I've been to Australia aswell.
Six weeks of most beautifull scenery and amazing people.
I drove more then 7000Km in this awsome country on the lefst side of the road where I'm used to drive on the other side.
Together with my wife we visited many places picking for gold and gemstones together with very generous aussies.
I was burned to go and see Lightning Ridge to find gemstones in a small place called Rubyvale.
There, you're able to go into a mine and find your own sapphires and whatever comes along with it.
We found some natural zirconium and 137ct of sapphire, now that kicks you out of your socks!
The major part are just sapphire bombs but we have over 8ct of beautifull cut sapphires found in a pile of self digged 1200 pound of dirth in a shaft 30m down in earth.
Yes it was hard working and yes you've to pay for it ( 60,-Aus) for working 4 hours in this tunnel with a humidity of 85% BUT, I'll do it again in a heartbeat! and yes, I found some opals aswell in the tailings somewhere else.
If you realy want to know how it works, go for it and make the trip....it's a lifetime experience which you'll never forget EVER! Feel the humidity, taste your sweat and experience the hard work to find the little goodies you can buy so easely.