Close by Emerald are the Sapphire fields. The towns of Rubyvale, Anakie, Tomahawk creek gemfields and Willow gemfields.
The Gemfields of Sapphire and Rubyvale are by far the greatest attraction during the Winter, Spring and Autumn months, people flock here by the hundred's in these months. The sapphire fields date back to 1875 when the first gem was found by a Railway Surveyor.
Did you know Sapphires come in every colour of the rainbow, that Sapphires called "parti-colours" as multicoloured and red Sapphires are Rubies? You never know your luck!
Like Lightning Ridge, where the black Opal is found, people come from all over Australia, and the world to search for the blue, green, yellow and part-coloured and star sapphires that are found.
Sapphire is just 10 k north from Anakie (on the main highway west) on a sealed road and features a couple of caravan parks, cabins, shops, souvenirs, and gem cutters.
In August each year is the Gemfest. Recognised as Australia's premier gem show the event showcases large and rare sapphires found on the central Queensland Gemfields.
The Wheelbarrow Derby which is held bi-annually usually in June during the Winter school holidays. The idea of a race of this kind is based on one of the Gemfields' many legendary characters from the past.
The tales goes like this............
"Darkie Garnet came to the Gemfields pushing a wheelbarrow containing all of his worldly possessions. He struck it rich with sapphires and became quite wealthy; but he lived quite lavishly and reputedly won and lost three fortunes before finally leaving the Gemfields pushing a wheelbarrow containing all his worldly possessions."
Competitors have a push a wheelbarrow containing a pick and shovel and a ten kilo billy boulder from Anakie to Sapphire where they discard the boulder and use their shovel to fill a bucket with sand, tip it into the barrow and continue to Rubyvale, a distance of 18.3 ks. The last 6 k. is rough and corrugated, they must be mad!
The Bobby Dazzler is a walk in mine and museum we went to. You can also try your hand at fossicking here. Hope you have more luck than we did!
In 1899 Emerald's first Railway Station was built, but was burnt to the ground.
1900, and a new Railway Station was built, and what a beautiful one it is with lovely architecture. Built out of timber, with iron roof and wrought iron trimmings, it has an elaborate entrance, with wrought iron lacework and pillared portico, beautiful!
The Station is heritage-listed, and was lovingly restored to all its glory in 1986, do stop and have a look, and take a photo, it is worth it!
The world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting is situated in Morton Park, Emerald.
Emerald, famous as a major sunflower producer, is home to the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel. The huge painting is 25 metres high with approximately 13.6 tonnes of steel used in the making.
Of interest, is it was an idea by a person named Cameron Cross, to erect seven Sunflower sculptures in seven different countries, reproducing Van Gogh's seven different Sunflower paintings. I wonder if this ever happened, and if any of you reader's know of others located around the World.
Emerald's Sunflower Painting was finished on 8 November 1999.
An interesting walk that takes you to the painting is a mosaic pathway which depicts 100 years of Emerald's history with 21 tiled designs.
Adjacent is the 'straw bale' Visitor Information Centre, pop in for your free maps, brochures and information on Emerald and the surrounding Central Highlands.
Fairbairn Dam and Lake Maraboon ................
Fairbairn Dam refers to the spillway and Lake Maraboon, meaning ‘where the black duck fly’, refers to the body of water behind the spillway. This huge expanse of water is three times the size of Sydney Harbour and is home to a number of waterfowl and native marine life, seems like a lot of our Dams are 3X the size of Sydney Harbour!
We drove over the Dam Wall, then went into the picnic area and checked that out, very nice!
Picnic tables/chairs, wood bbq's or FREE ELECTRIC BBQ"S and a swimming area.
You are allowed to do water sports on the Lake. Fishing is good, as it is stocked with
eight different kinds of fish including Barramundi, and Red Claw Crayfish.
Fairbairn Dam itself was opened in 1972 allowing for the expansion of agriculture and large-scale coal mining within the region.
Right next to where we parked our car at Rigle Range road at the Emerald Botanic gardens, was a large, Southern Cross Windmill. It lwas built in 1931 and was used for irrigation on "Marathon", one of the early pioneer farms near Emerald. Now, after restoration, it is here in the Botanic Gardens, and is used for pumping water into the lagoon in the Gardens.
Nearby, were the Federation Pillars, take a closer look at them, the Bush Chapel, and at the Yarn pit, made for a gathering of people to sit on and to enjoy a Yarn.
The Children's playground includes a Monorail. Nearby are BBQ's, making this a nice spot for a family gathering.
Everybody can have fun at the Mazes,........ Melaleuca Maze and the spiral shaped maze of the Celestial Garden.
The Botanic Gardens are on the edge of the Nogoa River. They have quite a good variety of plants, including a formal terraced rose garden and a Rainforest. There is even a Maze, made out of Melaleuca's, these are in the Celestial Garden.
If you are here at the right time, then there is Water lillies flowering, and usually plenty of Waterbirds in the area, take along some stale Bread! Plenty of Australian natives, inculding Eucalypt's, and Palms.
I really thought it was nice, especially after travelling through the dry country at the time we came to Emerald, it was like a little piece of Paradise!
ENTRY IS FREE
This amazing fossilised tree is 250 million years old, and is located just outside Emerald's Town Hall.
The tree was unearthed in 1979 when a new railway bridge was being built across the Mackenzie River for the Gregory Mine. It was presented to the town in its centenary year by the mining company.
Sections of the gardens has been devoted to plants which are indigenous to the Central Highlands. Features include the Federation Pillars, Marbles in the Park, the Water Fall and Bush Chapel.
There also many varieties of flowering shrubs and trees
There are approximately 6kms of walking tracks throughout the Eastern and Western sides of the Botanical Gardens.
Some of the attractions you will find on the Western Side of the gardens include Secure Play equipment and BBQ area, Band Stand, the Rose Garden and Mono Rail.
The Emerald Botanic Gardens are situated on the banks of the Nogoa River.
They are the only Botanic Gardens in the Central Western District of Queensland.
The total area of gardens is 42 hectares.
The Art Gallery was a big disappointment to me. Even in quaint little towns, you find that the art gallery is a place of pride, a place where you feel yourself being drawn inside.. Not so here, unfortunately.
The Courthouse is a small but modern building.. and appears to have been built quite recently. Though, for some reason, it appears to be situated in the wrong place. The surrounding buildings are all 'a bit of this, and a bit of that'.. making it not very appealing.
Walking around Emerald, you get the impression that this town could almost be two entirly different towns.
Some of the old buildings are beautifully preserved, and have that old world charm about them.
Just a short drive through citrus orchards takes you to Lake Maraboon, Queensland's second largest lake which was formed when the Fairbairtn Dam was built across the Hogoa River.
Campers on the lake shores can hand-feed parrots and possums and fish for the Murray cod, saratoga and other fresh-water varieties, with which Maraboon is stocked.
The gardens also have some beautiful ponds and water gardens.
Most of the garden areas is for pedestrian use only. However bicycles are permitted in some clearly marked areas.