Emerald - The Oasis in the Highlands - QLD
This is a truly premium smoko stop and almost in the centre of Emerald. What makes it so unique is it is actually part of the Botanical Gardens and there are excellent opportunities to picnic, walk, run or cycle. This whole area is an absolute credit to the local council and others who have "adopted" a section.
Herbs - roses - palms - bamboo - gum trees are just a few sections to be found in a walk around the well grassed lawns. Many of the underplantings are commonly grown species such as cannas, Boston ferns, and lomandra grasses. When massed as the landscapers have done here, something not so ordinary can be achieved.
Walking tracks are pebbled concrete through the more formal areas or dirt through the casual groupings of trees As the Nogoa River forms the left hand boundary of the gardens, you can meander through the various nominated gardens, one way and return via the river bank to see the numerous wood ducks and water hens enjoying a ready made feed through the weedy topped water.
Specially constructed seats for children (low) and adults (normal) height are scattered throughout, as well as play areas including monkey bars, swings, climbing stairs and slides, with heaps to keep an active child or two occupied whilst parents or grandparents get cooking on one of the several BBQ plates (with wood supplied) nearby.
If you don't fancy a picnic on the grass, then maybe one of the gazebos is more to your liking. Another plus are the extra facilities provided such as the bubbler fountains which are set in large rocks, the excellent toilets - these are very clean, flush, lit at night and are only 100 metres from the parking area. We also liked all the exercise stations scattered throughout the gardens. We were rather amazed to find such an exotic rose garden way up the back - delightful.
We, of course, had to check out the herb gardens and found most of the normal culinary types plus several sweet smelling lavenders. The rose garden would be a must visit when flowering. Every bush is named and there would have to be a couple of hundred and not one did I see repeated. Climbers had been provided with their own trellises and Rex our Border Collie quickly decided that these well installed just for doggies!
As well as the walking tracks, there are running tracks through the bush - just walk over the old bridge, turn right and you will see well sign posted entry points. As you have probably already gathered - dogs are most welcome. Another great feature for kiddies (and big kids) is a monorail that runs around the gardens. The river runs along one boundary and is quite picturesque. Refilling with water is a breeze. The tap is a bit hard to find. It's on the garden side of one of the pylons near the entrance. The town water is quite good.
You can if you wish park on the bitumen or on the grass beside the river. Shopping wise Coles is only a 5 minute walk across and up the road a bit, so supplies for smoko are quite close at hand.
Duration is limited to 20 hours if you wish to overnight. The council are to be commended for providing this excellent facility. Other major centres in this general area aren't as well covered with Roma etc. having no suitable areas that we could find. We absolutely recommend the Emerald Botanic Gardens.
Bob & Chrissy Eustace
Hema 8 H7
Camp 212 CAW page 40