More on the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of “Exercise Tiger” on Slapton Sands

Slapton “Sands” is, ironically, a pebble beach, in Devon. I first visited it in 2016 and noticed the large tank situated at the south end of Slapton Ley. This led me to undertake some research into the history of the beach during World War Two. On 28 April 1944, a large number of US servicemen were killed off Slapton Sands during preparations for the D-Day landings. I have set out the details of this in a previous Post.  The 75th Anniversary of this tragedy took place recently. The four photos at the top of this Post were taken during the Anniversary Ceremony by the US Embassy in London.

The following are reports of the Anniversary which include material on the beach, the Exercise in 1944, and the ceremonies that took place in 2019.

A BBC news report (1 minute 41 seconds long):

Another BBC Report (4 minutes 50 seconds long), with a cross-over to a live reporter on the scene:

CBS News Report (2 minutes 47 seconds long):

Video clip of the Ceremony on Slapton Sands, from Devon Live (31 minutes 19 seconds), along with an article – click here.

Shorter video clip (42 seconds) of the Ceremony, from Devon Live, with a more detailed historical article – click here.

One of the moving speeches from the Anniversary Ceremony can be found here (7 minutes 48 seconds), made by US Rear Admiral David Manero (Defense Attache, US Embassy, London), along with other video clips related to Exercise Tiger.  

Previous TumbleStone Posts on Slapton Sands include: Slapton Sands, Part One: A Visit, Mid-2016Slapton Sands, Part Two: The Protective Significance of the Shingle BeachSlapton Sands, Part Three: The Historical Significance of a Shingle Beach – The 1943-44 EvacuationSlapton Sands, Part Five: Beach Stones in the Rough; and Slapton Sands, Part Six: The Beach Stones Polished.


Musical Pieces on TumbleStone, Numbers 21 to 25

Previous Posts about music on TumbleStone dealt with the first five, the next five, and numbers 11 to 20. What follows are the next five.

21) “Love By Satellite” – An old friend who I have not seen for many years, David Parker, is a musician and I stumbled across this video of a song of his on YouTube and just had to Post it. “Love By Satellite” has been described as “a sweet, country-tinged song”. David has been a key figure behind the Titirangi Music Festival, which is in its 13th year in 2019. Currently, David is part of The Nukes, a ukelele trio.

22) “‘The Wild Places’ – Where I feel blessed” – I first paid some attention to Dan Fogelberg because he had done a cover of one of Bruce Cockburn’s songs, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”. It appears on his 1990 Album “Wild Places”, which is my favourite Album of his. This TumbleStone Post uses the opening two pieces on the Album, the instrumental “Aurora Nova” followed by the song “The Wild Places”. The Post includes photos of a number of the great wild places I visit to collect stones or experience geological landscapes. Dan Fogelberg was from Illinois in the USA,  and made his first music recordings in the early 1970s. He is perhaps best known for his 1980s songs, such as “Longer” (1979), “Same Old Lang Syne” (1980), and “Leader of the Band” (1982). He died in 2007 of prostate cancer.

23) “‘How long?’ 8 November 2016” – This Post was written on the day that Donald Trump was elected US President. The song, “Idea #21 (Not Too Late)”, is by US duo Over the Rhine (see #3 in the Post The First Five Musical Pieces on TumbleStone), from its 2003 Album “Ohio”.

24) “Great Wall” – One of the impacts of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake was a great rupture of the landscape, creating a “wall” across it. Runrig’s “Wall of China”, from their 2001 Album “The Stamplng Ground”, seemed fitting. On Runrig, see #7 in the Post The Second Five Musical Pieces on TumbleStone.

25) “15 March 2019 – Shock and Grief in New Zealand” – This is one of my very few Posts not about stones in some way. The events of 15 March 2019, the “mosque shootings”, were so shocking, and the national response so heartening, that I felt it important to do this. I finished the Post with the Post the “haka version” of the national anthem.

Musical Pieces on TumbleStone, Numbers 11 to 20

The first ten TumbleStone Posts which included music in them are listed in two previous Posts (1-5 and 6-10). These are the next ten.

11) “And the thought becomes the memory…” – This line from “Maybe Tomorrow” by the New Zealand pop group Goldenhorse shares this Post with simply one photo of a small polished translucent agate pebble from Birdlings Flat. Whose thought (of what) becomes this stone which becomes a memory (of itself, or of the original thought)? I don’t know, I just love the song and its melody and tunefulness, just like I love the agates from Birdlings Flat. “Maybe Tomorrow” is from the 2002 Album “Riverhead” and was the most played local song on NZ radio in 2003. The group produced its last song in 2007. Goldenhorse’s lead vocalist Kirsten Morrell initially trained to sing classical music and this is often reflected in her vocals. 

12) “Soul of Southland…” – A Southland stone, a Southland song. John Grenell is New Zealand’s best known country singer. He grew up in Central Otago and Dunedin, and recorded his first album in 1963. He originally sang as John Hore, using his stepfather’s surname, but later changed to his original family surname of Grenell. “Soul of Southland” comes from his 2013 Album “Welcome to My World”. John lives at Whitecliffs, on a Canterbury foothills farm, and breeds Appaloosa horses. He is interested in the outdoor environment, particularly high country tussock and watershed areas. The Whitecliffs Family Music Festival was hosted by John and his wife Deirdre for many years on the farm. My mother’s favourite New Zealand singer was John Hore. He is also the only songwriter I know to include Waikaka (my tiny hometown) in the lyrics of a song. He wrote the New Zealand version of “I’ve Been Everywhere” with local place names in 1966 and although he sometimes changes the place-names, at least one version includes Waikaka:

…I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere man
I’ve crossed the desert bare man,
I’ve breathed the mountain air man
Of travel I’ve had my share man
I’ve been everywhere

I’ve been to
Kaharoa Whangaroa Akaroa Motueka
Taramoa Benmore Pongaroa Horoeka
Rimutaka Te Karaka Whangarei
Nuhaka Waimahaka Motuhura Waikaka…

13) “A Stepping Stone…” – “Windstar Aotearoa” is a song that has within it a reference to a stone. I’m always on the lookout for them. The song was written and sung by the New Zealand country singer John Grenell (see # 12 above), featured on his 1991 Album “Windstar-Aotearoa”and also on his 2013 Album “Welcome to My World”. In the CD liner notes, Grenell notes that he wrote the song with New Zealand’s celebration of its sesquicentennial in 1990 in mind, 150 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. He goes on to write: “I dedicate [this song] to the WINDSTAR FOUNDATION folks, which is a movement of people and friends whose purpose is to educate and demonstrate appropriate technologies in food production, harmonious lifestyles, enabling people to operate at their highest potential in an environmentally conscious manner.” 

14) “You run from the river, when it long ran over you…” – Dave Dobbyn is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful recording musicians. As he grew older, his music became less about drinking and more about thinking. His songs reflect many aspects of New Zealand identity and landscape, and a number of them have been used to represent the country in many different contexts. As Nick Bollinger has put it: “His songs are sung at weddings and funerals – not just those of everyday citizens but also civic leaders. They are performed for visiting dignitaries, hollered spontaneously at boozy sing-alongs, adopted as campaign songs for major sporting events. At different times, in different situations, he seems to speak – or at least sing – for the whole country.” This song, “Beside You”, was first recorded in 1999 on Dobbyn’s Album “The Islander”. It was recorded again in 2000 in the Album “Together In Concert – Live”, from a concert tour Dobbyn undertook with Tim Finn and Bic Runga. This TumbleStone Post links the reference to a river in the lyrics to the river that ran through the farm on which I grew up at Waikaka.

15) “When the stars go blue…” – I first heard this song performed by the Corrs with U2’s Bono. Then I learned that it had been written by Ryan Adams, a US alternative country singer-songwriter, and I enjoyed his version when he sang it. It was then natural to link it to a blue stone. “When the stars go blue” was first released on the 2001 album “Gold”. 

16) “Step outside, take a look at the stars…” – Central to this Post is the idea that stones are in stars and stars are in stones, taken from the book “The Planet in a Pebble: A Journey into Earth’s Deep History” (2010) by British geologist Jan Zalasiewicz. The song used in the Post is “Making Contact” by the Canadian musician, Bruce Cockburn. This song appeared on his 1984 Album “Stealing Fire”. Cockburn is my long-time favourite, having discovered him when I was studying in Vancouver, Canada, in the mid-1980s. I used his songs in my lectures from time to time. One in particular called “Call It Democracy” I used in a course on development issues in Latin America. I even presented an academic conference paper on Cockburn in 1992, “Waiting for a Miracle: Geography and Bruce Cockburn’s Political Pop” (see photos below). In recognition of his lifelong contributions to Canada music, culture and social activism, Cockburn has been awarded (among many many other things) seven honorary doctorates, received the Order of Canada in 1983, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2011, the Canadian Postal Service issued a Bruce Cockburn stamp (photo below), stating “Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn is best-known for using his music to bring attention to important issues, such as politics, poverty and the environment, believing that songs can be a catalyst for social change.”  

17) “Yellow” – A song called “Yellow” naturally links to a stone with yellow in it. “Yellow” appeared on Coldplay‘s debut Album “Parachutes” (2000). 

18) “Nothing but the sun…” – There is a particular kind of quartzite stone that I found on Birdlings Flat that looks like it has gold foil flowing through it. It is as if the sun shines within it. The song “Nothing But the Sun” is by Runrig (see # 7 in The Second Five Musical Pieces on TumbleStone) from their 1995 Album “Mara”.

19) “Isn’t that what friends are for?” – This is perhaps my most favourite Bruce Cockburn song (see #18 above). It is from his 1999 Album “Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu”. Cockburn made the following comments about the origins of the song: “The ‘you’… is my friend Jonatha Brooke who’s formally of a group called The Story… Jonatha and I had been going through similar things at a distance from each other, sort of upheavals in our respective lives, and comparing notes over the phone for a while and we finally actually got a chance after many months [to meet]. One of the weird things about being a touring musician is that you make friends with other people who do what you do but you only see them when you sort of flash past each other waving on the bus, or at the occasional festival. Once in a while you get lucky enough that you actually end up in the same place at the same time, with time to spend. Eventually this happened with me and Jonatha. While I was waiting for her to show up at the designated rendezvous point, I ended up writing that song based on our phone conversations and a few other bits and pieces from my notebook.” 

20)“‘It Dawned on Me’ – I’ll light a beacon” – What do you do with stones once you have polished them? One of the things you can do is put a candle in a glass container and surround it with stones. I used a Dave Dobbyn (see #14 above) song with a line about lighting a beacon. “Dawned on Me” came from Dobbyn’s 1994 Album “Twist”.

The next five musical pieces used in TumbleStone Posts can be found here.

The Second Five Musical Pieces on TumbleStone

The first five TumbleStone Posts which included music in them are listed in a previous Post. These are the next five.

6) “‘Maralitja’ (Crocodile Man)” – This song is used in this Post in relation to a polished stone that reminded me of the rough tough skin of the crocodile. A song by the Australian group Yothu Yindi, it comes from the Album “Tribal Voice” (1991). Formed in 1986, Yothu Yindi included both aborigine and non-aborigine members, under the leadership of Mandawuy Yunupingu. Their music blends aboriginal styles with modern rock. The group is best known for “Treaty“, written by Australian musician Paul Kelly and Yothu Yindi members. Mandawuy Yunupingu said about its origins: “Bob Hawke visited the Territory. He went to this gathering in Barunga. And this is where he made a statement that there shall be a treaty between black and white Australia. Sitting around the camp fire, trying to work out a chord to the guitar, and around that camp fire, I said, ‘Well, I heard it on the radio. And I saw it on the television.’ That should be a catchphrase. And that’s where ‘Treaty’ was born.” 

7) “Day in a Boat: The other world was here…” – Runrig’s song comes from its 1995 Album “Mara”. This folk-rock band was formed in the early 1970s in the Scottish Islands and they have maintained key parts of their Island identity – the frequent use of the Gaelic language and an awareness of the region’s historical, political and environmental issues. “Run-rig” was a set of narrow strips that were part of the traditional semi-communal farming system of the Highlands and Islands.

8) “I’ll put a pebble in my shoe…” – A song from “Godspell”, the 1973 movie based on a stage show. “Godspell” is structured as a series of parables, primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew. This is the only song I know of at this time that actually refers to a “pebble”. The pebble is itself a parable, of a reminder for the dare to walk along the path of faith.

9) “Scatterlings of Africa” – Juluka was a multi-racial South African group formed in 1969 by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu. It blended Zulu musical styles with rock music. Clegg had learned Zulu dancing when young and often performed it on stage, and became known as the “White Zulu”. He also trained as an anthropologist and wrote several academic papers on Zulu music and dance. Juluka was naturally very unpopular with the government of Apartheid South Africa. When it disbanded in 1985, Clegg went on to form Savuka a year later. “Scatterlings of Africa” was on Juluka’s 1982 Album “Scatterlings” and was re-recorded to more international success by Savuka 1987 in their Album “Third World Child”. Clegg wrote a tribute to Nelson Mandela, the song “Asimbonanga” (meaning “We have never seen him”). In a concert in Frankfurt in 1999, Mandela surprised Clegg on stage. Suffering pancreatic cancer, Clegg performed his last scheduled tour concert in October 2018.

10) “The song that is deep in the soul of all people…” – This is another Runrig song, this time from their 1993 Album “Amazing Things”. See #7 above for brief comments on Runrig.

The next ten musical pieces used in TumbleStone Posts can be found here.

The First Five Musical Pieces on TumbleStone


The following TumbleStone Posts are the first five which included music, using embedded YouTube clips. These were all posted in April 2016. Often the music is simply linked to a characteristic of a stone, especially a colour or a pattern.

1) “Gabriel’s Stone: A Musical Meditation” – This Post uses “Gabriel’s Oboe”, written by Ennio Morricone, an instrumental piece from the movie “The Mission” (1986), one of my top ten rated movies. “Gabriel’s Oboe” is played by the Munich Radio Orchestra conducted by Ennio Morricone, in a live concert in Munich, 2005.

2) “A Touch of ‘Blue’…” – Lucinda William’s song, “Blue”, refers in this Post to the blue flashes within a polished stone. The song is off Williams’ 2001 Album “Essence” which heralded her move from country to more alternative folk-rock. Her scratchy and tired vocal suits the song perfectly, the lyrics having been described as “heartbreaking laconic poetry”. Williams’ best-known song is perhaps the lively “Passionate Kisses“, while some of her later work could be described as darker and more angry.

3) “Changes Come…” – This is the final song on Disc One of the two-disc Album “Ohio” by Over The Rhine. Over the Rhine is an Ohio-based band, the core of which is the husband-and-wife team of pianist/guitarist/bassist Linford Detweiler and vocalist/guitarist Karin Bergquist. The band is named after the Cincinnati, Ohio neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine. Their style has been described as “an eclectic mix of folksy art-pop and rock with occasional excursions into jazz”. There is a down-to-earth subtle Christian sensibility to their music – “The light, the dark both running through me…”, something that can be seen in stones as well as people’s lives. My most favourite song of all time is one of theirs: “I want you to be my love”. Rated not far behind is their “Born“.

4) “Raining on the Rock…” – John Williamson is an Australian folk singer with the ability to convey with insight and power the landscapes and people of his country. His musicianship with the guitar is outstanding. “Raining on the Rock” is one of his strongest and best-known songs, released in 1987 on the Album “Mallee Boy”. Sometimes Williamson can be wickedly funny (“Old Man Emu”, “Bill the Cat” and “The Vasectomy Song”) or sweetly romantic (“Cootamundra Wattle”, “You and My Guitar” and “Special Girl”) or deeply patriotic (“A Flag of our Own”, “True Blue” and “Diggers of the Anzac”) but strongly critical of war (“And the Band Played Waltzing Watilda”, “Only 19” and “We Will Stop the War”), and a powerful environmental advocate  (“Goodbye Blinky Bill”, “This is Australia Calling”, “Dingo” and “Rip Rip Woodchip”). I saw John Williamson having coffee in a mall in Hamilton one day – he was in town to give a concert. I approached him and explained that I appreciated his music, used some of his songs in my lectures, and that I called my first Dexter-cross calf “Special Girl”. He generously invited me to sit with him for a while.

5) “Summer Comes…”: This phrase, capturing the summer-like light from a yellow and white quartzite, comes from The Decemberists’ song, “June Hymn” (from 2011 Album “The King is Dead”). The Decemberists are an American indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. Colin Meloy provides their rather distinctive voice, at times drone-like. The band’s name refers to the Decembrist revolt, an 1825 insurrection in Imperial Russia. Meloy has stated that the name is also meant to invoke the “drama and melancholy” of the month of December. Some of their songs can be described as epic story-telling, others are whimsical, or highly stylised, often literate, and then there are upbeat, often lush, songs, like “June Hymn”.  The Urban Dictionary calls The Decemberists “the most excellent historical/literary indie rock/pop band that ever hit the airwaves”.

The second five musical pieces used in TumbleStone Posts can be found here.

“Valley’s deep and the mountain’s so high…”

“Landscape stone”, collected from a Riverton Beach in 2018, polished mid-2019. I can see valleys and mountains there (the line in the Post title is from the start of “Hymn” by Barclay James Harvest). Such intriguing colours and patterns, layered and criss-crossed with lines of silica. Possibly petrified wood, possibly jasper, possibly something else, mysterious… Reminds me of valleys in the distance, of mountains in the mist, a Japanese watercolour landscape…

Barclay James Harvest, the group that sings this song, is an English “progressive rock” band, formed in 1966. To obtain their name, each of the band members wrote single words on pieces of paper which were drawn out of a hat one by one until only three were left: James, a guy who used to sing with the band, Harvest because they were living in a farmhouse, and Barclay after the bank, because they aspired to make money. These were then rearranged until they arrived at the best-sounding name – “Barclay James Harvest”. “Hymn” appeared on their 1977 album, “Gone to Earth”, and my wife has a vinyl copy of it. 

On its website, the Band says this about “Hymn”: Originally titled “Hymn For A White Lady”, the song is primarily about the dangers of drug abuse, contrasting their illicit thrill with the spiritual “high” of Christianity, although many DJs and listeners have taken it for a straightforward Christmas song. The now traditional shouts of “yeah!” from the fans at the finale of the band’s live shows date back to early performances of the song, where John dedicated it to rock stars who had fallen victim to drugs, saying “let’s hear it for Jimi Hendrix… Paul Kossoff… Janis Joplin…” etc., and fans responded with a roar of approval.

One of the more famous performances of “Hymn” was at a 1980 free concert in front of the Reichstag in West Berlin, with an estimated audience of 250,000 – the version from YouTube posted below. They were the first Western rock band to perform in an open-air concert in East Germany (after Glasnost had begun in the Eastern bloc but over two years before the Berlin Wall fell), playing in Treptower Park, East Berlin in 1987 to more than 170,000 people. 

“Hymn” by Barclay James Harvest

Valley’s deep and the mountain’s so high
If you want to see God you’ve got to move on the other side
You stand up there with your head in the clouds
Don’t try to fly you know you might not come down
Don’t try to fly, dear God, you might not come down

Jesus came down from Heaven to earth
The people said it was a virgin birth
Jesus came down from Heaven to earth
The people said it was a virgin birth

He told great stories of the Lord
And said he was the saviour of us all
He told great stories of the Lord
And said he was the saviour of us all

For this we killed him, nailed him up high
He rose again as if to ask us why
Then he ascended into the sky
As if to say in God alone we soar
As if to say in God alone we fly

Valley’s deep and the mountain’s so high
If you want to see God you’ve got to move on the other side
You stand up there with your head in the clouds
Don’t try to fly you know you might not come down
Don’t try to fly, dear God, you might not come down

The original recording (1971), with a slightly different sound (no single leading vocal, more keyboards):


The “Elusive Sapphire” of Gemstone Beach

The brief information provided by local tourist sites on the types of stones that can be found on Gemstone Beach often mentions sapphires. “Part of Te Waewae Bay, Gemstone Beach is a popular destination for rock hunters and visitors interested in geology, ‘gems’ (including sapphires) are known to be found” (Riverton website). “A few hours beachcombing could easily yield gems such as hydrogrossular, jasper, fossil worm casts and the elusive sapphire” (Heritage Trail website). I’ve been aware for some time of this view that sapphires could be found on Gemstone Beach. But in my many visits there, they have always been truly elusive to me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. And would I know one if if I did? What do they look like? How rare are they? Has anyone actually found one?

Then last year my sister from Gore showed me a newspaper cutting. It was a short piece on Gemstone Beach by columnist Lloyd Esler in the “Southland Times” in March 2018 which also included a photograph of two sapphires from the Beach (see photo at top of this Post, far left hand side). Esler wrote: “The best known of the ‘gemstones’ are grossular garnets which are distinguished by their gloss and weight, and sapphires with their characteristic colour and extreme hardness… The nearest thing to a ‘precious’ stone from the beach is a sapphire but these ones are not gem quality.” The Riverton Museum Te Hikoi also has three small stones labelled “Sapphire” in its display of stones that can be found on Gemstone Beach (see photo at top, second from left). And the photo at the top of this Post, second from right, is a photo of an “Orepuki sapphire” from the Flickr page of the Otago Rock and Mineral Club. It is accompanied by the following description: “The blue colour is sapphire which is combined within the structure of a hydrogrossular garnet”. The photo at top, far right, is is an example of a cut precious gem sapphire, but a lot of naturally occurring sapphire is nowhere near such quality.

The New Zealand geologist Jocelyn Thornton produced an excellent booklet “Gemstones” (1985), now freely available online.  It has a page on “Beryl, tourmaline, corundum (ruby and sapphire)”. Two samples of sapphire are photographed: “Rare blue sapphire occurs with the tourmaline at Richmond Flat… Even rarer are waterworn pebbles found on the beach on at Orepuki in Southland. Their source is unknown.” She includes a photo of an Orepuki sapphire (circled on the photo at far left below). In her book, “The Field Guide to New Zealand Geology” (2003), Thornton refers to the blue corundum at Richmond Flat in Nelson as “dull” and “extremely rare” (page 49). She also notes that “ruby rock” or Goodletite, found only in a small area near Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island, sometimes contains tiny crystals of “bluish sapphire” (page 70). Below, second from left, is a map of Goodletite distribution from a 1996 article in the “Journal of Petrology” by R. Grapes and K. Palmer (“Ruby-sapphire-chromium-mica-tourmaline rocks from Westland, New Zealand“) and below, second from right, is a photo of Goodletite from The rock is named after William Goodlet, who recognised it as an unusual stone when visiting the Rimu gold workings in 1892. ( states that Goodletite has also been found at “the Mont D’Or Mine at Ross, Olderog Creek, Whitcombe Valley, and the Taipo River”.) The photo on the far right below is a slice of Goodletite made into jewelry.

What is sapphire? Sapphire is a variety of corundum (see photos below, the two to the left), which is a crystalline form of natural aluminium oxide (Al2O3) (a metamorphic variant of bauxite) and its purest colourless form is very rare. Composed of only aluminium and oxygen, it requires a growth environment free of silicon to form. It was not until the 18th century that it was clearly established that sapphires and rubies are the same mineral. As Gemporia points out, various trace elements that enter the corundum during its formation produce all the exquisite and unique varieties of sapphire. Blue sapphire is coloured by the presence of titanium and iron, for example, and it is the balance of these impurities within the stone that causes such a wide range of blue tones, from bright, clear cornflower blues to deep dark midnight blues. Titanium and iron need make up only a few hundredths of one per cent of the corundum to make a typical blue sapphire. As Lin Sutherland in “Gemstones of the Southern Continents” (1991) notes, when these two elements replace aluminium atoms and sit side by side, they share their electric charges. “This energy state absorbs a broad band of the light, leaving only blue and violet blue. If the two elements sit slightly further apart, the absorption changes and lets through blue-green” (page 105). Iron alone can lead to yellow and green colours, orange hues need iron and chromium, and vanadium causes purple hues. The photo on the far right below, from Sutherland’s “Gemstones of the Southern Continents” (1991), illustrates the wide variety of coloured sapphires from one area in New South Wales. 

Sutherland observes: “When chromium exceeds about 1 per cent in the mineral, atoms of this large and heavy element start to strongly absorb the shorter wavelengths of light. So red becomes the dominant colour. This earns the mineral [corundum] a new variety name, ruby” (page 44). Two photos of natural ruby crystals are below, left and middle, with a cut gem of ruby to the right. states that Corundum is a very hard, tough, and stable mineral. For all practical purposes, it is the hardest mineral after diamond, making it the second hardest mineral with a rating on the Mohs scale of 9 out of 10. It is also unaffected by acids and most environments. Gem quality corundum is found in streams as its high density causes pieces to deposit within one local region and its hardness makes it resistant to weathering (Minerals Education Coalition). Non-gem corundum material is used as an abrasive because of its high hardness. 

During my last visit to Gemstone Beach, in mid-June 2019, I met up with a fellow stone collector on the way back to the car park. He turned out to be Jack Geerlings from Winton. I had heard of him earlier this year when I had seen some of his polished stones for sale at the Good Studio, an art and gift gallery in Riverton (photo below). Jack has been ill and was on his first trip to Gemstone Beach for some weeks when I came across him. I was interested to hear about his work and we chatted for a while. Jack mentioned he had once found a nice sapphire on Gemstone Beach, after a small landslide had brought down part of the cliff there. He kindly asked if I would like to visit him and see his stones and workshop, and I jumped at the opportunity. I drove up to Winton two days later. Jack showed me his extensive collection of stones and his workshop. Right at the beginning, I asked to see his sapphire (3rd and 4th photos below) and he showed me two other small ones he had collected as well (5th and 6th photos below).

One of the things Jack talked about was the Rock Clubs he had been associated with. He has been actively involved with the Otago Rock and Mineral Club, for example, and it now seems to me that it is his large sapphire stone that is in the photograph on the Otago Rock and Mineral Club Flickr page. Jack was very generous with his time and shared the stories behind many of his stones. He allowed me to takes photos of his large and diverse stone collection, which includes many agates and a lot of petrified wood.

As a result of seeing and handling Jack’s fine sapphire stone, I now stand a better chance of recognising one should I stumble across it on Gemstone Beach in the future. However, “rare” and “elusive” are likely to remain its key characteristics.