Scott and Jodie get their hands dirty.
Scott and Jodie get their hands dirty.

Fields fossickers love Retreat

FROM first-time fossickers to long-term addictions on the fields, Retreat Creek has seen its fair share of locals and tourists searching for that special gem that catches their eye.

Maria and Ernie Carboon of Mooroopna have been visiting the Gemfields on and off for the past 15 years and said it was their addiction to fossicking that kept bringing them back to Retreat Creek.

While the couple finds bits and pieces most days, everything they find goes straight to their nine grandchildren.

“It’s better to see their faces smile when you give them something and they appreciate it,” Ernie said.

The biggest stone the couple has ever found was uncovered last year in the creek and was an 11-carat blue sapphire.

Maria said seeing that glimmer in the dirt gave an indescribable feeling.

“Your heart just goes thump, thump, thump,” she said as she sifted through another batch of wash.

But their experience was different this year, as it was their first time seeing running water in Retreat Creek and they were excited at the news of a new deposit of sapphires from the December-January floods.

“We’re yet to strike it, but it’s only our first day on the job,” Maria said with a laugh.

Another couple scouring the creek beds this week were Scott and Jodie Lee, who were eager to uncover some sapphires and zircons for their first time fossicking.

“Three weeks ago I never even knew this place existed,” Scott said of the Gemfields. “It’s just beautiful.”

The Canberra couple said the thrill of what you could uncover was what made the experience so exciting.

“The thing is, we could go and buy something from the shop but to come here dig it, find it and cut it, how good would that be?” Scott said with a glint of hope in his eye.

Two people who have seen tourists come and go and the beautiful stones that can be found are Fiona and John Moore, who own Blue Gem Caravan Park.

While they don’t get much time to make it to the creek themselves, Fiona said seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they came in with their finds was enough to make her smile.

“We’ve seen some lovely stones come out of the creek,” she said.

The December-January floods may have hit the region pretty hard, but Fiona said the park was lucky to have escaped major damage and recovered quickly.

“Water didn’t get into any of the cabins or the house and we only closed for one day during the floods,” Fiona said.

And while there might be confident tourists out there, Fiona said there was no guarantee of finding anything while fossicking.

“That the thrill of it all – the harder you work the more chance you have of finding something good,” she said with a laugh.

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