The Capricorn Region is a real gem, in every sense of the word. You’ll really dig this drive into fossicking country.
Situated along the Tropic of Capricorn from which it borrows its name, Capricorn sits 23.5 degrees south of the Equator and is considered one of the Earth’s major circles of latitude. You’ll find extreme conditions and dramatic landscapes here which make this countryside a living museum bursting with mineral wealth and fossils. Along the way experience animal and plant life, bushwalking, camping, fossicking and swimming.
Start your journey in Australia’s beef capital of Rockhampton, known for its history and heritage. Check out the Rockhampton Heritage Village and Dreamtime Cultural Centre where you can learn about the traditional Aboriginal people of the area, the early days of Aboriginal mythology, and the significance of Kenniff’s cave and historic cattle-duffing in the region.
Drive about 30 minutes north of Rockhampton to the Capricorn Caves, which is known for its stunning rock formations. Dating back 390 million years, explore these caves and learn how the sedimentary limestone rock originated under the sea as coral growing in shallow waters. There’s plenty to do here, whether it is adventure caving, abseiling, climbing and a high ropes course, or a more sedate walk around the built platforms. One of the highlights of a visit here is a regular underground opera whose acoustics bounce beautifully off these walls.
Continue your drive to Mt Hay where you’ll find volcanic birthstones or thunder eggs, the result of this former volcano. While they look pretty plain on the outside, inside, these 120 million-year-old rocks tell stories of their geo journey. Heading further west, you can witness the sandstone plateau rising above the plains at Blackdown Tableland National Park. This National Park is home to ancient Aboriginal rock art and waterfalls and is bordered by high rugged cliffs. Home to the Ghungalu people, there’s plenty of spectacular lookouts, scenic waterfalls and unique plant communities to admire here. Walkers can follow several short tracks along creeks and to lookouts or you can drive the 19km loop road in a 4WD.
You’ll enter coal country at Blackwater, home to the International Coal Centre where you can learn about Australia’s mining industry and the life of early settlers. Families will enjoy this interactive learning experience, which also showcases the massive machinery used today. Once you have the theory, take a guided tour of a real working coal mine first hand in Blackwater.
Continue west past Emerald, where just outside the Town Hall there exists a fossilised tree trunk estimated at 250 million years old. You’re now in Queensland’s Central Highlands where towns such as Anake, Rubyvale, Sapphire and The Willows have the largest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere. This region is renowned for its rich, golden yellow and coloured stones as well as the famous black star sapphires.
Finish your journey in Alpha, where dramatic shifts in Tectonic plates formed the Drummond Range, and from where you can witness petrified wood.
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