Emerald is a town in the Central Highlands Region, Queensland, Australia. At June 2015 Emerald had an estimated urban population of 15,225. 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 area was originally owned by Aboriginal groups (for example, the Gayiri) for tens of thousands of years before European colonisation 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. European colonisation of central Queensland was disastrous for the pre-existing Aboriginal population. It resulted in the violent dispossession of 1,000s of Aboriginal land-owners, theft of their land with no compensation from the Crown, mass-murders, "dispersals" and forced removal and concentration of survivors at government camps. Many of these atrocities were done by the Native Police Force (an arm of the colonial government of Queensland) and by unauthorised militias of pastoral lease-holders and their employees, both functioning as mounted 'death squads'. In just one notorious example, after the massacre of 19 European colonists at Cullin-la-Ringo Station (80 kilometres south-west of Emerald) on 17 October 1861, at least 370 Aboriginal people were indiscriminately murdered by such death squads. The massacre of 19 European colonists was itself a retaliatory response to an earlier shooting of local Gayiri people by Jesse Gregson (manager of nearby Rainsworth Station) with Second Lieutenant Alfred March Patrick and Native Police Troops in his command. One author estimates 24,000 Aboriginal men, women and children died at the hands of the Native Police in colonial Queensland between 1859 and 1897 alone.
Emerald was established in 1879 as a base for the Central line from Rockhampton. Emerald Post Office opened on 5 June 1879.
Fairbairn Dam overflowed for the first time in 17 years on 19 January 2008. Major flooding in Emerald occurred a few days after 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.
Some of the recorded floods have occurred in the region in 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.
Previous to the 1990s, flood damage to residential properties was almost non-existent. The biggest impact from 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 trade from. The swamp area is now part of Kidd Street, a housing development, in which an old river course ran into. The creek that ran along the back of the hospital, past the rear of Woolworths and past the Information Centre has been filled in turned into a channel with a section cemented on one side near the information centre, reducing the channel in size by approx two-thirds. This area has been allowed to be developed. This creek was renamed Creek Street for a short section.
Emerald has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:Clermont Street (Capricorn Highway): Emerald railway station
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 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 49.9 °C to −5.6 °C, while the wettest 24 hours on record was 182.0 mm on 25 February 1975.
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 nine schools: six primary schools and three secondary schools. There are three public primary schools, Denison State School, Emerald North State School and Emerald State School. 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. 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.
Central Queensland University has a campus in Emerald.
The Central Queensland News is the local Emerald newspaper which is issued each Wednesday and Friday. The newspaper focuses on local news and sport directly relevant to Emerald and the Central Highlands.
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 has now been replaced with the more relevant local 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 German 2. Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart.