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Emerald

Emerald is a large, modern country town that was established in 1879 as a base for the building of the western railway. The town is named after 'Emerald Downs Hill', a lush emerald green hill located just north of town. Emerald is now considered the hub for the Central Highlands and the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields: the largest, and one of the richest sapphire fields in the southern hemisphere.

In 1972, the construction of Fairbairn Dam and the Emerald Irrigation Scheme allowed for the significant development and expansion of agriculture across the region. The dam construction, and its associated Lake Maraboon, also initiated large-scale coal mining within the Bowen Basin in 1977, which at present, produces a significant proportion of Queensland's total coal exports.

Fairbairn Dam 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.

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. Adjacent you'll find the 'straw bale' Visitor Information Centre where the friendly volunteer staff can provide information on exploring Emerald and the surrounding Central Highlands.

Built in 1900 and restored in 1986, the National Trust listed Railway Station with its wrought iron lacework and pillared portico provides visitors with great photo opportunities. At the Emerald Town Hall view an ancient fossilised tree aged 250 million years.

Emerald, Central Highlands Area
Queensland
Australia

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Minerva Hills National Park

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
A relatively small National Park near Springsure in Central Queensland, Minerva Hills is dominated by Mount Boorambool, rising 600 metres above sea level, and the larger cliff fringed Mount Zamia (560 metres), which offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Named after the Minerva Hills Volcanics, these mountains are some of the oldest in a line of volcanoes across the eastern Australian continent - dating back some 20 million years. The rich variety of plants provide habitat for much wildlife. Look for eastern grey kangaroos, wallaroos and several different wallabies throughout the park. Spotlighting at night may reward with a sighting of the elusive sugar-glider or the larger greater-glider. The park is also home to the locally rare fawn-footed melomies and the little known pebble-mound mouse. Fred Gorge picnic area has wood barbecues, toilets, limited drinking water and shelter sheds. Picnic tables are provided at the Springsure and Eclipse lookouts. Camping is not permitted.

Virgin Rock

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
Virgin Rock, which is situated four kilometres from Springsure is on the eastern side of Mount Zamia and has a naturally formed likeness to the Virgin Mary and Child. The spectacular cliffs are floodlit at night and can be viewed from the Lions Park. The formation is amazing and a must see when travelling to Carnarvon Gorge.

Nuga Nuga National Park and Lake Nuga Nuga

Rolleston, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
Lake Nuga Nuga (adjacent to Nuga Nuga National Park) is the largest natural water body within the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt. It provides a valuable habitat for waterbirds, and in the right season flowering waterlilies are a sight to behold. The lake can dry up in times of drought. Bird watchers will find the lake a haven for pelicans, swans and numerous water birds. Lake Nuga Nuga National Park contains Mount Warinilla (offering views over the lake and park) and protects remnants of dry rainforest scrub in a area that has been extensively cleared. A bush camping site, with no facilities, is located in the park on the banks of Lake Nuga Nuga. As this park is remote, be sure to bring adequate supplies of food, water and fuel.

Fairbairn Dam, Lake Maraboon

Emerald, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
Fairbairn Dam and Lake Maraboon are holiday destinations in themselves! The lake is stocked with eight different kinds of fish including barramundi, but is famous for the Red Claw Crayfish. You can relax by the lake, take a swim or try your hand at waterskiing. Picnic tables and free electric and wood barbecues are available.

The Art Gallery

Injune, Maranoa Area
Free Entry
Be ready to be awed by what awaits you on this walk in Carnarvon Gorge National Park, as The Art Gallery contains some of the finest Aboriginal rock art in Australia. Just 5.6 kilometres from the trailhead, at the junction of Kamoloo Creek, a signposted access track leaves the main walking trail upstream of crossing number 10, providing a gentle climb to the escarpment base where the site is located. Boardwalks, interpretive signs and seating facilities provide optimum conditions for visitors to appreciate this diverse range of Aboriginal artwork without endangering it. This extensive gallery contains more than 600 stencils and 1300 engravings. Aboriginal rock art on the sandstone overhangs is a fragile reminder of the Aboriginal people who used the gorge for thousands of years for ceremonies and rituals.

Spyglass Peak

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
Spring-fed Nogoa River and Louisa Creek wind through a picturesque broad valley beneath craggy sandstone outcrops in the Salvator Rosa section of Carnarvon National Park. At the western edge of Central Queensland's sandstone belt, Salvator Rosa contains deeply eroded and spectacular rock formations, such as Spyglass Peak and the Sentinel, which dominate the skyline. See the vivid orange-barked yellow-jacket trees as you walk 500 metres to the base of Spyglass Peak. Along the path you pass through a remarkable sandstone wall that looks like the ramparts of an ancient fort. On a fine day as you stand and admire this impressive landmark, you can see blue sky through the spyglass-shaped rock formation, which is well worth a photograph.

The Looking Glass

Injune, Maranoa Area
Free Entry
The Looking Glass walking track leads walkers through the colourful woodlands of the Maranoa River in the Mount Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park, where pink trunks of smooth-barked apple trees rise above a carpet of wildflowers. Wind has eroded a cave right through an isolated pillar of Precipice Sandstone standing by the Maranoa River. This spectacular ancient sandstone formation has been appropriately labelled “The Looking Glass”.

Ka Ka Mundi, Carnarvon National Park

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
Ka Ka Mundi, Carnarvon National Park, has more than 30 kilometres of sandstone escarpments and plateaus, dry rainforest surrounding clear springs and brigalow scrubs on clay soil. Aboriginal people have close ties to the area. Ka Ka Mundi suits wilderness seekers. Self-sufficient visitors can bush-camp near Bunbuncundoo Springs, however there are no visitor facilities. Experienced walkers with compass and map will enjoy exploring. The park is best to visit in cooler months, though mornings can be frosty.
Free Entry
In the Salvator Rosa Section of Carnarvon National Park, the spring-fed Nogoa River and Louisa Creek meander beneath a backdrop of rocky sandstone crags and spires. Spyglass Peak and The Sentinel, sculpted by millions of years of weathering, dominate the skyline. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is needed to access the park and to visit Belinda Springs and Major Mitchell springs. See vivid orange-barked yellow jacket trees as you take the 1 kilometre return walk to the base of Spyglass Peak. See wildflowers in spring. At least 10 of the park's 300 plant species are rare or threatened. Photograph the sunrise over the park's bluffs and spires. Go birdwatching. Self-sufficient visitors can camp at the Nogoa River camping area. April to September is the best time to visit.

Tregole National Park

Morven, Murweh Area
Free Entry
In semi-arid, south-western Queensland, Tregole National Park straddles the boundary between two of the state’s natural regions, the brigalow belt and the mulga lands. The park protects a small, almost pure stand of ooline Cadellia pentastylis, an attractive dry rainforest tree dating back to the Ice Ages. Ooline has been extensively cleared and is now uncommon and considered vulnerable to extinction. Tregole’s ooline forest survives in the less than ideal semi-arid conditions. Mulga grows on the ridges while poplar box woodlands cover the alluvial plains, brigalow woodlands grow on areas with heavy clay soils and Mitchell grasslands are found on the park’s undulating plains.
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