Central Queensland is a gem of a place in more ways than one. There are few parts of Australia where the names of the towns and villages so reflect their character as in the Central Highlands and Gemfields. Emerald, Rubyvale, Sapphire, Anakie and The Willows - if you don't strike it rich here, you'll have a good time trying.

Emerald is located some 263km west of Rockhampton and is the hub of the Central Highlands. Great shopping, first class accommodation and restaurants as well as activities such as the annual Easter Sunflower Festival will make your stay memorable.

gemfields central queensland

Then there are the gemfields. The lucky folk who did find the big one left a legacy in the names they gave their mining fields. Reward, Middle Ridge, Glenalva, Big Bessie, Graves Hill and Tomahawk Creek are just a few of the signposts to direct you as you discover this part of Queensland.

With annual festivals such as the Wheelbarrow Derby in June and The Gemfest in August, the Gemfields become a hive of activity. Here you will find the largest sapphire fields in the southern hemisphere and fossicking licences are available.

If you'd rather not feel the sun on your back, and you don't enjoy the toil of striking it rich, then why not opt for one of the walk-in mine tours available on the gemfields? At Rubyvale's Miners Heritage Walk-in Mine you can tour one of Australia's largest underground sapphire mines. Here you can watch skilled gemcutters ply their craft or you can hire equipment and try your own luck.

Guided tours are also available at the Bobby Dazzler Walk-in Mine and you can take time out to browse through the museum and gem shop - a lot easier than digging your own! You can do more buying at The Minners Cottage Gem and Fossick Park in Rubyvale.

rubyvale gallery

The wealth of the Central Highlands lies not only in its gemfields. The area abounds in history and there are many historical sites well worth visiting.

The Capella Pioneer Village is home to the carefully restored Peak Downs Homestead. This was the first settlement in the area and hosts historic highlights of pioneering life.

The Pioneer Cottage and Museum in Emerald is an early residence which is brimming with historic memorabilia. It also houses an extensive telecommunications collection which shows how our ancestors communicated over long distances in this vast region.

central queensland gemfields

Half an hour from Emerald is Lake Maraboon Fairbairn Dam. A delightful picnic spot and more than three times the size of Sydney Harbour, a great place to enjoy water sports, power boat racing, fishing or sailing.

The Central Highlands is famous for its national parks.

Carnarvorn Gorge National Park is characterised by a deep sandstone gorge draped in lush green palms and ferns. Hidden away on the sandstone cliffaces are a number of sacred Aboriginal art sites. Visitors may camp in the park or stay in the comfort of a cabin at Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge. The Blackdown Tablelands are an undulating plateau of sandstone rising 600 metres above the surrounding area.

central highlands australia

The Rainbow Falls are well worth the walk down to them and a swim in this crystal clear water is guaranteed to invigorate.

The grandeur of the Central Highlands and the Gemfields can only be experienced by visiting them.

Take the time - you'll be surprised at what you might dig up!

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