Emerald is a large, modern country town that was originally established in 1879 as a base for the building of the western railway. Initially a small service town supporting the local agricultural industry, Emerald is now considered the ‘hub’ of the Central Highlands.
Tours & Attractions
Emerald - 'Hub' of the Central Highlands
Emerald is a large, modern country town that was originally established in 1879 as a base for the building of the western railway. The township itself is not actually named after a gemstone but after ‘Emerald Downs’ Hill, a lush emerald green hill located on Emerald Downs, a property just north of town.
Initially a small service town supporting the local agricultural industry, Emerald is now considered the ‘hub’ of the Central Highlands. In 1972, the Emerald community welcomed the construction of Fairbairn Dam and the Emerald Irrigation Scheme which allowed for the significant development and expansion of agricultural practises within the region.
The construction of the Fairbairn Dam and its associated Lake Maraboon also initiated the commencement of large-scale coal mining within the Bowen Basin in 1977; which at present produces a significant proportion of Queensland’s total coal exports, shaping the township of Emerald into what you see today.
Visitors to Emerald are amazed at the myriad of colours of various roadside plantations they pass while on route to town. Colours range from fresh fields of white cotton to green pastures of chickpea, to red ‘seas’ of sorghum and endless brown fields of wheat.
The diverse agricultural industry within and surrounding Emerald draws many seasonal fruit-pickers to the region each year.
Once famous for its reputation as a major Sunflower producer, Emerald is now home to the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel located in Morton Park at the western end of Clermont Street (Capricorn Highway). The superstructure is 25 metres high with approximately 13.6 tonnes of steel involved in its construction. The painting celebrates the Central Highland's reputation as a major sunflower producer.
Emerald is also considered the ‘gateway’ to the world famous Sapphire Gemfields; the largest and one of the richest sapphire fields within the southern hemisphere. Fossickers from all over the world flock to Emerald to try their luck at finding a fortune.
Lake Maraboon is a holiday destination in itself with a selection of cabin, caravan and camping accommodation. The lake is stocked with eight different kinds of fish including barramundi, but is famous for the Red Claw Crayfish. Relax by the lake or take a swim. Picnic tables and free electric and wood barbecues are available.
Built in 1900 and restored in 1986, the National Trust listed Railway Station with its wrought iron lacework and pillared portico provides visitors with an ideal photo opportunity to capture Emerald past. At the Emerald Town Hall make sure you view the ancient fossilized tree, dated at over 250 million years old.
The ‘straw-bale’ Visitor Information Centre should be your first point-of-call while visiting Emerald; the friendly volunteer staff can provide you with all the information you will need to know when exploring Emerald and the surrounding Central Highlands.
- Medical Centre
- Dump Point
- Mechanical Repairs
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