Central Queensland gemfields

Glenalva fossicking area

Good quality sapphires have been found at Glenalva, located close to the Capricorn Highway.


The turn-off to Glenalva from the sealed Capricorn Highway is signposted 62km south from Emerald, or 20km from Anakie. An unsealed road leads for 1km to the boundary of the fossicking area and continues through the centre of the area along a ridge crest. Minor tracks lead from the road to various diggings. The boundaries are fenced.



Camping is allowed for a maximum period of 3 months. Camping permits can be obtained from our regional offices or fossicking licence agents. There are no facilities, but there are many suitable camping spots along the lightly timbered ridges. The main camping area is near the western boundary.

There is no permanent water supply in the area, so visitors must carry water. The nearest supply is at Anakie. Water for treating the wash may be seasonally available from Blackboy Creek.

Fossicking notes

Shallow wash rarely exceeds 500mm. The workings have exposed 300mm of grey soily wash containing pebbles and cobbles of chert and silicified sandstone. This overlies a thin layer of light-grey clayey material, described locally as decomposed volcanic ash. The wash rests on a clay bottom, which overlies basement rocks.

There are separate digging areas, chiefly near the western boundary south of the road and at Paceys Ridge on the north side of the road. The McAuleys Hill diggings are to the east, on the southern side of the road.

Glenalva has produced a wide variety of stones, predominantly greens or blue-greens and yellows, with occasional black star sapphires, particolours, blues and pinks. The rare blues, and a fair proportion of the greens, are of high quality.

Although much of Glenalva has been hand-mined to some extent, there is still sufficient virgin wash to provide opportunities for fossickers. Areas that may yield sapphires are in the tops of gullies that drain off the central wash-capped ridge. These areas are good for specking, particularly after rain.

In this guide:

  1. Willows designated fossicking land
  2. Glenalva fossicking area
  3. Middle Ridge fossicking area
  4. Big Bessie fossicking area
  5. Graves Hill fossicking area
  6. Tomahawk Creek fossicking area
  7. Sapphire/Rubyvale designated fossicking land

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