Central Queensland Town


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Emerald is currently a 3 star accredited Queensland Tidy Town. Tell us what you think by voting in the poll – you can give a 1 to 5 star rating!

Emerald is the business centre for the Central Highlands Region. With a population of 15,000 residents, it lies on the Nogoa River, a tributary of the Fitzroy River. The town is almost 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the coast and approximately 270 kilometres (170 mi) west of the city of Rockhampton on the junction of the Capricorn and Gregory highways. The Tropic of Capricorn intersects the Gregory Highway just north of Emerald.

Emerald is a service town for a large number of industries in the area. Extensive coal mining operations are carried out in the district. Cotton is grown in the area, and is processed at the Yamala Cotton Gin, while other agricultural activities include cattle, grape, citrus and grain growing.

Emerald has a humid subtropical climate with warm to hot summers and mild, dry winters. Maximum temperatures range from 34 °C in January to 22 °C in July, while minimums range from 22 °C to 7 °C.

Local Government Information

The Central Highlands region is in Central Queensland, Australia. The region encompasses an area of around 60 000 square kilometres, making it just short of the size of Tasmania. It is home to around 30 000 people who live in the thirteen unique communities of Arcadia Valley, Bauhinia, Blackwater, Bluff, Capella, Comet, Dingo, Duaringa, Emerald, Rolleston, Sapphire Gemfields, Springsure and Tieri. Our region is rich in minerals and agriculture, thriving on irrigation sourced from water storage on the Nogoa and Comet rivers. We claim the largest sapphire-producing fields in the Southern Hemisphere. Major freight routes through the region include the north-south link between Charters Towers and northern New South Wales—identified as the inland transport alternative between Cairns and Melbourne.

Visit Central Highlands Regional Council Website

To the west of the town (approx. 40km) is an area known as The Gemfields, with small towns such as Sapphire and Rubyvale indicating the type of gems found there. The sapphire fields located here are the largest in the southern hemisphere.

The area was originally occupied by Aboriginal groups (the Gayiri tribe) for tens of thousands of years before European colonisation in the nineteenth century. Early European settlement in the region dates back from the 1850s with the first pioneers mainly grazing sheep. Regional growth continued into the late 1800s with the inland expansion of the railway west from Rockhampton.

The Fairbairn Dam, a short 20km drive to the south of Emerald, was opened in 1972, and holds back the waters of Lake Maraboon. The lake covers an area of up to 150 km², making it one of the largest artificial lakes in the country. Lake Maraboon is three times the size of Sydney Harbour. The lake is used for boating, fishing and swimming. This extensive water supply has allowed the cotton industry to flourish in the area.

The Big Barramundi at Fairbairn Dam

The Central Highlands is home to the magnificent sandstone wilderness areas that include Carnarvon Gorge, Minerva Hills National Park and Blackdown Tablelands National Park.

There is a variety of accommodation options available in Emerald, including motels, bed and breakfast, hotels, backpacker accommodation and caravan parks.

The town is well-catered for with a variety of restaurants and take-away meal options.


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