I wasn’t going to do a post for Emu Park as we considered it as our home…the intent of the blog was not to simply write about where we lived… but having spent almost a year here, I just had to write about this charming little place called Emu Park. To set things up my darling bride was given a short term job in Emu Park in the midst of all of the travel chaos that was created during COVID. Given that we could not really travel abroad she took the job while we waited for the world to open up again.
We had, for a long time, said that we were always planning to retire in Western Australia having fallen in love with the lifestyle and climate. Well Emu Park had us seriously questioning this thought.
Lets get some context here because most people have never heard of the place. Emu park is a small coastal community of around 2000 people in central Queensland, situated in the middle of what they call the Capricorn Coast. This is a 75km stretch of coastline taking in dozens of small towns and numerous islands. The closest big town is Rockhampton which is about 30 mins away (west) and Yeppoon is a short 15 min drive (north). Between Yeppoon and Emu Park is Rosslyn Bay which is the launching place for travellers heading over to Great Keppel Island.
Context over…the place is stunning. The entire Capricorn coast is basically a series of long sweeping beaches and inlets, shallow blue water, with stunning views virtually everywhere you look. There are more caravan parks than you can poke a stick at (but they are also seriously popular) and holidaymakers regularly flood the place. If you are driving the coast road (heading south), virtually every corner will open you up to incredible coastal vistas overlooking the islands of the Capricorn Coast.
The town was originally established in the 1870’s when people from Rockhampton started setting up their holiday homes by the water. The current town itself is pretty small with most of the activity happening within a 2 block radius that revolves around the local grocery store (Drakes). That said, you can buy virtually anything you could want at the store and both the staff and service is efficient and friendly. Also in the main area is the post office, chemist, a couple of cafe’s and bakeries, a few hairdressers and real estates along with some specialty shops such as the butcher, hardware, clothing etc.
The remainder of the activities revolve around the park, beachside and foreshore. The first thing that you notice is the welcoming nature of the locality. The parks and open spaces are maintained meticulously. From the kid friendly parks, rides and attractions through to the more impressive and adult friendly Anzac Memorial the place is just pleasant to be. Even the toilet blocks at the local Surf Lifesaving Club have fun and entertaining murals adorning them.
The Anzac Memorial was originally opened in 2015 to coincide with the Centenary of ANZAC and has continued to be built upon ever since. Memorial Court (pictured below) was the first part to come into existence with the Memorial walk and gatehouse to follow shortly thereafter. The Gatehouse provides a timeline of the major battles of World War I and focusses on the contributions made by a range of local veterans who were involved in WWI.
Queensland tourism tells me that the walkway was “intended as an emotional reflective experience that provides a timeline of WW1’s many major battles of war”. The walk itself starts at the Memorial Court and follows the coastline passing a range of sandstone blocks holding pictographs that highlight various aspects of WWI. There is a glass memorial that depicts the Australian soldiers landing at Gallipoli. The idea is to be there at dawn and line up the horizon to get a sense of the landing. From here you keep meandering up the hill to the Gatehouse which contains storyboards and pictures of locals.
From the gatehouse a wooden boardwalk takes you past a series of battle markers that depict the various campaigns of WWI and some silhouettes, pausing at a lookout overlooking the islands of the Capricorn Coast. From here the walkway continues up the hill culminating at the Singing Ship. This whole walk is only around 400 meters and has been brilliantly done.
The Singing Ship is a monument that was established to commemorate the historical explorations of Captain James Cook, who discovered this bay in May 1770. It was designed to represent the mast, sail and rigging of the Endeavour. Concealed organ pipes within the sculpture pick up the sea breeze, creating music, hence the name.
In addition to the ANZAC Memorial walk there is also the Emu Park Historical trail which walks you around the town and highlights and describes the historical nature of things. The signs even have QR codes on them to help with the experience. But possibly the best bit is the fact that the signs are made from iron emu sculptures.
Well that covers off on the touristy elements of the town but doesn’t touch upon the reason why we were thinking of changing our plans on the best place for retirement…the people. Admittedly we worked hard to meet and get to know as many people as we could as we were due to be here for a while. But almost without exception we were welcomed everywhere we went. My first move was to join the local footy tipping comp at the pub. Within weeks I had a wide range of people who knew me and we were chatting away. From here, Jill joined the bowls club (for meals…not bowling) and it took us a while but we worked out when the RSL was open and then we both joined in up there. Almost immediately we were welcomed at all places and by virtually all people.
If you are ever looking for a place to visit and kick back then this may be the place for you.