This is Australia: Emerald QLD

Queenslanders are certainly lucky when it comes to covid restrictions. We can travel freely around our state, which explains why there’s quite a few of us on the road. There’s also a number of Victorians on QLD roads. They escaped before QLD closed its border and they tell us they’re not returning any time soon. Little wonder, when curfews exist for all but the essentials. If you have to sit out covid, then travelling around this region of Queensland is not a bad option as we discovered when we left Wowan and headed for Emerald.

Emerald, like the nearby small townships of Rubyvale and Sapphire are so named for the gems found here. Today, though, it’s coal that rules the roost. 

Emerald with a population of 14,000 has all the infrastructure you would expect in a town this size that supports very profitable coal, cotton, cattle, citrus and grain industries.

The Spirit of Australia passenger train makes a stopover here enroute from Brisbane to Winton. The feature photo showcases the very attractive Emerald Train Station.

We based ourselves for a few days at Lake Maraboon just outside Emerald. It was a good choice. The facilities are many – shady sites, water sports like kayaking and fishing for red claw (the dam is also well stocked with a variety of fish), pool, even a bar and cafe.

Our set up at Lake Maraboon – the weather is on our side
A curious visitor to our camp site
The Fairburn Dam built across the Nogoa River in 1968 created the whopping 150 sq km Maraboon Lake. Explains why water hungry cotton can be grown here.
Lake Maraboon – current capacity is a low 10.6% . Bring on the predicted December deluge.
Downtown Emerald with its shady trees
Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers standing tall and proud on a giant easle in Emerald. Incredible to see.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Easel,_Emerald,_Central_Queensland
A blood red Emerald sunset
Anakie – first stop on the gemfields
Rubyvale – In the 1920s the 12 year old son of the  owners of this house found the Black Star of QLD – a hefty 733 carat sapphire worth $9 million today.
Sapphire Showcase – a little oasis in a sea of dust. I bought an uncomplicated pair of sapphire studs from jeweller and designer Jim Nesbitt. His history on the gemfields is interesting, but he tells us his time here has come to an end and hence, his business is for sale.
Beautiful gems from Sapphire, largest  gemfields in the world.
One of the many claims being worked. Dirt mounds are everywhere from where fossickers have dug. To properly fossick, you need to buy a licence. I’m thinking fossicking begins as a hobby, then morphs into a serious, addictive business judging by the number of people who try their hand and then stay. We met fossickers from interstate who spend 3 months or more on the gemfields before returning home. The returns for their hard work can be feast or famine.
Bobby Dazzler gem shop and cafe owner is crying out for staff. It’s a familiar story in regional QLD. JobKeeper keeps cropping up in conversations, and not in a positive way.
Side trip to Mt Morgan, a thriving gold mining town from 1882 for a hundred years
Mt Morgan
Mt Morgan’s National Hotel. No longer operational but top part served as a lookout for aircraft in WWII
Mt Morgan High School, a solid piece of 1900s architecture

We are hitting the road for Clermont tomorrow. One thing we are finding makes good sense is to book into caravan parks earlier rather than later, and make the booking by phone.

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