To help you Explore More of the Central Queensland Highlands, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite things to do.
1. Carnarvon Gorge National Park
This spectacular natural wonder rivals the beauty and popularity of Western Australia’s Kimberleys. Over millions of years, water has eroded a deep and dramatic gorge system, creating majestic cliffs whose character is ever-changing across the day and throughout the seasons. Carnarvon Creek flows all year, giving life to a luxuriant growth of ferns, palms, shrubs and trees. Explore walks and 4WD tracks and discover wildlife and Indigenous rock art. Find out more here.
2. Sapphire Gemfields
Catch Gem Fever by following the Sapphire Gemfields Interpretive Trail through Rubyvale, Sapphire, Willows and Anakie. Small-scale underground mines and associated businesses dot the landscape of these charming towns, offering you plenty of options to fossick for your own treasure or to simply take your pick from the array of gem shops, galleries and jewellers. The region also features mine tours, bushwalks, and a range of cafes and pubs. Find out more here.
3. Blackdown Tableland
Rising abruptly above the flat plains of the Bowen Basin, this beautiful national park is characterised by rugged cliffs, spectacular views, diverse wildlife, waterfalls and swimming holes. Blackdown is the traditional home of the Ghungalu people and rock art throughout the park reminds us of their connection to the land. The site also boasts picnic areas, campsites, nature and cultural walks, and a 4WD loop. Find out more here.
4. Emerald Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens by the Nogoa River is the ideal location to relax as you meander through a tropical paradise. The 42 hectares of gardens include a rose garden, maze, bush chapel, sculptures, rainforest and playground. Take an early morning walk, family picnic, bike ride or kayak along the river. Find out more here.
5. Blackwater International Coal Centre
Call into Blackwater – known as the coal mining capital of Queensland – to explore its world-class International Coal Centre and book a fascinating guided tour of the area’s mines. Find out more here.
6. Capella + the Peak Range
Explore More of the Central Queensland Highlands’ agricultural and pastoral history at the Capella Pioneer Village. Its centrepiece is the 1869 “Peak Downs” Homestead, complete with historical and vintage farm machines, many of which are still in working order. Meander along the parklands and discover the Australian Light Horse Monument. Take a drive through farmland countryside and take in the beauty of The Peaks, a chain of prominent and picturesque mountains. Find out more here.
7. Emerald Mosaic Walk + Giant Sunflowers
Once famous as a major sunflower producer, Emerald is now home to the world’s biggest (25m high) van Gogh Sunflower painting on an easel. Also located by the Visitor Information Centre is an intricately-designed Mosaic Pathway that leads you through 100 years in 100 metres of Emerald’s colourful history. There are lovely grassed areas, a picnic shelter, toilets, and caravan parking. Find out more here.
8. Springsure + Minerva Hills
The Minerva Hills National Park’s striking jagged peaks dotted with ancient Zamia palms provide the scenic backdrop to Springsure, a township known for its heritage, hills and hospitality. Spend a day or two taking in the views from the spectacular lookouts (many have vehicle access), discovering wildlife along the bushwalking tracks, and browsing the fine selection of local crafts and photos. Find out more here.
9. Old Rainworth Fort
The complex near Springsure includes an original fort building constructed to store food and resist attack. It also includes the relocated Cairdbeign homestead, an 1800s school building, and a fascinating collection of period pieces and historical artefacts. Entry: $10 adults, $5 children. Cash only, no Eftpos. Find out more here.
10. Lake Maraboon
Lake Maraboon is a holiday destination in itself! Formed by the amazing structure of Fairbairn Dam, the lake is a fisher’s paradise. It’s stocked with eight different kinds of fish, including Barramundi, and is abundant with Red Claw crayfish. Relax by the lake, take a stroll, bird watch, swim or try water skiing. Picnic tables, BBQs, kayak and boat hire, café, bar & take away are all available. The sunsets are awesome and should not be missed. Find out more here.