Established in 1879 as a base for the building of the western railway, Emerald was named after 'Emerald Downs Hill', a lush emerald green hill located just north of town. It is also the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields: the largest, and one of the richest sapphire fields in the southern hemisphere.  Keen anglers will appreciate Fairbairn Dam's Lake Maraboon, which is stocked with eight different fish species including barramundi, but it is famous for the Red Claw Crayfish.