Under the surface, our holiday out west was a a real gem

I HAVE found the ideal place to get away from the extreme heat of the summer.

It's about 60 metres underground, and the temperature's a constant 25 degrees, which suits me just fine.

My wife and I found this special, cool spot a couple of weeks ago when we took a trip out to the gemfields in the Central Highlands.

Not that my wife was all that comfortable. She suffers from a bit of claustrophobia and found the experience a little overwhelming, but - good on her - she got through what was an ordeal for her and came out the other side unscathed.

We had decided to go away for a couple of days and headed for the area around Emerald.

We arrived in Emerald in the early afternoon and had a quick look around, but our goal was to get out to the gemfields, so we sat on the side of Emerald's main street and sought some accommodation on the trusty mobile phone.

And off we set - another 40-odd minutes west and we turned off towards Rubyvale - and what a pleasant surprise we had.

The motel we'd chosen on the phone was great - very clean, nestled among the bush and very, very quiet.

After checking in we inquired about food and were told that the local pub was probably the only place.

Now we're not pub folk, so we approached the pub on the corner of the main street with a little trepidation.

It's a quaint place - a real gemfields pub. Log cabin style with lots of corrugated iron.

We ordered a drink each and sat down to take a look at the menu - a salad for my wife and a pasta dish for me. Both were wonderful and all fear left us in a flash.

We had a pretty good sleep and woke up to the sound of a few rosellas having a bit of a blue outside our bedroom window; but other than that there just wasn't a sound.

It was such a peaceful, quiet place.

Then for the big adventure. Just down the road from the motel was one of the many fossicking venues, but this one had more than that.

It was also the site of a mine, which was first opened in 1902 and closed in the 1980s.

It's now a tourist destination and it was a most fascinating hour we spent underground looking at the way mining was carried out way back then.

Our extremely well informed guide explained all there was to know about the mine and showed us some big sapphires which were still embedded into the walls of the mine.

We dutifully bought our fossicking buckets and ended up with about 20 small sapphires, and headed for home, very happy with our couple of days away.