For those of you who don’t want to live and die at the New Royal Hotel Rubyvale, Outback Queensland offers a lot of attractions within an easy commute by ute, four-wheel drive, mule or car. Our advice: when the sun goes down, head for the Pub!
GEMFEST – the event of the season! Gemfest is Australia’s four-day premier gem show, usually held in the second week in August, attracting upwards of 200 exhibitors who offer gems, jewellery, crystal minerals and fossils that attracts merchants, miners and rock hounds to the Gemfields. On exhibit are some of the large and rare sapphires found in the area.
Rubyvale Miners Heritage Walk-In Mine – for those times when an instant climate change is welcome! Even on the hottest of days, the temperature down under (down in the mine, that is) is 24-27 degrees C, so each tour is 30 minutes of heat relief. Walk the tunnels and contemplate slipping your body through the ‘tummy tunnels’ used by pioneer miners. Learn the process of underground sapphire mining and gem-cutting from local experts. You can either hire equipment to cut your own precious stones or, perhaps safer for you and sapphires, defer to professionals whose handiwork is for sale in the underground jewellery showroom. If you don’t want to pay retail, try your luck in their fossicking park. There is a picnic area on site but for cold beer, return to the Pub at the NRHR or bring your own bottle from our bottle shop.
97 Heritage Road, Rubyvale QLD 4702
1½ km from Rubyvale); +61 (07) 4985 4444
The Capella Pioneer Village – Home to the carefully restored 1869 Peak Downs Homestead, the Capella Pioneer Village gives you historic insights into life in the first settlement in the area. Its annual Old Machinery and Craft Fair, held on the second Saturday of September at the Village ground, is a highlight featuring craft stalls, entertainment, food, a fashion parade, blacksmithing, and vintage engines and tractors rallying. Open 9.00am to 12noon Wednesday to Friday and Sundays during autumn, winter and spring.
Located on Pioneer Street adjacent to the Gregory Highway, approximately 65 km northeast of Rubyvale; +61 07 4984 9425.
The Pioneer Cottage and Museum – In Emerald, this group of buildings, including one of the first cottages, a gaol and a church, showcases historic memorabilia as well as a collection of early communications items that bound together the far-flung settlements.
48 km east on Capricorn Hwy/A4; +61 07 4982 4142
Lake Maraboon Fairbairn Dam – This freshwater lake, about 18 km southwest of Emerald, is more than three times the size of Sydney Harbour – a wonderful place to enjoy water sports, fishing (barramundi, Mary River cod, bass, silver perch, etc), sailing and picnics. The Fairbairn Dam, constructed in 1972 across the Nogoa River, created the lake mainly for irrigation purposes. Stand near the dam and you are practically at the top of the Tropic of Capricorn. Hint: stock up at the pub and bottle shop before your visit.
Carnarvon Gorge National Park – About 720 km northwest of Brisbane on the way to Rubyvale, this magnificent national park features towering sandstone cliffs, deep-hued gorges and Aboriginal rock art. To see the park properly – 21 km of graded walks, side gorges and Aboriginal sites, plan on spending at least three nights – camp or stay at the Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge. Otherwise get a map from the lodge for short walks to beautiful side gorges and waterfalls. This is a place of great beauty to explore with all your senses. As their website says, ‘You’ll miss a great deal if you just put your head down and plod along the track. Take the time to sit on a rock or a log by the creek “and let the park come to you”. Pause to enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of the bush, and you’ll come back refreshed and recreated.’
Longreach – This village is home to the Qantas Founders Museum, commemorating the small Australian carrier (Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services) that is today a leader in world aviation. Tours include a walk aboard a decommissioned 747, “City of Bunbury” and a Boeing 707, Qantas’ first passenger jet. Also in Longreach is the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, celebrating the history and culture of life in rural Australia. Capricorn Hwy/A4 west about 300 km.
Winton – As long as you are out as far as Longreach, it’s only another 177km northwest to Winton! Along with sheep and cattle, Winton is famous as one of the founding towns of Qantas, the first place that the song “Waltzing Matilda” was performed, and the site of numerous dinosaur fossils, including “Elliot” the sourwood. In 2009, three dinosaur genera – Australovenator, Wintonotitan and Diamantinasaurus – were discovered near the town. Australovenator wintonensis, the type specimen of that genus, is named after the town. While you’re looking out for dinosaur tracks, keep your eyes on the ground for opals – to go with your sapphires from Rubyvale.
These special seasonal events are staged in the winter:
Clermont Gold and Coal Festival – Celebrating the discovery of gold in Clermont in 1862, this two-day festival features a Gold Detecting Competition, Gold Raffle and Gold Wheel. The unique gold mining heritage is further evoked by musicians, poets, and a market fair featuring gold jewellery, nuggets and gems. Try your luck at winning gold nuggets or enter the annual detector competition. You could win your very own MineLab Detector GPX5000 (rrp $6,595) – a veritable invitation to return to the New Royal Hotel Rubyvale to find sapphires and gold!
PO Box 570 Clermont QLD 4721, approximately 90 km from Rubyvale, +61 (07) 4983 1233.
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