Emerald, inland from Rockhampton, is a great place to stop and explore the Central Highlands of Queensland. There’s plenty to do to keep the kids occupied, both in town and in the surrounding areas. These five activities are family friendly and will help you find the right balance for young and old.
Explore the Sapphire Gemfields
Jump in the car and drive west of Emerald for 45 minutes, and you’ll reach the Central Queensland Sapphire Gemfields. Covering 900 square kilometres and taking in towns such as Sapphire and Rubyvale, the gem fields are full of fun ways to fill a day. Get the kids to try their hands at gem fossicking: buy a bucket of wash and watch them sift their way through, looking for their very own gem. Staff can help with technique and identification to make sure no-one misses their treasure. Local galleries and shops have ample displays of locally-sourced gems for sale if you don’t happen to find your own. Underground mine tours (which can provide welcome respite from the heat) reveal what life was like for the pioneer miners searching for their fortune. If you happen to be in Sapphire after dark, check out the observatory and marvel at the number of stars visible in the outback night sky.
A day at the Lake
Fairbairn Dam, on Lake Maraboon (meaning ‘where the black ducks fly’) is a beautiful place to take a dip and have a picnic. If you’re a family of anglers, make sure you bring your rods and tackle, as the lake is stocked with eight species of fish including barramundi and yellow perch, as well as redclaw crayfish. It’s also a great spot to see water birds and kangaroos – visit around dawn and dusk for the most beautiful displays.
Make a splash at Emerald Aquatic Centre
When the heat gets too much, and you’re all tired of taking in the sights, head straight to the Emerald Aquatic Centre and cool off. With indoor and outdoor pools, slides, inflatables (during the holidays) and a shallow water park perfect for the toddlers, Emerald Aquatic Centre is the perfect place to chill out. Kiosk and BBQ facilities are available.
Stroll through Emerald Botanic Gardens Grab a coffee and while away a morning or afternoon at the beautiful Emerald Botanic Gardens. Meander through the 12 themed gardens and exhibits and learn more about the region’s natural heritage. Pack a picnic and enjoy relaxing on the lawns or let the little kids burn off some energy at the playground. Check out the Emerald Historic Railway Station This heritage listed timber building with beautiful wrought iron trimmings was built in 1900, one year after the recently-completed first Emerald Railway Station burnt to the ground. Take some great happy snaps along the pretty platform and admire the elaborate decorations.
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If you’re staying in Emerald, accommodation is easy to find. But the Comfort Inn Midlander Emerald is hard to go past. With ten types of rooms to choose from, including serviced apartments with kitchenettes, you’re sure to find the Emerald accommodation you need. Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi access, flatscreen TVs with Foxtel and air conditioning (a must in this region) – enquire about the rooms with covered outdoor areas with tables and chairs. Located in the heart of Emerald, the Comfort Inn Midlander Emerald is close to restaurants, cafes and pubs, but if you just want a night in, you can enjoy room service. The kids will love the outdoor saltwater pool – take a dip yourself and sit back and relax while they swim. For any family staying in the Central Highlands, Emerald accommodation doesn’t come much better than this.