Emerald is a town and Local Government Area located in the Central Highlands district of Queensland, Australia. The town is the administrative centre for the Emerald Shire, which covers an area of approximately 10,000 square kilometres. At the 2001 census, Emerald had a population of 10,037. Emerald lies on the Nogoa River, a tributary of the Fitzroy River. The town lies almost 300 kilometres from the coast, west of the city of Rockhampton on the junction of the Capricorn and Gregory highways.
Emerald is a service town for a large number of industries in the area. Extensive coal mining operations are carried out in the district. Cotton is grown in the area, and is processed at the Yamala Cotton Gin, while other agricultural activities include grape and grain growing. Extensive grazing holdings are also prevalent in the district.
The Fairbairn Dam, a short drive to the south of the town, was opened in 1972, and holds back the waters of Lake Maraboon. The lake covers an area of up to 150 km², making it one of the largest artificial lakes in the country. When full, it holds more water than Sydney Harbour. This extensive water supply has allowed the cotton industry to flourish in the area, and the lake is a boon for local water sports.
Emerald has seven schools: five primary schools and two secondary schools. The Marist College (high school) and St Patrick’s (primary school) are private schools. The only public high school in Emerald is Emerald State High School.