There’s two ways to do this drive – just smash out the super short version – direct and only just over three hours. You’ll get to Rolleston early and can go hiking in the world renowned Carnarvon Gorge and Carnarvon National Park before the show.
Or sleep in, add an hour to the trip and go via Emerald – that’s the trip we’ve broken down below
If you’re into trees, Duaringa is the stop for you. It’s home to the rare native (you can only find it in a very few areas) Budgeroo, or the Duaringa stringy bark.
Budgeroo is an Australian hardwood and considered to be one of Australia’s most beautifully grained timbers. It’s no longer available to commercial timber merchants, but you can see the live trees in Mackenzie Park and imagine the ropes, baskets and building materials local Indigenous owners used to create from the bark of these incredible culturally significant trees.
Don’t forget to stop by the Visitor Centre on the way out – check out the amazing mural by local artists, and snag some unique trinkets.
This is where the road splits – you’ll need to head south to take the quickest route to Rolleston if you’d rather get to town early and check out the gorge, or continue west to Emerald if you’d prefer a more scenic route. We’ve taken the scenic route below!
Despite the charming name conjuring up visions of the wizard’s city in Oz and rollicking green jewels, Emerald is in fact home to the Sapphire Gemfields, one of the richest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re feeling lucky, try your luck fossicking!
If you prefer the jewels of the ocean, grab some supplies in town and take a lunch picnic to Lake Maraboon, just south of town and on the route to Rolleston. You can fish there – you can even get red claw right from the shore!
Before you leave Emerald though, you absolutely must stop to see Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ – the super size version. Yes, Emerald is home to the world’s biggest replica of the famous painting – 25m high! It’s a tribute to the region’s former landscape – once, it was covered in fields of golden flowers.
The big ticket item on the road here is definitely Virgin Rock, which is situated four kilometres from Springsure is on the eastern side of Mount Zamia and has a naturally formed likeness to the Virgin Mary and Child. There’s a nice park to sit and stretch your legs in too!
Halfway between Emerald and Rolleston is Springsure, a lovely place to stop for a coffee you can check out the Old Rainworth Station, a preserved historical station which includes both the Cairdbeign School (dating from 1896) and the Cairdbeign Homestead (a seven roomed slab homestead dating from the 1870s).
Our favourite thing in this little slice of the trip is the combination of the windmill in Jaycee’s Park – it’s huge – and the sunflowers that have sprung out of the rich black soil to the south of the town. In season, there’s fields and fields shining their faces to the sun. The whole prospect is simply… sunny.
Rolleston is super cute, and while it has a heart the size of an elephant, its physical layout is compact as you could hope. Stretch your legs and come down to the hall early to chat to the excellent locals and share in the BBQ.
If you buy your ticket online, we’ll donate $2 of the price to Rural Aid.