We spent several days in Emerald having our windscreen replaced. Julie and Lloyd from Emerald Autoglass were brilliant especially as FJ Cruisers are more difficult to fix than other 4WDs! We had a good yarn with them and it was sad to learn that there has been a big turndown in business over the last 3 years and 4000 people have left town to look for work so there are lots of vacant houses.
The Big Easel is a striking tribute to this region’s sunflower production – it is HUGE! It is part of the Van Gogh Project created by Canadian artist Cameron Cross. He intends to reproduce all 7 of Vincent’s beautiful sunflower paintings in 7 different countries across the world – very special for us having seen Van Gogh’s wonderful works at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam last year.
Alongside is a mosaic pathway of 21 tiles created by local artists to describe 100 years of Emerald’s history. The local Aboriginal people, the Murri, designed several mosaics about the dreamtime, before and after white settlement, and the future. We found these positive visual images very beautiful.
Gem perusal and prospecting was in order in Sapphire and Rubyvale, about 45 mins from Emerald. The gem merchants come in all shapes and sizes – some tracing their ancestry back through many generations of hard yakka, others who happily said that they import their stones from Thailand cos it’s cheaper – and the full gamut in between. The colours of the sapphires include blue, green and pink etc but the golden yellow ones were stunning – and expensive.
We enjoyed meeting Bill from the Monique Mine, a local bloke who likes to have a yarn and provides punters like us with a $15 bucket of gravel from the diggings alongside his house to sieve… we had great fun and learnt a lot!
We went away with a tiny bag of babies, but also a couple needing more investigation – e.g. the one that looks like an old yellow tooth!
It was also great to see the modern pub and gem shops going back to using the traditional timber planking and stone construction used in this region – and the beer wasn’t bad either!