Dayboro to sparkle at gem show

Published 10:00am 5 February 2023

Dayboro to sparkle at gem show
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Those looking to marvel at unique and beautiful stones from across Australia and the world can head along to the 2023 National Gemboree event in Dayboro - the biggest lapidary, rock, fossil, crystal, mineral, gem and jewellery show in the country.

Visitors and hobbyists from all over Australia will head to the Dayboro Showgrounds over the Easter long weekend for the 59th national Gem and Mineral Show, hosted by the Queensland Lapidary and Allied Craft Clubs Association Inc.

President Les Hathaway says he is thrilled to bring the hugely popular event to the Moreton Bay Region for the first time.

“This unique event is held in a different state each year, meaning it only comes to Queensland every six years, so this year we are thrilled to bring the event to the Moreton Bay Region for the first time,” Les says.

“For the last 58 years the event has always been held in regional areas, meaning this will also be the first time Gemboree has been held in a metropolitan region near a capital city.

“It’s also a real boost for the area as Moreton Bay has four local lapidary clubs, which is exceptional because most towns or regions only have one club.”

The four-day event will be a colourful showcase of all the amazing things you can dig out of the ground, with plenty of trade stalls and tailgaters selling rough gem materials, finished jewellery and gemstones, mineral specimens, crystals, fossils and the latest lapidary equipment.

“If you’re looking for a great deal on a piece of jewellery, this will be the place to be,” Les explains.

“Here you will find stones and pieces of jewellery that are so unique that there will never be a copy.

“You can talk to the person who found the stone somewhere in Australia, take that stone or raw material to the person that cuts and polishes it before then going to see someone who can turn it into a lovely one-of-a-kind jewellery piece like a necklace or a bracelet.”

There will also be more than 1000 entries for the national competition, where gem lovers can enter their own home-made jewellery pieces, stones, fossils and more for judging, as well as demonstrations, lectures, displays, activities for the kids and giveaways.

“There will be a thunder egg hunt for the kids on Easter Sunday, and a lot of the market stalls will have lucky dips for the kids,” Les says.

“Kids can also try their hand at sieving so they can fossick for their own gems.

“There will also a major raffle with prizes totalling $5000.”

The 2023 Gemboree will be held from Friday, April 7 to Monday, April 10 at the Dayboro Showgrounds, located at 3512 Mt Mee Rd, Dayboro.

The event will be open 12-4pm on Friday, 9am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday, and 9am-3pm on Monday.

Entry is $10 for adults and $5 for concession card holders or students (must have card). Children under 12 are free.

View the gallery below for more photos. 

A lifelong passion

Les, who is a member of three lapidary clubs – Deception Bay, Caboolture and Townsville – says he became interested in lapidary as a child.

“When I was 12 I would go with my dad to the original Redcliffe club. He would ask if I wanted to go along and I would go and watch him polish and cut stones to make jewellery,” Les says.

“Dad then moved up towards Brisbane and became a member of the Gunyah Lapidary Club (in Wavell Heights) and again I followed suit.

“My dad also liked to go out fossicking. We would go down to Redcliffe Beach and Scarborough Beach to fossick for stones along the beachfront that we would use for polishing and making jewellery.”

Les says people are often surprised by the beautiful stones he finds right here on the peninsula.

“Redcliffe and Margate beach produce a white gem stone which is called a chalcedony, and a red stone that is called a carnelien, found at the beach in Scarborough,” Les explains.

“A lot of people don’t believe me when I say I found them right here in Redcliffe.

“The stones, when polished, are absolutely gorgeous.”

Les says he has never sold a piece of jewellery, but instead prefers to make items for his children and grandchildren.

“I find the stones, cut and polish them and then make the piece of jewellery. They have always been family giveaway items.”

Dayboro to sparkle at gem show
Above: Les Hathaway, who is a member of the Deception Bay and Caboolture lapidary clubs. 

Join a club to learn more skills

If you are interested in knowing more, there are four lapidary clubs in the Moreton Bay Region you can join.

These include the Bribie Island Gem and Fossicking Club Inc, the Caboolture Gem Club Inc, the Deception Bay Gem and Allied Craft Club Inc, and the Redcliffe Gem Club.

Les says joining a club is a great way to learn new skills and meet other gem aficionados.

“Most clubs have got faceting, grinding and polishing machines so you can make your own beautiful pendants,” Les says.

“There is also usually a silversmith area where you can learn to be a silversmith and make your own one-of-a-kind jewellery like necklaces or bracelets.

“Joining a club is a fantastic way to learn all these skills and it’s economical – membership can be between $30-$50 for the year depending on the club, and usually $5 to attend a session where you can use all of the equipment.

“It’s a lot of fun, you learn lots of new skills, and meet some great people.”

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