Explore ancient limestone caverns, discover fossils, visit a gold rush town, uncover thunder eggs, fossick for gemstones, and walk through ageless rainforests. Create your own self-drive itinerary and take your time exploring several unique tourism destinations along the way. The drive is easily accessible on sealed roads.
Just north of Rockhampton, you will discover some of the most spectacular and geologically significant caves in Queensland. This multi-award-winning ecotourism attraction runs a wide range of guided tours for all ages and abilities.
Approximately half and hour west of Rockhampton, you can fossick for thundereggs at Mount Hay Gemstone Tourist Park. These crystalline formations were produced when the gas bubbles in molten lava solidified.
The next stop is Duaringa – the oldest township in the area dating back to the 1860’s. The Old Duaringa hotel is a reminder of the pioneering lifestyle. Mackenzie Park on the the east side of town, features the unique Budgeroo or Duaringa stringy bark tree.
As you follow the Capricorn Way, take a scenic detour to Blackdown Tablelands National Park. Enjoy views of picturesque natural rock formations, discover unique plants. magnificent lookouts and seasonal freshwater holes.
A little further west, you will reach Blackwater with its rich heritage and substantial export earnings it earned the title of ‘Coal Capital of Queensland’. Blackwater also boasts a fine Japanese garden. These gardens mark the relationship between Blackwater and her sister city Fujisawa, Japan.
Next, you will pass through the tiny town of Comet, named after the Comet River.
Continuing along the Capricorn Way, you’ll soon arrive at the township of Emerald. Named not after the gem, but for the lush green pastures that once surrounded the town.
Emerald is the hub of the Central Highlands area. Primary industries include coal, sapphire and gem mining, cotton, wheat, maize, sorghum, sunflowers, and a variety of other crops. Emerald is home to the worlds biggest Van Gogh ‘Sunflower’ painting located in Morton Park. The 42-hectare Botanical Gardens are on the banks of the Nogoa River are also a must see.
Just 45 minutes west of Emerald are the Sapphire Gemfields, the largest gemfields in the Southern Hemisphere.
A visit to the Sapphire Gemfields is exciting for all ages. Guided underground mine tours are available, or you can try your hand at a fossicking park and sift through a bucket of sapphire wash.
Be sure to keep your eye out for your own treasure! Pop into one of the local galleries and marvel at the exquisite jewelery.
Head to the Outback town of Alpha. Along the drive you will take in the Drummond range. Get the camera ready and make sure you make a stop at the lookout. The views are truly amazing and well worth the stop.
Alpha is known as the ‘Town of Murals’ and displays a number that have been painted on both private and public buildings depicting the areas history. The region is known as Mitchel country, named after Sir Thomas Mitchell who went through the area in 1846.
Before leaving Alpha stock up on your baked goods from their famed bakery. Once back on the Capricorn Way you will be headed to Barcaldine.
Barcaldine is a town filled with history and colour, as well as The Tree of Knowledge – the reputed birthplace of the labour movement in Australia. The Tree – a ghost gum – grew outside the Railway Station for about 180 years until 2006 when sadly, it was poisoned by an unknown culprit. The famous tree has been preserved and placed under an award-winning timber structure that was constructed to protect the preserved tree and celebrate its importance in Australia’s history. The structure is impressive during the day but when viewed at night is truly magnificent.
Barcaldine is situated at the crossroads of the Matilda and Capricorn Ways.