Fossickers sort through rock in search of colour after floods unearth a new deposit, sparking interest in the region.
Fossickers sort through rock in search of colour after floods unearth a new deposit, sparking interest in the region.

Roadshow a real gem for Gemfields

WHILE people down south might have thought Queensland was closed for business following the December-January floods, there were four bus loads of business operators proving otherwise last month.

Linda Drake was one of 200 people on the tour, making sure people in NSW and Victoria knew the Sunshine State was open for business and promoting the state’s wonderful tourist attractions.

Linda, who is the president of Gemfest Festival of Gems, said the six-day Queensland Holiday Roadshow was an “absolutely amazing” experience.

“The main thing was meeting with media, travel agents and travel writers and promoting our business,” she said.

“You can’t buy that sort of promotion and it’s real.”

During the roadshow, the four buses stopped off at different destinations, including Brisbane, Melbourne, Geelong, Aubrey, Canberra and Sydney.

Each of the business operators took a brag book along with them during the six days and Linda’s was filled with photographs of the floods, examples of services and businesses around the Gemfields, and pictures of beautiful gems that have been found in the area.

She also displayed photographs of the Blue Gem Caravan Park, which was severely flooded in January, causing damage and distress to its residents and owners.

“What they really wanted to know was the recovery story after the floods, though,” Linda said.

Perhaps the most miraculous post-flood story is that a new deposit of gems has been found at Retreat Creek, which is directly behind the caravan park.

“At Easter people started bringing gems up to Pat’s Gems to have them valued that they had found there,” Linda said.

“There are some really big stones being found.”

Those stones have ranged from 20 to 100 carats.

“You could always fossick and find bits and pieces there but this is exciting because it’s a new deposit that has been made,” Linda said.

The news of the new deposit has sparked interest among travellers and residents, as Linda said more and more people had been inquiring about the area over the phone to local businesses.

“It’s renewing an interest in fossicking,” she said.

“There are more people deciding to have a go.”

Linda said the roadshow and the newly found deposit were good news for this year’s tourist season, which usually kicked off around Easter and finished in September.

“The economic downturn and flooding affected our businesses to a huge extent, some up to 75%,” Linda said.

“We are really looking forward to seeing what this season brings.”

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