The below towns and places are listed in aphabetical order, and will explain what is on offer throughout the region and beyond.
Travel west to the Drummond Range - enjoy the difference of the countryside and the view from the lookout at the top of the range. See the Cairn which marks where explorer Mitchell once passed.
Call at the Shakespeare Street Information Centre for details on the 27 Murals featured on many buildings in the town (2 hours+). Shade trees, verandahs and ample seating in the main business centre are enticing. View the Railway Station Museum complex next to the Council Offices (1 hour).
The Blackwater International Coal Centre opened in 2008 next to the Japanese Gardens. See a Steam Locomotive, Eliza’s Cottage and one of the largest displays of flags in the world at Lions Park. The monument 'At the Coalface' in Mackenzie Street stands as a reminder of the past perils of coal mining.
Bedford Weir is a short distance from town on the Mackenzie River (1hour+). The Weir boasts numerous angling species including Redclaw, Saratoga and Golden Perch.
Bluff is the major rail assembly depot for its surrounding coal basin.
Visit the Museum at the railway station where there is memorabilia from the February 26, 1961 rail crash at Medway Creek and the Landcare prize winning plant identification collection (1hour+).
The Capella Pioneer Village is the agricultural museum of the Central Highlands. Volunteers open the Village from 9am to noon Wednesday to Friday and Sundays, April to October. Here you’ll find the restored 1869 ‘Peak Downs’ Homestead, the largest all wood drop-plank construction homestead in Australia, and the tractors and machinery used in the Queensland-British Food Corporation pioneer broadacre farming era of 1948 - 1954 (1 - 2 hours).
View the wall and Pole Murals and heritage listed tent roofed railway station in Peak Downs Street (½ - 1 hour). There’s the Capella Creek Bird Watching Area for nature lovers (1 hour+) and a scenic lookout 1km south of the town (¼ hour).
Take a self drive tour through the surrounding country side to appreciate the fine agricultural and grazing lands and coal mining areas (2 hours to full day). These include the Cotherstone Road to view the Peak Range (1 - 2 hours) and Yan Yan Road to see the coal mine operations that now surround the old Lilyvale township site, which once was part of the stage and wagon route between the northern goldfields and the coast. www.capella.com.au
Enjoy Capella’s ‘beach’ - the modern Aquatic Centre with five pools, free electric barbecues, café and nine hole themed mini golf course (1 hour+). The ‘beach’ adjoins the Capella Courtyard with its Peak Range water feature and the Cultural Centre which has showings of local artists works and where some of Australia’s top acts perform (1/2 – 3 hours). Enjoy the events at the huge covered arena (1/2 – 4 hours). Check the Central Queensland News paper for details.
With Carnarvon Creek meandering through the length of the soft sandstone gorge, Carnarvon Gorge is a paradise for walkers. The marvellous narrow side gorges, cliffs, moss gardens, Aboriginal rock art sites and glorious and abundant plant and bird life are in stark contrast to the surrounding brigalow country (1 - 3 days+).
Lower Gorge walk - 14 km return
Moss Gardens is a hidden jewel, tucked away in Violet Gorge. A natural spring seeps from the rock walls to feed a lush carpet of mosses, lichens and liverworts.
Millions of years have produced an incredible crevice, which is accessed by a steel ladder. Once inside you will feel dwarfed by the sheer beauty of the large chasm caved out by water.
Experience a rapid drop in temperature as you enter this narrow side gorge. The moist and shaded conditions creates the perfect environment to support the rare king fern.
Visit an ancient aboriginal site sheltered under a sandstone overhang and view hundreds of year old engravings, free hand and stencil paintings.
6.4 km, 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours return
Towering 200m above, Boolimba Bluff offers panoramic views of the Gorge and surrounding district.
Mickey Creek Gorge
3km, 1 – 2 hours return
In parts of the Gorge you could stretch your arms out and touch the cliffs either side of you. The "natural air conditioning" makes it a most pleasant place to be.
Upper Gorge walk - 20 km return
Cathedral Cave, Boowinda Gorge, Big Bend
A full day discovering the upper gorge will take you to Cathedral Cave, a massive rock shelter covered in aboriginal carvings and paintings. Then on to Boowinda Gorge, an extravagantly sculptured side gorge. Arrival at Big Bend is rewarded with the opportunity to relax and picnic at the natural pool.
Hundreds of plant species crowd the fertile gorge which still shelters giant Angiopteris ferns dating back 300 million years. Palms, cycads, grass-trees, eucalyptus and an abundance of mosses, lichens and other small plants can be found.
Watch for platypus in the creek during the early morning or late afternoon. An evening walk with a torch may reveal possums, gliders, bandicoots and kangaroos.
There are some great opportunities for the ardent birdwatcher with over 173 bird species inhabiting or visiting the park. King parrots, azure kingfisher and migrants like the channel billed cuckoo can be found.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage
The caves and cliff walls were a popular place for Aboriginal art and contain some of the finest examples of hands, axes, emu tracks and boomerangs to be seen anywhere in Australia. Using the technique of blowing pigment over a stencil the Aborigines painted on the walls in red ochre and white, black and yellow pigments.
There are 35 family oriented, permit regulated, park camping sites available during the Queensland autumn, winter and spring school holidays only. All other camping is off park. For permits phone 131304 or online www.epa.qld.gov.au. Permits are not required for day trips. There are no rubbish bins, all rubbish must be taken away with you. No domestic animals are allowed into the park. Bring your own water containers to carry drinking water with you when walking in the park.
In wet weather, check out the condition of the 19km gravel section of the 44km long Carnarvon Gorge access road with the Ranger on 07 4984 4505. The turn is 62 km south of Rolleston off the Carnarvon Highway section of the sealed Great Inland Way. Don’t miss the Rewan Memorial on your way into the Gorge.
Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge has cabin style accommodation available 3km from the car parking area. Their restaurant is open to the general public. Basic food supplies, ice and gas may be obtained from the Lodge or Takarakka.
Camping is available at Carnarvon Gorge “Takarakka" Bush Resort camping ground 4km from the car park area.
Free tours of the Blair Athol Coal Mine are available at 8.50am on Tuesdays and Fridays during the dry season (half day). Bookings essential phone 4983 3292 or 4983 1927.
Around Clermont you can spend some time fossicking for gold! Hire equipment is available locally (1 day+).
Delve into the Copperfield history (1 hour+) or spend some time at Theresa Creek Dam - take a picnic or go fishing. The local volunteer Fish Stocking Group stock the dam with Barramundi and Yellow Belly. The bag limit is one Barra per fisher (1 hour+).
See the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat sculpture (emblem of Clermont), height of the 1916 flood marker and the piano in the tree! These and many other memorials await you as you walk around the illuminated Hood’s Lagoon parklands (2 hours+). Take some bread to feed the water fowl.
Visit the Museum on the Mackay Road and see their restored traction engine that moved the town (2 hours+). Don’t miss the Rail Wagon Murals in Herschel Street (½ hour).
See the tree trunk that Ludwig Leichhardt marked with DIG on his second expedition. This is next to the Whistle Stop Park and the former Comet Railway Station which displays old photographs and railway bridge plans (1 hour).
Dingo is a convenient access point for exploring the Blackdown Tableland National Park. This magnificent area is a natural wilderness with deep sandstone gorges, caves and cliffs with cascading waterfalls that combine to create dramatically beautiful scenery (1 day+). Most roads in the park are suitable for careful conventional vehicles.
For camping area bookings phone 131304 or online www.epa.qld.gov.au
The town is home to a Dingo Sculpture and a most unusual annual event - the World Dingo Trap Throwing competition!
Mackenzie Park Tourism and Heritage Centre caters to the needs of travellers and showcases local history (1 hour+). Bauhinia is a small community on the Dawson Highway, south of the Woorabinda Aboriginal Community.
A 120 ton (
Visit the world’s biggest Sunflower Painting on an easel and walk the 100 metre Centenary of Federation Mosaic Pathway to the strawbale Visitor Information Centre and Pioneer Cottage complex in Morton Park, at the western end of Clermont Street (½ - 1 hour).
The Botanic Gardens straddle the Nogoa Rivera and feature Federation Pillars, a Rose Garden and 6 kilometres of walking tracks (1 – 3 hours).
Emerald’s Railway Station, with its wrought iron lace and pillared portico, was built in 1900 and restored in 1986 (1/2 hour).
The Fossilised Tree outside the Emerald Town Hall (cnr Egerton & Anakie Streets) is carbon dated at 250 million years (½ hour). Enjoy the hands-on Science Centre at the Emerald Showgrounds during school terms. (1 hour).
Drive 18km to Fairbairn Dam and Lake Maraboon. The lake is stocked with fish and redclaw. Swim or just relax by the lake or take a barbecue (and lights) and watch the sun set over the water. Picnic tables and free electric and wood barbeques are available (1 – 4 hours).
Take a look at the first operational tractor on the Central Highlands at Gindie (1 hour).
The Crystal Trumpeters sculpture in Railway Park is associated with the oldest city in the world, Jericho in Israel. Take a stroll along the length of the Park to enjoy the machinery and murals. Don’t miss the complete set of Jericho town buildings Pottery Models at the railway station or the old 36 car drive in theatre, with extra seating in the ‘chook roost’ up the back (1 hour+).
Redbank Park is a great place to relax close to town (½ hour+). Cross the Great Dividing Range at 444m between Alpha and Jericho, plus the inland flowing Jordan River, and you are in the Outback.
Rolleston features the restored Purbrook Hut and Pioneer Monument at Beazley Park (½ hour) and is the closest town to the Carnarvon Gorge section of the Carnarvon National Park.
A thriving beef and cropping region support Rolleston and natural gas has been discovered in the area. 'Planet Downs' cattle station resort is to the east on the Dawson Highway. The Lake Nuga Nuga National Park is in the fertile Arcadia Valley.
The Sapphire Gemfields cover almost 900 square kilometres of one of the world’s most significant sapphire bearing grounds and takes in the townships of Rubyvale, Sapphire, Anakie, and Willows Gemfields.
Surrounding the townships of Rubyvale and Sapphire is the 11,000 acre Miner’s Common, which is an area gazetted at the turn of last century as a place for miners to graze their cattle and horses. It is the only Miners Common left in Queensland.
Across the Sapphire Gemfields you can watch sapphires being cut (½ hour+) or appreciate the locally made jewellery. You can dine in distinctive gemfields surroundings (1 hour+) and there’s a museum (1 hour), a gallery and gem shops. View unusual billy boulder and bush timber architecture (1 hour+)
Rubyvale is home to two underground tourist sapphire mines, where you can venture beneath the earth and experience for yourself sapphire mining in the ancient riverbeds (1 hour+). Buy a bucket of gravel ‘wash’ and learn how to sieve for sapphires at a fossicking park (1 hour+). If you don’t feel like digging in the dirt, there are several local gem galleries with stunning sapphire jewellery and cut gemstones for sale.
Buy a bucket of gravel ‘wash’ and learn how to sieve for sapphires at a fossicking park (1 hour+), then you can dig for your own sapphires in one of the gazetted fossicking areas. Mined since the late 1800s, the landscape is as much a part of the lifeblood of Sapphire as the rich treasures of the earth.
Positioned on the ‘crossroads’ along the Capricorn Highway, Anakie is home to the centrepiece of Australia’s largest annual sapphire exhibition, ‘Gemfest – Festival of Gems’. This is held across the gemfields over four days in the second week of August. Visit the Anakie Hotel which had to be partially rebuilt in 1971 after a disgruntled patron blew out the front section with gelignite.
Willows Gemfields is a popular fossicking spot as hand mining only is allowed and corporate mining has never been permitted. Some of the world’s most famous sapphires have been found here, including a 332 carat rough yellow stone, aptly named the ‘Golden Willow’.
There are gazetted fossicking areas where you can try to unearth your own treasures. A fossickers license can be obtained from one of the many outlets on the Sapphire Gemfields and this will contain maps and regulations covering these areas. Equipment can be purchased or hired (½ day - many days).
Willows Designated Fossicking Land (Willows Gemfields).
Located about 38km west of Anakie. Known for the beautiful yellow and green sapphires found here.
Glenalva Fossicking Area (Anakie)
20km southwest of Anakie. A wide variety of coloured sapphires can be found here.
Big Bessie Fossicking Area (Sapphire)
A small area within the Sapphire Designated Fossicking Land. Sapphire bearing shallow wash covers most of the area; there are patches of undisturbed ground which is likely to contain sapphires.
Graves Hill Fossicking Area (Rubyvale)
Extending from the southwest corner of the Sapphire Designated Fossicking Land. Green, yellow and blue sapphires have been found in the shallow wash.
Middle Ridge Fossicking Area (Rubyvale)
A small fossicking area (32ha) located between the designated fossicking lands of Divide and Rubyvale. All colours can be found here.
Tomahawk Creek Fossicking Area (Rubyvale)
More remotely located some 45km north-west of Rubyvale. Blue and ‘fancy’ coloured sapphires have been found.
Visit the Federation Woolshed museum, two early homesteads, a large windmill plus wagon and cattle yard displays in Rich Park (2 hours), which is part of the Zamia Parklands.
View the illuminated Virgin Rock from Lions Park just north of Springsure (½ hour) and, take a drive into the Minerva Hills National Park to enjoy a barbecue and the views from Fred’s Gorge (1 hour+).
The Old Springsure Hospital in Woodbine Street (built of local brick in 1868) is the first hospital to be restored under the National Estate Grant (1 hour). (Phone 07 4984 1200 to check if open). There is an Aboriginal Crypt at the cemetery, but you must have the caretaker take you there.
Old Rainworth Fort is open every day except Thursday and also features a slab hut homestead, early school and woolshed (2 hours). Drive to the top of the Staircase Range for a view of the rolling agricultural country (1 hour). There are Self Drive Tours of the district (½ - full day) - check at the Springsure Council Offices or information centre.
The Ka Ka Mundi, Goodliffe and Salvator Rosa Sections (no fuel available) of the Carnarvon National Park are accessed along the Dawson Developmental Road and have a no booking - self registration system (1 - 3 days). Please check with the Ranger-In-Charge on 07 4984 1716 about park and road conditions.
Day permits are available for Labradorite and opalised wood fossicking.
Tieri is a young town with a very pleasant shopping mall featuring a Memories Wall. Tieri was built during the 1980s to house the employees of the Oaky Creek Coal mines. View huge overburden heaps on your way to watch the many water fowl on Bundoora Dam (½ hour+).