Rockhampton to Emerald via the Sandstone Wonders


Rockhampton | Emerald

Australia's Country Way

Take a scenic drive from Rockhampton to Emerald through the magnificent Sandstone Wonders



Australia’s Beef Capital, Rockhampton, lies on the banks of the Fitzroy River. Look out for the bull statues situated throughout the city celebrating the breeds grown in the area. Fish for barramundi more than a metre long in the river right outside the CBD. The city was built on wealth from colonial pastures and gold mines. That wealth is reflected in the colonial buildings along Quay Street – one of Queensland’s finest heritage precincts, crowned by the sandstone and copper dome of the Customs House. Rockhampton also boasts many famous hotels such as the Heritage and Great Western – famous for its rodeo ring. The Leichhardt Way winds its way from Rockhampton to Mount Morgan set in the pretty Dee Ranges. Once the largest and richest single gold mine in the world, Mount Morgan, is one of Queensland’s historical gems and is only 38 km from Rockhampton. The hum of machinery and rattling thump of explosives at the mine are long gone and in their place are a legacy of history and a spirited community. To discover Mount Morgan’s treasures, visit the Mount Morgan Visitor Information Centre where locals will share their knowledge of their town and where to stay in a number of accommodation options.



The northernmost town in the Banana Shire Dululu is a junction point that is a launching pad to the Sandstone Wonders and perfect place to stop, rest and make your touring plans. The ‘rest area’ located near the tennis courts and public toilets has a sheltered BBQ and picnic area. The cricket oval and practice nets are nearby. Behind the courts, overnight facilities, such as power and hot showers, are available for a nominal charge.

Head south on the Burnett Highway until you reach Jambin. The Jambin Hotel is on the highway. Weekends are a chance to take to the skies with a scenic glider flight. Local events at the Jambin Recreation Reserve are listed on the Sandstone Wonders website.

Spots of interest includeMonument to early cotton pioneers, 32 km north at the Dixalea-Deeford Road, Jambin Cemetery, Don River crossing, 22km north of Jambin along the highway, Jambin Cemetery.



Biloela still retains that relaxed, country feeling. The Queensland Heritage Park and Spirit of the Land Mural pay homage to the men, women and machinery that over generations, have created a legacy of prosperity. Rambling homesteads grace hillsides and streetscapes. The heritage listed Greycliffe Homestead can be found on the outskirts of town. The wide verandah and quaint interior have changed little since they were first conceived. Further out, Kilburnie Homestead still operates as a working concern, with descendants of the Campbell family continuing to make their mark. In a typical show of country hospitality, for four months each year, Kilburnie celebrates its long unbroken history, throwing the doors open for fun weekends of music and nostalgia. Many festivals and events cram the annual calendar, along with frequent exhibitions staged at the Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery.  The Shire has a lively arts fraternity and the gallery proudly features the works of local artisans as well as the offerings of others from much further afield. Callide Dam – located 12km east of Biloela, a popular spot for fisherman and families.  The dam is well stocked with red claw, barramundi and more and the recreation area offers families a great spot for a BBQ lunch with new amenities and a playground for the kids. Cabins and a camping area provide restful accommodation for those wanting to stay longer.



Banana, on the junction of the Leichhardt and Dawson Highways, 46 km west of Biloela is strangely no home to plantations of the well-known yellow fruit, instead, the town and the shire owe their name to a much-revered bullock, Banana. In the 1850’s Moses Wafer’s now famous yellow bullock was known for mustering scrubbers (unbranded wild cattle). On his death the station, the town and the shire adopted his name. A monument celebrates the noble beast in Banana Park. Go to the itineraries button on the home page to see side trips from Banana including the Banana Loop.

Moura is a central point and vibrant community for the people who serve its local industries – the farmers, growers and miners and their families that help to make Queensland great. Lying in the heart of the Dawson Valley, not far from the Dawson River, its parklands and public facilities, festivals and events, river fishing and water sports attract thousands of visitors each year.

While in Moura visit the Water Tower Memorial, Miners Memorial and the Coal & Country Museum (open Wednesdays and Saturdays in peak season).



Apex River Park, on the Dawson River is 7.5 km from Moura on the Dawson Highway. The park is a hub for the community and a focal point for annual events such as the Muddy Water Family Fishing Classic and Dawson River Festival. For those who are after free camping facilities, the park has plenty of sites, a boat ramp and amenities.

Rolleston, 149 km from Moura along the Dawson Highway, is in the southeast of Queensland’s Central Highlands and is the nearest town to the world-renowned Carnarvon Gorge and Carnarvon National Park. Boasting a diverse pastoral history, the township of Rolleston is also famous for the notorious Patrick and James Kenniff – Queensland’s last legendary bushrangers.

The traditional owners of the area surrounding Rolleston are the Karingal Aboriginal people who lived in the Arcadia Valley. A story from the dreaming of the Karingal mob tells of Lake Nuga Nuga, home of Mundagarri, the Rainbow Serpents who live under the two dominating peaks of the northern shoreline of the lake. The story tells that if the Rainbow Serpents are disturbed in their homes they will leave and the lakes will dry up.

European settlement came along shortly after the area was discovered by Ludwig Leichhardt. Today Rolleston lies in the centre of a rich, resourceful and productive valley, bordered by the sandstone cliffs that follow the edges of the Carnarvon, Expedition and Shotover Ranges.



Situated in a delightful valley with spectacular Mount Zamia and Virgin Rock overlooking the town, Springsure is located 66 kilometres south of Emerald on the Gregory Highway section of the Great Inland Way. If you hadn’t already guessed, the town was given its name thanks to the springs located in the creek and gullies at the time of settlement. The Visitor Information Centre at the Federation Woolshed in Rich Memorial Park is a good place to begin your stay. The heritage listed Hospital and museum contain many interesting relics. The old Rainworth Fort is 10 km south of Springsure, its made up of the stone ‘fort’ and Cairdbeign Homestead and school. The region has several National Parks worth visiting. Minerva Hills; Ka Ka Mundi and Salvator Rosa sections of the Carnarvon National Park. For more information on the National Parks visit



En route northwards to Emerald take the opportunity to turn off the highway and visit Fairburn Dam and Lake Maraboon. The lake is stocked with eight different species of fish including barramundi, saratoga, perch, bass and delicious red claw crayfish. Go boating, swimming or just relax at the picnic tables under the shade. If you’d like to spend some time here there’s a caravan park, cabins and camping area. Built in 1972 the Fairburn Dam and Emerald Irrigation scheme opened up significant development and expansion of agriculture across the region. Lake Maraboon is Queensland’s second largest lake and at peak capacity holds five times the capacity of Sydney Harbour. The primary purpose of the dam is irrigation with water supplied for cotton, citrus and horticulture. It also assisted development of large-scale coal mining in the Bowen Basin which today produces around 80% of Queensland’s coal exports. Emerald is situated on the intersection of the Capricorn Way and the Gregory Highway section of the Great Inland Way. It is the regional centre and thriving hub for many government facilities including council, education, health and industries including mining, beef cattle, cotton, cropping, sunflowers, citrus, gemstones and tourism. It was established in 1879 as a base for building the railway. The Botanic Gardens on the banks of the Nogoa River are a must see. The 42 hectares of garden are on both sides of the river and include a rose garden, maze, wedding chapel, sculptures, rainforest and 6 km of walking tracks. Check out the ‘big sunflower’, building on its reputation as a major sunflower producer Emerald is home to the world’s biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel in Morton Park. Visit the information centre adjacent for more information. The National Trust listed railway station built in 1900 and restored in 1986 is a must to visit and admire the ornate wrought iron lacework and pillared portico. Look at the Capricorn Way for travel back to Rockhampton or to Barcaldine and the Outback.