Emerald is a small town in the Central Highlands Region of Queensland with a long history of industry and agriculture. A passerby through town might notice the small brown sign near the highway bridge over the Nogoa River, “Botanic Gardens.” Having a couple of hours to spare after flying into the Emerald Airport, and not finding any national parks or nature reserves in close proximity to town, I set off to see what the Botanic Gardens could offer in terms of fresh air, not expecting much but looking for a place to stretch my legs.
The Emerald Botanic Gardens were much more than I imagined. The gardens aren’t fancy but they are quite large, over 100 acres according to ESRI’s GIS software. The property includes sample eco-zone environments from throughout the region, a lake, the Nogoa River, a large historic windmill, and public artworks.
The walking tracks vary from poured concrete, laid bricks, gravel, and dirt. There are no hand-out maps for navigation but a large map is posted near the windmill and the specific botanic areas are labeled with signs.
The rain forest section is home to a large colony of “flying foxes,” aka fruit bats. Since the tree canopy is low, the bats are very close to anyone walking the track. And walking on the track stirs the bats into a flurried panic of activity and screeching, with some bats swooping down and flying along the track from one tree to the next.
Many ducks and other wildlife can be seen at the small lake near the center of the gardens.
Within the garden park property are several non-botanical items of interest:
…a working windmill that was brought here from a nearby historic ranch.
… a garden sculpture represesnting play marbles.
… and a series of pillars depicting important aspects of the community.
Having a decent close-up lens to capture flowering plants is critical when visiting botanical gardens, or anywhere else in Australia.