Shady Moreton Bay fig trees line the main street in Emerald, an attractive town at the hub of the Central Highlands. Emerald was established in 1879 as a service town while the railway from Rockhampton to the west was being constructed. Several fires ravaged the town in the mid-1900s, destroying much of this early history. The largest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere are nearby, where visitors can fossick for their own gems.
Central Highlands Visitor Information Centre, 3 Clemont St; (07) 4982 4142
Nearby national parks
Pioneer Cottage Complex: historic cottage and lock-up gaol with padded cells. There is also a church and a communications museum; Morton Park, Clermont St.
Botanic Gardens: walk around native display, herb garden and melaleuca maze. You can also visit a traditional bush chapel and ride the monorail; banks of Nogoa River.
Railway station: restored 1900 National Trust–classified station with attractive lacework and pillared portico; Clermont St.
Fossilised tree: 250 million years old; in front of town hall.
Mosaic pathway: 21 pictures depict 100 years of Emerald history; next to visitor centre.
Van Gogh Sunflower Painting: largest one (on an easel) in the world; Morton Park, Clermont St.
Sapphire gemfields To the west of Emerald is the largest sapphire-producing area in the Southern Hemisphere, incorporating Rubyvale, Sapphire, Anakie and Willows gemfields. The towns feature walk-in mines, fossicking parks, gem-faceting demonstrations, jewellers and museums. Obtain a licence and map of the mining areas from local stores or the Department of Natural Resources in Emerald to start fossicking. Rubyvale offers 4WD tours of gemfields including Tomahawk Creek; 43 km W.
Lake Maraboon/Fairbairn Dam: popular spot for watersports and fishing, especially for the red claw crayfish; 18 km S.
Capella: first town settled in the area. See its history at the Capella Pioneer Village. The Crafts Fair and Vintage Machinery Rally is held in Sept; 51 km NW.
Local cattle stations and farm stays: day tours in nearby area; details from visitor centre.
Campsites around town
Find out more
Rubyvale Caravan Park 48 kmThis camping area is a short stroll from the Rubyvale town centre, and is located within easy distance of tourist mines and fossicking areas. There are powered and unpowered sites, and a range of good facilities.... Find out more
Caravan parks around town
Blue Gem Tourist Park 45 kmFor those interested in trying their luck on the gemfields, this park is a good base. It forms part of a shop and service station complex and is centrally located in Sapphire on the banks of Retreat Creek, where... Find out more
Rest areas around town
Adjacent to the highway at the information centre in the middle of town.
Comet park area 41 km
Just off the highway at the Leichhardt Dig Tree memorial in the middle of town.
Anakie rest area 42 km
45km W of Emerald (L) or 125km E of Alpha (R)
Just off the highway at the junction of the turn-off into town.
Bluff park area 94 km
Adjacent to the highway among a few trees. On the east side of town.
Drummond Range park area 98 km
110km W of Emerald (R) or 60km E of Alpha (L)
Well off the highway at a lookout.
What's on around town
Sunflower Festival: Easter.