Agates the star at a rock show with polish

BRIAN Salmon is not a gem collector but the agates off Moonlight Head near Princetown have proved irresistible.

The Laang dairy farmer is a keen angler and recreational cray fisherman and dives for the gemstones in a rough patch of ocean.

While he said collecting the agates was “just something to do while fishing and cray fishing”, Mr Salmon does spend hours tumbling and polishing the stones to reveal their full beauty.

Much of the shoreline at Moonlight Head has been picked cleaned of agates by fossickers over the decades. But Mr Salmon’s willingness to dive offshore for them meant he has been able to assemble one of the biggest collections of Moonlight agates.

He has put his collection on display as part of the biennial gem show being staged by the Warrnambool Gem Club this weekend at Warrnambool Primary School on Jamieson Street.

Moonlight gemstones are found throughout the world and are created in volcanic conditions from liquefied silica. Mr Salmon said he liked revealing the intricate patterns of fines lines, bubbles and swirls in the gemstones.

The most common colours were green, blue and amber with white stripes but finding rare purple, red and black ones were “the carrot”, he said.

Another collection on show is that of Sharon and Mark Sacco of Ballarat, which includes gypsum crystal formations in many weird and wonderful shapes.

Mr Sacco collects some of the gypsum formations from a lake at Chillingollah near Swan Hill where the gypsum leaches into the lake from subterranean calcium deposits.

The gypsum crystals attach themselves to any manner of objects in the lake from branches to boots, beer bottles and sheep’s skulls, to create striking shapes.

Apart from numerous displays of gems, minerals and crystals, the show also features sales and demonstrations of gem cutting and silverwork.

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