Emerald was named after the Emerald Downs Hill, a lush, green hill located to the north of town. You won't find any green gemstones here, but the region is the gateway to the Gemfields, known for its gem mining areas. No prizes for guessing what kind of gems can be found at the towns of Rubyvale and Sapphire! Take a short drive to these towns from Emerald and spend the day fossicking for a rare stone to call your own – a souvenir you're sure to never forget. Visit in August and you'll be in time for Gemfest, a festival celebrating gems and jewels of all sorts. During this time you can gaze at rare and colourful gemstones, learn how to make jewellery at one of the many workshops and even take some home with you.
Emerald's importance in the Central Highlands region also led to the construction of Fairbairn Dam and Lake Maraboon in 1972. Today, the lake and dam are popular tourist destinations, with views of the tranquil water stretching for miles. By day, families flock to the lake to cool off in its waters, pack picnics and make use of the barbecues and tables scattered around the area, or bring their fishing gear in the hopes of landing a barramundi or a rare Red Claw Crayfish.
For something more unusual, head to Morton Park to take a look at the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting – a great landmark for a town that was once famous for being a major sunflower producer! The painting and the easel it sits on measures 25 metres and a whopping 13.6 tonnes of steel was used in its construction. Talk about a great view on a Starry Night! The sunflower festivities continue around Easter, with the Emerald Easter Sunflower Festival held every year and featuring a street parade, food and wine stalls and even a rodeo.
An easy three hours from Rockhampton by car, or a train ride on the Brisbane to Longreach line, getting to Emerald promises the sights of rich fields, colourful wildflowers, sparkling lakes and rocky gorges. And that's only the start of your holiday! Book our Emerald accommodation and get ready for a country trip with a difference.
Hotels in Emerald start at AU$77 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.