Famous for its luminous sapphires and its vivid fields of sunflowers, Emerald is a relaxed, welcoming holiday town at the heart of Australia’s sun-soaked state of Queensland.
The town itself has a number of important 19th century buildings, including its elegant railway station which also links Emerald to the bustling city of Brisbane – a few hours down the line. Even more historic, at the centre of town, visitors will find a fossilized tree that is thought to be 250 million years old.
For a leisurely afternoon stroll, the town’s Botanical Gardens are gorgeous, with rainforest exhibits and gently rippling lily ponds – an ideal site for a family picnic. Emerald is also a water sports centre. The wide expanse of Lake Maraboon provides the perfect environment for boating, water-skiing and kayaking, not to mention fishing.
The area around the town rose to prominence in the 19th century when word spread about its rich gemstone resources. Nowadays, visitors can drive to the gemfields at towns like Rubyvale and see some of the most stunning examples of the earth’s bounty.
Hikers will be in their element in the region, and there are marvellous sights of natural beauty like Emerald Falls, with its series of falls and lagoons inviting hikers to take a secluded dip. The countryside also has plenty of mountain biking trails, and maps can be picked up in town showing the routes.
The city is also home to a number of annual events like the Central Highlands Multi-Cultural Festival, with its vibrant range of cultural offerings and costumes. Though the town may be small, there is always something new to explore.
Being in the centre of Queensland, Emerald can be extremely warm in the summer months between November and March, and many of the outdoor attractions will be tough to access during these months. Visiting in April and May or between September and October may be perfect. With mild weather, constant sunshine and no crowds, you may have the trails to yourself. Travelling in July and August can be risky, with the chance of floods, but if the weather is fine then this is also a great time to visit.
Emerald is not large enough to really need an extensive public transport service, and you can reach the town’s attractions by foot or bicycle, if necessary. To see the gemfields or walking trails, a rugged rental car will be required, while you can also reach the coast by the Spirit of the Outback train service.