At first glance, Central Queensland doesn’t scream ‘holiday destination’. It all appears to be mining or farming. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
We hit the road with a loose travel plan. Spend a couple of days in Dysart and Moranbah to catch up with friends and family, before moving on to Emerald. Then make our way back home exploring The Gemfields, Blackdown Tablelands, and Carnarvon Gorge along the way.
The first stop on our trip was the iconic Nindigully Pub, just over the border in Queensland. After being defeated by the Roadtrain Burger last year, we came armed with all the kids to have another shot. We set up our brand new huge OZtrail swag, had an epic feed, a few beers and curled up under the beautiful bush stars. There’s just something about this old pub that we love. It never disappoints!
Things to do in Central Queensland
Staying in Emerald, we quickly realised there was quite a lot more to see and do than initially thought.
- The Botanical Gardens are worth a visit. There you will find a pedal monorail, playground for the kids, a huge windmill, a hedge maze and of course pristine gardens everywhere.
- For lovers of all things big – at the visitor information centre there is a massive easel with a tribute to Van Gough.
- It’s also worth exploring the CBD of this charming country town as there are plenty of great places to get something to eat and drink.
Lake Maraboon, Fairbairn Dam
Just outside of Emerald lies the picturesque Lake Maraboon, Fairbairn Dam. It’s a great place to have a look around, a picnic and even throw out a line. It is a popular spot to fish and even catch some red claw. The Lake Maraboon caravan park is gorgeous as well if you’re looking for a place to stay.
Around 50kms to the west of Emerald, you will find the little gem towns, Sapphire and Rubyvale. If you are a sucker for a treasure hunt, this is the place for you.
Out here you can pick up a fossicking permit, hire some gear and try your luck in one of the many designated fossicking areas. See the visitor information centre and they’ll give you a map and point you in the right direction.
If you prefer the easy way to find your own sapphires, there are plenty of great tourist gem shops where you can buy a bucket of wash and go fossicking. The buckets of wash average approx $15-20. The best part is they are pretty easy to find in the wash once they have been sieved in water as the sapphires sparkle in the sun.
After a hard day of fossicking and finding treasure, the Rubyvale Hotel is the perfect place for a cold drink and a feed.
It’s almost hard to believe you are in Central Queensland when you visit the Blackdown Tablelands. It feels like a tropical paradise in the bush.
There are lookouts, walking tracks, a 4wd loop and if you are self-sufficient you can stay at Munall Campground.
While you are in the Blackdown Tablelands you must do the Gudda Gumoo walk. This walk will take you down to the crystal clear lagoon and waterfall known as Rainbow Waters. It is a 2km trip each way with 240+ stairs and will take around 1 hr each way to complete. Make sure you take water, sunscreen and a hat.
Carnarvon Gorge is out in the middle of nowhere. But this is also what makes it great. If you are looking for a little peace and quiet, Carnarvon Gorge is absolutely serene.
The big open space, being close to nature, stunning bush walks and a pristine river makes Carnarvon Gorge an amazing place to explore. It’s quite easy to spend a couple of days there adventuring in the fresh air or even just kicking back and relaxing. With plenty of places to stay from camping to resort style, there’s something for everyone.
Central Queensland has so much to offer. So many beautiful places to see. And we’ve only just scratched the surface. If you don’t mind a little driving, there are so many epic adventures to be had.
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