WHO ARE WE?: The Willows is one of the towns in the region referred to collectively as The Gemfields.
WHO ARE WE?: The Willows is one of the towns in the region referred to collectively as The Gemfields. Contributed

Gemfields address woes

RESIDENTS in Rubyvale, Anakie, Sapphire and The Willows are hoping two upcoming community engagement meetings will provide constructive forums for solutions to be found to a raft of 'identity' issues across the region including emergency services not being able to locate a caller in their towns.

Locals across The Gemfields are also battling constant and ongoing issues with mail being lost and wayfinding challenges when travelling with GPS systems.

Residents are being asked to take part in a Central Highlands Regional Council bounded locality project to investigate a possible dissolution and redefinition of the locality.

The historic towns were grouped together about 20 years ago under the name of The Gemfields as part of a national agenda to define areas for "wayfinding purposes and technology developments like geocoding and GPS”, Mayor Kerry Hayes said this week.

Cr Hayes said there was also a connection to mobile phone infrastructure established at the time.

Walter Bergen of Rubyvale said that classifying the whole area as The Gemfields had been like putting every suburb of the Gold Coast under 'the Gold Coast'.

"Imagine the nightmare that would cause for the post.”

He said he that recently he had received four different bills, each one with a different address on it.

"When we went to apply for a passport they wouldn't recognise the documents as they all had different addresses - the addressing situation is out of control.

"And if you're ordering online and go to order via a dropbox, Rubyvale doesn't exist.

"But the most major issue I have had was when I had reason to call 000 and I spoke to the operator for five minutes before she could work out where in Queensland we were.

"The 000 is a very, very bad situation - it's just crazy.”

Mr Bergen said he had also ordered an air-conditioner and the website he used didn't provide an option for the unit to be sent to Rubyvale - a common experience when ordering online.

"So I had it sent via an Emerald address.”

He said hoped a solution could be found where the towns were once again recognised separately.

'Sapphire is my identity,' says long-term resident

SAPPHIRE resident Chris Ellerton said the town was "idyllic” and it was her identity.

"We built here, we raised our entire family here - Sapphire is my identity,” she said.

"Small towns often struggle for an identity but we do have an identity and it's a beautiful place.

"It's fair enough referring to it as an area but when it comes to formalising it as they did it changes the whole ball game.

"The service providers don't know where you are even though you've been there for 36 years.

"It's a bit like saying you want to send something to Roma, so you say 16 Smith St, Darling Downs. It's just not going to work.

"I've lived at the same address for over 35 years and now my mail just goes anywhere or does the rounds of every other post office before it gets back to me.

"It's beyond ridiculous. We're trying to run a business and people can't find us.”

She said GPS systems often only recognised The Gemfields, not individual towns.

Ms Ellerton said that about a year ago she saw her neighbour's house - which wasn't occupied - being broken into about midnight.

"I tried to contact Policelink but I was treated like an idiot,” she said.

"They didn't recognise Sapphire and meanwhile the person next door is hammering through the windows.

"They said to me, 'No, could you think of another suburb you might live in?'

"It was really demeaning. I told them the township is called Sapphire and I've lived here for over 35 years.

"To be treated like an idiot by emergency services - like a fluff-brained biddy who doesn't know where she lives - is really off-putting to say the least.”

She said it was vital that technology at all emergency call centres and insurance providers recognised Sapphire, Rubyvale, Anakie and The Willows as towns.

"You just feel like sending them all maps,” she said.

Postcode problems ongoing in Gemfields

RUBYVALE resident Louisa Gittens said she would support a call for a separate postcode to be allocated for each Gemfields town.

"My husband, Ian, is a diabetic and we order $100 scanners, four at a time, on the internet and they're taking 10 days to get here,” she said.

"We've been told to put 'Gemfields' on the address or take the 'The' off.”

The latest instruction, she said, was to use "Rubyvale” as the destination address.

"I don't know yet if it's working,” Ms Gittens said.

"We're so sick of getting our mail confused. We never get it and when we do it's normally too late.”

She said their mail often ended up in Rockhampton.

"They need to give everyone their own postcode,” she said.

"I don't understand why it is so difficult. There is no post office for The Gemfields. There is no actual town called that.

"These towns have been in existence for well over 100 years. We've just always called it The Gemfields for tourism purposes, like the Darling Downs or the Sunshine Coast.”

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