Emerald is situated on the Capricorn Highway and the Gregory Highway section of the Great Inland Way Central Queensland. Emerald looks relatively new for a country town that was established in 1879. This is because of devastating fires in 1936, 1940, 1954 and again in 1968.
These disastrous events combined with the much more welcome construction of the Fairbairn Dam and the Emerald Irrigation Scheme, and with the beginning of large scale Bowen Basin coal mining, shaped Emerald into the town you see today.
Built in 1900 and restored in 1986, the National Trust listed Railway Station with its wrought iron lacework and pillared portico is without doubt Emerald's most photographed tourist attraction. At the Emerald Town Hall view a fossilised tree aged 250 million years, that was given to the people of Emerald by BHP Minerals to mark the town's centenary in 1979.
Visit the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel in Morton Park at the western end of Clermont Street, near the straw bale construction regional Visitor Information Centre, and walk the Mosaic Pathway, the heritage pathway is 100m long and celebrates 100 years in Emerald. Mosaic art is set in the heritage pathway at intervals and encompasses 12 themes from Aborigines to settlement to past and present industries in the Emerald region.
There are 21 circular mosaics, and at the end of the heritage pathway is Emerald’s gigantic sunflower painting on a 25m high easel. The painting was created to be one of a series of seven “sunflowers” honouring those painted by Vincent Van Gogh during the 1800s.
The Emerald Exhibitions Gallery has exhibitions hanging most days, and admission is free. Many travelling exhibitions are shown throughout the year and there’s an annual art competition as well.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in the Emerald Botanic Gardens, on the Nogoa River, at the eastern approach to the town, then soak up Emerald's history at the Pioneer Cottage or watch a cattle sale at the Saleyards complex.
Emerald is central to a whole host of industries, ranging from grazing to the exotic. Among them are sheep and cattle, citrus farms, sapphire mining, coal, cropping and cotton industries.
While in the Emerald area, visit everything from the pioneer museum to Lake Maraboon. Wander through the Emerald Botanic Gardens, forming an oasis in the highlands.
West of Emerald are the gemfields and to the east is the Blackdown Tableland National Park.