Check out the region’s hidden gems

by Tourism Development Coordinator Paul Thompson

With all the recent rain around the Central Highlands, a lot of our waterways, creeks, rivers and even some dormant waterfalls have come to life.

This is a great time to pack a picnic and travel some of our local backroads.

For a great day out, you can’t go past the Sapphire Gemfields.

My favourite pick of the waterways is the Sapphire Gemfields Wetlands Reserve.

Established in 2012 the reserve protects this sensitive area providing a refuge to native animals and three very rare invertebrates – the fairy shrimp, tadpole shrimp and clam shrimp. With all the recent rains the reserve has come to life with beautiful reflections and an abundance of plant and bird life.

The best time for a walk along the many trails is in the morning or late afternoon to make the most of the soft sunlight, especially if you are a keen photographer.

With all this rain, “specking”, that well known art of stubbing your toe on a fortune, in the form of Sapphire gems is great fun.

A top tip seems to be the creeks around the Glenalva fossicking area. There are probably others, but nobody will tell me where they are.

Travelling on through Willows, stop at the interpretative panels, part of the Sapphire Gemfields Treasure Trail, gaining insight into some interesting local stories.

Travel south along the scenic drive route, “Willows Way” (about 300km return to Anakie) or through to Springsure, via Lochington and past the Snake Range.

This route travels along the top of the Nogoa River and over a sandstone escarpment with scenic vistas of the surrounding countryside.

If travelling on to Springsure, the Minerva Hills National Park adds another dimension to this scenic drive.

Whatever journey you take remember to always drive to the conditions and drop into Emerald Visitor Information Centre, or one of the local pubs or cafes and discuss your travel plans with a local.

Rain falling over Minerva Hills National Park
After the recent rains, the ‘locals’ are ready for another round! Lochington Valley, Willows to Springsure Road.

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