Central Highlands

Blackwater’s heritage and substantial export earnings has earned it the title of ‘Coal Capital of Queensland’. As a significant point of interest in the ‘Dig the Tropic – Geo Trail’, this area is home to six major open cut coal mines and one underground mine and provide the main employment for the town. 

Coal was discovered in the Blackwater area in 1845 by Ludwig Leichhardt. He travelled through the district in 1845 on his way to Port Essington in the Northern Territory. Twenty-seven kilometres from the present site of Blackwater, Leichhardt observed ‘beds of coal indistinguishable from those on the Hunter at Newcastle’. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the town really started to develop. In 1959–60 coking coal was found to the south of the town. A mining lease was granted in 1965 and in 1967 the first mine in the area started operating. It is claimed that in 1962 the town’s population was only 25. Twenty years later it had grown to over 5000.

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Turning off the Capricorn Highway into Blackwater you will find that there is a lot more than meets the eye. Blackwater is the second largest town within the Central Highlands and offers all major services. A must do for visitors is a mine tour – see a dragline as high as a 20 storey building, dumper trucks with 4 metre high tyres, and shovels as big as houses! Tours are available Wednesdays and Fridays – for more information contact the Blackwater Information Centre.

Located on the Capricorn Highway, Blackwater also boasts a fine Japanese Garden, reputed to be the best of its kind in regional Queensland. These gardens mark the relationship between Blackwater and its sister city Fujisawa, Japan.

Just 55 kilometres east, you’ll find the spectacular Blackdown Tableland National Park, offering spectacular views and hundreds of plants and wildlife species, some of which are only found in the park. You can enjoy the picnic areas, fireplaces, lookouts, camping area and scenic walking tracks that feature throughout the park.

The Bedford Weir is an impoundment on the Mackenzie River, situated 25 kilometres north of Blackwater. The area is suitable for overnight stays and water, toilets and showers are available. There are wood barbeques and a children’s playground in shaded areas by the river – making it an ideal picnic spot.

The Weir is a popular destination for boating, skiing and fishing and has been stocked with sports fish including baramundi and saratoga. Anglers are welcome to drop in a line. Don’t miss the saratoga fishing competition in September.

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