Capella › Crinum Mine › Lilyvale Waterhole › Kestrel Mine › Peak Range Lookout › Capella
Commence at the Post Office, and drive along Conran Street to join Yan Yan Road.
You pass through broadacre farming country with the Peak Range on your left, before you come to a right turn at the T-junction 8.3km from the Post Office. This right turn is a continuation of Yan Yan Road and will take you passed some of the coal mines in the Peak Downs District.
For the next couple of kilometres on the sides of the road, you can see the thick tufty Buffel Grass that was imported from America for improved pasture.
You pass, on the right, the Montrose Road turn 15.1km from the Post Office.
14.8km past the Montrose Road turn, on your left, you can see the start of the huge overburden heaps of the Gregory Open Cut Coal Mine. A further 3.7km brings you to the T-junction of the Yan Yan Road with the Lilyvale Road. Turn left here and then pass what was the entrance to Crinum – Gregory Mines Administration Centre 0.5km along on the left. Continue 2.0km and just over Crinum Creek on your left again, you will find the permanent waters of the Lilyvale Waterhole. Here also is the old Lilyvale site - the original town of the former Peak Downs Shire 1903 - 2008. Peak Downs Shire was amalgamated with the Bauhinia, Emerald and Duaringa Shire Councils to become the Central Highlands Regional Council in March 2008. The former Shire area is now known as the Peak Downs District.
Lilyvale was established following the start of its surrounding pastoral industry and the discovery of gold around Clermont in 1861. The original town plan was drawn up by pioneer surveyor, Charles Gregory in 1862. It was located on the Cobb and Co coach route between Clermont and Rockhampton. When the prohibitive cost of building a bridge across the Mackenzie River diverted the rail line through to Emerald and on to Capella, Lilyvale began to decline. Many of the houses were dismantled, transported to Capella and rebuilt. In 1933 all freehold lots were resumed and the streets closed in 1934. Today, the shelter built for Bicentenary celebrations sits on the site of the Lilyvale Hotel and crinum lilies flower after rains.
The underground Kestrel Mine access road turn is 1km, on the right, past Lilyvale. You can see some of the above ground structures, but unfortunately there are no mine tours available. If a coal train is loading you can sit in your car on the mine access roadside to watch – but do not enter the mine site itself. On your left you have a clear view of the overburden heaps of Gregory Mine.
9.4km from the T-junction and you can see the electric train line that was constructed to take Central Highlands coal to the port in Gladstone. A further 4km is the junction of the line that runs back to the Hay Point coal loading facility near Mackay. This enables coal to be shipped from two (2) ports as shipping requires.
Turn around and retrace your steps to the Lilyvale/Yan Yan T-junction, but stay on the Lilyvale Road. The property Gordon Downs is now on your left. The district’s Gordon Downs, Logan Downs and Peak Downs woolsheds were instrumental in the start of the Great Shearer's Strike in 1891.
At the Logan Downs Roll Call on 6 January 1891, the Great Shearer's Strike over low pay and bad conditions began. Shortly after, the action moved to Gordon Downs and by the end of January, the ‘Big Union Guns’ had arrived on the scene. After a time they set up their headquarters up in Barcaldine - because of its central location in the vast wool producing area. Members of the Capella Pioneer Village committee have dismantled an original Gordon Downs woolshed and have reassembled it at its Capella complex.
Gordon Road is 13.1km from the T-junction on the right. It will bring you back to the Gregory Highway about half way between Capella and Emerald.
You pass through farming and grazing country for another 13.8km until you come to the T-junction with the Gregory Highway. Turn right and head back to Capella.
As you pass the property Lucknow 10km along, you can see the high dingo fences used to keep dingoes out of the sheep paddocks. Lucknow is one of the few properties on the Central Highlands to run sheep now. Most were wiped out during the big 1969 drought after which graziers turned fully to beef production - mainly with the old European breeds. But over the years they have turned to the more drought and tick resistant Brahman or Brahman Cross cattle. On the right, you can see the Peak Range again as you pass the other end of Gordon Road, 12.4km from the T-junction.
The western end of Montrose Road is 8.1km further on. There is a Lookout providing a panoramic view over the downs country to the Peak Range on Springvale hill 32.9km from the T-junction. Capella is just down in the valley 2.7km away.
When you reach Capella again you might like to fuel up at the service station with the shearer out the front and plan your visit the Capella Pioneer Village to learn more of the area’s social and agricultural history, including the beginnings of modern broadacre farming with the Queensland - British Food Corporation project. The Capella Pioneer Village is open Thursday and Sunday mornings from 9am to 1pm (last entry12 noon) during autumn, winter and spring.
Total length of the fully sealed tour is 115km.