It was a lot warmer this morning so we were in short sleeve tops immediately after showers.
We got off to an early start today as the last section of the gravel road into Takarakka Bush Resort is effectively one lane, and we knew that most vans headed out early so as not to confront anyone coming in later in the day. Even though we hit the road at 8.30 am, after we had been through the single lane gravel section of the road we did see some vans coming in – at 9.00 am mind you. There was huge potential for problems behind us as outgoing met incoming!
The 40 kms from Takarakka was actually quite OK as a drive as long as we took it easy. Some of the scenery was magnificent. As expected, the friendly cattle were on the road to greet us again.
Once back on the highway, our first stop for coffee was at Rolleston. We found a nice little spot at Beazley Park which the bonus of a dump point nearby. Takarakka didn’t have a dump point so we made use of the facilities, as did another couple who we spoke to and had also stopped for morning coffee. We were soon joined by several other vans wishing to use the dump point, and a couple of drivers didn’t even turn off their engines. Their urgency spoilt the serenity somewhat.
A bit further up along the Dawson Highway we pulled over for a short break at the Virgin Rock Rest Area, 2 kms north of Springsure. Ann took some photos of the fantastic scenery. This was a designated free camping area and there was one small campervan that looked as though they were already set for the day and possibly night.
Back on the highway it was another 70 kms or so to Emerald. It reminded us a bit of Kalgoorlie in that it’s a mining town with many modern facilities and a heritage background. Emeralds aren’t actually mined in Emerald. Primary industries include coal, sapphire and gem mining, cotton, wheat, maize, sorghum, sunflower, beef, citrus, peanuts and more. The Fairbairn Dam just south of Emerald was opened in 1972 and is a major water resource for irrigated crop production.
Emerald was once famous as a major sunflower producer and is now home to the world’s biggest Van Gough ‘Sunflower’ painting. It is also apparently the world’s largest painting on an easel. It stands 25 metres high.
After a quick look around Emerald we had a quick lunch in the van before venturing back to the highway.
Another 44 kms up the Capricorn Highway we turned off onto the Central Highland Tourist Route and soon came to the small town of Sapphire. The Sapphire area boasts having the largest and richest sapphire fields in the world. There are many small underground mines and there are tours available. There are also places where you can buy a bucket of “wash” to sort through yourself and hopefully make a small fortune in gemstones.
We soon settled in at the Sapphire Reserve free camp along with several other caravans and motorhomes. Some of the locals came to join us as well.
Today has been a rather longer day for us so it will be an early night so we can hit the road refreshed tomorrow.