A quaint, tranquil town nestled on the Nogoa River, Emerald is one of Queensland’s Central Highlands’ best kept secrets.
Immersed in the midst of an epic countryside that is renowned worldwide, the town is only a stone throw away from the largest sapphire gemfields in the Southern hemisphere.
Whether you’re in Emerald for an exploration or are simply just passing through, it’s worth going on an adventure in and around Emerald. From national parks to Maraboon Lake to sapphire hunting, here are the best places to camp near Emerald over the summer.
Emerald Botanic Gardens at Emerald Tourist Park
An exciting experience that doesn’t come by often, stay over inside the grounds of the Emerald Botanic Gardens. Featuring 12 different themed plant communities over a massive area of 42 hectares in land, so much exploration awaits you as you camp the night here at the Emerald Tourist Park.
The charm behind Emerald Tourist Park is the local family that runs the show. A true authentic feel of local warmth and welcome, a stay here as a guest will have you leaving as a friend.
The Emerald Tourist Park offers a range of accommodation options such as self contained cabins, deluxe villas and powered or unpowered sites for camping tents, camper trailers and caravans.
Beyond nature and a magnificent botanical adventure, the Emerald Tourist Park is strategically located near pubs, clubs, cafes and the local shopping centre at only 300 metres away.
All necessary amenities such as camp kitchens, clean bathrooms and showers, laundry, barbecue pits, kiosks and free WiFi is available. If you’re lucky, you could experience some live entertainment, a community fire pit, some day tours or fresh fish and chips at the Emerald Tourist Park.
Lake Maraboon at Lake Maraboon Holiday Village
A quick 25 kilometres from Emerald, Lake Maraboon is the second largest lake in Queensland featuring 15,000 hectares of surface area when full. While the water area is called Lake Maraboon, the spillway and wall is known as Fairbairn Dam.
Lake Maraboon is an Outback experience every traveller in Emerald should have on their bucket list. From an excellent fishing spot stocked with Barramundi, Murray Cod, Yellowbelly and Saratoga, to watersports such as boating, waterskiing, jet skiing, kayaking, and swimming, there’s plenty of water activities to do here.
For those who prefer staying on land, you could always wander around the lake to experience the magnificent natural surroundings, both flora and fauna. Head to the lookout and bask in the stunning views of Lake Maraboon and Fairbairn Dam.
A picnic here is a must, with plenty of barbecue pits and tables available for your enjoyment. Bring along some games for the kids, or even a ball to throw around given the wide green spaces for them to run around. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and drinks to keep everyone hydrated too.
Oh, and while we’re at it, don’t miss out on a spectacular, picturesque sunset that will take your breath away.
The Lake Maraboon Holiday Village is where you want to camp when visiting the lake. Accommodation types range from large cabins to en-suite cabins overlooking Lake Maraboon. There are also lake view powered sites for camping, caravanning or for your motor home.
Mount Hay Gemstone Tourist Park
If you’re looking for a great way to involve the kids in a little fossicking adventure without having to travel out of your way to get there, head to the Mount Hay Gemstone Tourist Park.
The Mount Hay area is the remains of an ancient volcano that hasn’t been active for over 120 million years ago. Beneath the earth lies several magnificent finds referred to as thundereggs or volcanic birthstones, which have magnificent colours and patterns as a result of crystallization of siliceous liquids. There is an abundance of them, making this place a great adventure for families with kids.
Only approximately 2 and a half hours away from Emerald, this private campground is a gem of a find. The Mount Hay Gemstone Tourist Park runs pewter casting workshops and has its own fossicking area and gift shop, along with great facilities such as barbecue pits, laundry, and bathrooms and hot showers.
Accommodation varies from powered camping and caravan sites to private en-suite cabins.
Where to eat in Emerald
A happy stomach makes for a great adventure. And what better way is there to fill your bellies than to indulge in Emerald’s beloved tavern - the Maraboon Tavern.
A popular hit among the locals, the Maraboon Tavern amazes with its delectable meals that are generously portioned and prepared by highly trained chefs. From juicy steaks cooked to perfection to Asian cuisines such as crispy pork belly to fresh local caught seafood favourites like the barramundi fish and chips, a meal at the Maraboon Tavern will not disappoint.
It’s also a great family friend place to dine, with a kids playground for the adults to rest and relax with some icy cold beers on tap or a wide selection of local and imported wines, liquors and spirits.