Sixty-six kilometres south on the Gregory Highway from Emerald, the pioneer town of Springsure is the oldest settlement on Queensland’s central highlands.
The town grew from a nest of shearing huts in the 1850s as more and more teamsters hauling wool to the coast began using the tiny settlement as a staging post.
Springsure is set among craggy volcanic peaks and the lookout on nearby Mt Zamia affords sweeping views over the tablelands. The town boasts a koala colony, stands of ancient macrozamia palms which grow on the slopes of Mt Zamia, and a museum whose displays include an engine from a World War II aircraft which crashed in Carnarvon Gorge in 1942, killing all on board.
In 1861 on Cullin-la-Ringo station to the north, a massacre of 19 white people by Kairi Aborigines in reprisal for atrocities meted out by the settlers sent such a wave of fear through the area that homesteaders built fortifications on their land. The remains of Rainworth Fort built of mud and basalt blocks can still be seen on Old Rainsworth Station just outside Springsure.