Emerald is a town in the Central Highlands Region, Queensland, Australia. At the 2016 Census, Emerald had an urban population of approximately 13,500. The town is the business centre for the Central Highlands Regional Council.
Emerald lies on the Nogoa River, a tributary of the Fitzroy River. The town lies almost 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the coast and approximately 270 kilometres (170 mi) west of the city of Rockhampton on the junction of the Capricorn and Gregory highways. The Tropic of Capricorn intersects the Gregory Highway just north of Emerald.
The original inhabitants include the Gayiri Aborigninal group who occupied the area for tens of thousands of years before European colonisation began in the nineteenth century.
The first European to explore the area was Ludwig Leichhardt between 1843 and 1845. The British Colony of Queensland was established in 1859. Emerald was established in 1879 as a base for the Central line from Rockhampton. Emerald Post Office opened on 5 June 1879.
The new Emerald Library building opened in 1994.
Some of the recorded floods to have occurred in the region include 1863, 1864, 1868, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1875, 1876, 1878, 1882, 1887, 1890, 1894, 1896, 1898, 1906, 1912, 1918, 1920s, 1950 (where 1103.77 mm rain was recorded in Queensand), 1956 was the wettest year on record with 1032.29 mm rainfall. The 1970s also had similar rainfall to the 1860s and 1870s.
Prior to the 1990s, flood damage to residential properties was almost non-existent. The biggest impact of flooding of the Nogoa River in Emerald itself was that one side of Emerald was cut off from the other and caravans at the Carinya Caravan Park would be towed to higher ground each time the Nogoa River rose, to prevent the caravans from being completely submerged. This caravan park is now the site of the Centro Property where Coles Supermarket and other businesses operate. A former swamp area is now part of Kidd Street (a housing development) which was an old river course. The watercourse that extended along the back of the hospital, past the rear of Woolworths and past the Information Centre has been converted into a channel with a concrete section on one side near the information centre, reducing the channel in size by approximately two-thirds. This area has been allowed to be developed in the vicinity of Creek Street.
Fairbairn Dam overflowed for the first time in 17 years on 19 January 2008. Major flooding in Emerald occurred a few days later as the Nogoa River broke its banks. The floods resulted in 1,000 houses being affected and more than 2,500 people being evacuated. The 2008 floods did not reach the heights of flooding in previous years.
Emerald has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 13,532 people in Emerald.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 3.6% of the population.
- 73.8% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were New Zealand 4.3%, Philippines 1.6%, South Africa 1.1% and England 1.1%.
- 81.4% of people spoke only English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Afrikaans at 0.8%.
- The most common responses for religion were Catholic 26.3%, No Religion 21.1% and Anglican 15.4%.
Emerald is a service town for a large number of industries in the area. Extensive coal mining operations are carried out in the district. Cotton is grown in the area, and is processed at the Yamala Cotton Gin, while other agricultural activities include grape, citrus and grain growing.
The citrus industry was severely affected by a citrus canker outbreak that started in 2004 and was declared over in early 2009. More than half a million citrus trees located around Emerald had to be destroyed.
Emerald Solar Park is immediately west of the town and generates up to 65MW of electricity since October 2018.
Emerald has a humid subtropical climate with warm to hot summers and mild, dry winters. Maximum temperatures range from 34 °C in January to 22 °C in July, while minimums range from 22 °C to 7 °C. The average annual rainfall is 641.2 mm. The wettest year on record was 1407.2 mm in 1956. Extremes of temperature have ranged from 48.6 °C to −5.6 °C, while the wettest 24 hours on record was 182.0 mm on 25 February 1975.
Climate data for Emerald Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Record high °C (°F) 48.6
Average high °C (°F) 34.2
Average low °C (°F) 21.7
Record low °C (°F) 7.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 103.4
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 8.3 7.7 6.1 3.8 3.7 3.3 3.2 2.8 2.8 4.6 5.8 7.4 59.5 Source: Bureau of Meteorology
To the west of the town is an area known as The Gemfields, with small towns such as Sapphire and Rubyvale indicating the type of gems found there. The sapphire fields located here are the largest in the southern hemisphere.
The Fairbairn Dam, a short drive to the south of the town, was opened in 1972, and holds back the waters of Lake Maraboon. The lake covers an area of up to 150 km², making it one of the largest artificial lakes in the country. When full, it holds more water than Sydney Harbour. This extensive water supply has allowed the cotton industry to flourish in the area, and the lake is a boon for local water sports.
Emerald has ten schools: six primary schools, three secondary schools, and a distance education school. There are three public primary schools, Denison State School, Emerald North State School, and Emerald State School. Emerald North State School opened on 1 October 1879 and Emerald North State School was opened on 29 January 1980. Marist College Emerald, St Patrick's, St Brigid's and Emerald Christian College (ECC) are private schools. The only public high school in Emerald is Emerald State High School. Capricornia School of Distance Education shares a campus with Denison State School. The small community of Gindie exists approximately 23 kilometres (14 mi) south of Emerald on the Gregory Highway. It is also home to a primary school established in 1897, Gindie State School. The school closed in 1949 and subsequently reopened.
Central Queensland University has a campus in Emerald.
The Central Queensland News is the local Emerald newspaper, now a weekly incorporating the Blackwater Herald. It was until recently[when?] published each Wednesday and Friday. The newspaper focuses on local news and sport directly relevant to the Central Highlands region.
Emerald is served by two local commercial stations, one local ABC station and one local community station.
4HI is the oldest local radio station in Emerald, beginning transmissions from their local studio in November 1981. The station offers local breakfast and drive programming from their Emerald studio and carries nationally syndicated programming from 2GB Sydney.
In the late 1990s, youth-orientated commercial station Hot FM was launched in Emerald. Even though the station plays local commercials and imaging on a local frequency, no programming on the station originates from Emerald. Until 2013, the breakfast program which aired on Hot FM in Emerald was a regionally networked program from Townsville. It was subsequently replaced with the Hot FM CQ breakfast program that originates from Gladstone.
Emerald is served by ABC Capricornia, the region's ABC Local Radio station. ABC Capricornia is broadcast on a local frequency, but no programming originates from Emerald as the station's local breakfast and morning programs are relayed to the Emerald transmitter from Rockhampton.
Emerald is also served by local community radio station, 4EEE.
Emerald receives all available ABC and commercial television stations from Rockhampton, and therefore local news bulletins Seven Local News and WIN News are broadcast to Emerald, with the bulletins occasionally featuring local news from the Central Highlands region.
- Mitchell Langerak, Australian footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for the La Liga club Levante Unión Deportiva, S.A.D. and the Australian National Football Team.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Emerald (Significant Urban Area)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
- "2011 Census Community Profiles: Emerald". ABS Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- "Emerald (entry 11598)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Travel: Emerald". theage.com.au. The Age Company. 8 February 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
- "Public Libraries Statistical Bulletin 2016-17" (PDF). Public Libraries Connect. State Library of Queensland. November 2017. p. 12. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
- "Emerald engulfed by spreading flood waters". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 January 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
- "Overflowing dam to supply years of water to Emerald district". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
- "Emerald Railway Station Complex (entry 600490)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- "Citrus canker disease officially eradicated from Qld". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
- "Emerald Post Office". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
- Penguin Books Australia (2002). Explore Queensland. Camberwell, Victoria: Penguin Books Australia. p. 40. ISBN 0-14-300015-2.
- "Opening and closing dates of Queensland schools (D-F)". education.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- "Opening and closing dates of Queensland schools (G)". education.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- "Emerald Library". Public Libraries Connect. State Library of Queensland. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
- "Branch Locations". Queensland Country Women's Association. Retrieved 26 December 2018.