a weeks’ holiday spent alone in the bush with the promise of treasure to be found.

The weather was clear, with bright, glorious sunshine and by nightfall, it was absolutely freezing. So much so we went to bed with the sun every night, wearing every garment we could fit on, under every blanket that we had bought, huddled together like a litter of puppies until the morning. The days were only marginally warmer and the only skin to see the light of day was on our hands; quite a shock to our tropical blood. It became one of those ‘remember the time’ family legends that we recall quite clearly some 30 years later, and not because of the gemstones which were scarce and poor quality. It is probably no surprise that it took us a long while to gather our courage to return for another go.

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Beckett Rock & Gem February 2019, Collector Corner : Chasing Thunder Eggs & More, Favourable Fossicking : Exploring Australia's Lava Plains, WULFENITE : A Symphony of Color and Contrast, And More.....