Nicknamed the Sapphire City, Inverell is in the heart of gemstone country in the New England region of NSW, where the discovery of sapphires dates backs to 1854. Try your luck fossicking for sapphires and other gems near this elegant town on the banks of the Macintyre River.

One of the world’s richest sapphire deposits was mined in nearby Kings Plains. Sapphires are gem varieties of the mineral corundum and form in several colours. Admire polished gems in jewellery shops such as Inverell Jewellers and Billabong Blue Sapphire.

A family fossicking at a creek, near Inverell

You can fossick for sapphires, gems and quartz crystals in various locations, including Billabong Blue Sapphire Fossicking Park and 7 Oaks Sapphire Fossicking, next to pretty Frazer Creek. Many fossicking sites allow camping, and are great spots for bushwalking and birdwatching.

There are lots of places to stay in Inverell, which is 50 minutes’ drive west of Glen Innes and 90 minutes northwest of Armidale. Other things to do include a visit to Inverell Art Gallery, found in two colonial buildings, and the National Transport Museum, full of classic and vintage cars.

The 1841-built wooden Grove Homestead, Inverell Pioneer Village

Inverell Pioneer Village has a collection of historical buildings dating from 1841. You can pick up brochures and maps from the Inverell Visitor Information Centre. There are scenic walking tracks in the Goonoowigall State Conservation Area, home to hundreds of wildlife species.

Lake Inverell Reserve is a popular spot for picnics, BBQs and fishing. A scenic drive north is Kwiambal National Park, where there are more bushwalking tracks, as well as mountain bike trails and top spots for fishing and camping. Try river fishing on the Slippery Rock walking track.