The Story of The Big Sapphire
The Big Sapphire still stands in front of the Big Sapphire and Gemfield Information Centre despite its closure in 2012.
Anakie is among the three towns in The Gemfields, located in the Central Highlands region of Queensland. The other two are Sapphire and Rubyvale. This region is known for its historic mining fields rich in sapphire and other precious stones such as rubies, emeralds, and peridots.
For many years, gemstones have been associated with wealth, royalty, and spiritual power. So when sapphire was discovered in the 1870s, the discovery intensified mining activities in the region. Given that many miners were of Russian origin, these precious stones made their way to Russia and the rest of Europe.
However, mining activities significantly reduced in the early-1900s when the prices of sapphire dropped due to the Russian Revolution. Today, Anakie is home to popular sapphire and gemstone fossicking sites where visitors can try their luck in finding a gemstone while learning a thing or two about the town’s history.
The Big Sapphire adds to the list of iconic Big Things built to commemorate sapphire and gemstone mining in the Gemfields. For example, there is the Big Miner in Rubyvale found at the entrance of the Bobby Dazzler mines. This is also a famous sapphire fossicking spot where visitors can learn so much from the guided tours through the old mines.
Another sapphire-related Big Thing in the region is the Big Pick, Shovel, and Sieve in Sapphire. This is a set of three traditional mining items commonly used by miners in the region. It wasn’t until the 1970s when modern machinery was introduced, sparking another slight boom in the region’s mining activities.
Other mining-inspired Big Things of Australia include:
- The Big Wheelbarrow, Port Hedland, Western Australia
- The Big Gold Nugget, Douglas-Daly, Northern Territory
- The Big Gold Panner in Kelso, New South Wales
- The Big Gold Pick and Pan, Grenfell, New South Wales