Central Queensland gemfields
Middle Ridge fossicking area
Middle Ridge offers the choice of finding sapphires either near the surface or at slightly greater depth.
Turn off the Capricorn Highway at Anakie, and take the sealed road through Sapphire to Rubyvale (18km). Follow the partly unsealed Goanna Flat road to the west for 3km to the signposted entrance of Middle Ridge on its eastern boundary. Minor tracks lead north to the Shotgun Hill diggings while the main track continues to cross Policeman Creek. From there it disperses into minor tracks leading in several directions to the diggings of Policemans Flat and Russian Gully.
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 several good shady spots under clumps of trees. A suitable clear flat area is west of Shotgun Hill.
Water needs to be carried as there is no local supply. The nearest public facility is at Sapphire.
At Shotgun Hill at the eastern end, 2 separate washes occur within 2m of the surface. A surface wash 400mm deep, consisting of rubbly, pebbly soil, is secondary and rarely contains gems. Beneath this is a 200–500mm thick layer of tight brown clay, then 500mm of the bottom wash. This is very clayey and generally needs soaking for some time to break it down prior to sieving. Digging is quite hard, and there are some very large billy boulders in places. Some good sapphire stones, mostly blues, have been found and are often large. Large pieces of corundum (bombs) are common, as are zircons. Beneath the bottom wash is a 300mm thick layer of heavy blue-grey clay, described locally as decomposed volcanic ash.
In the central section, shallow surface wash 400mm deep has been worked on Policemans Flat. A reddish-brown bouldery wash 600mm thick beneath 1.7m of soil and sand has been worked in deeper pits. There is also a deeper wash reported at a maximum depth of 6m.
Around Russian Gully in the south-west, extensive potholing has occurred, but depths and the type of wash are not apparent. South of Russian Gully, granitic basement crops out. A thin layer of rubbly soil covers it but although not a true wash, it may yield the odd sapphire.
In this guide:
- Willows designated fossicking land
- Glenalva fossicking area
- Middle Ridge fossicking area
- Big Bessie fossicking area
- Graves Hill fossicking area
- Tomahawk Creek fossicking area
- Sapphire/Rubyvale designated fossicking land