Set at the top of a ridge with fine views, Emerald is an attractive town located 55 km south-east of Melbourne in the Dandenong Ranges, at an altitude of 318 metres. It was the first settlement in the Dandenongs. The Puffing Billy tourist steam train, which runs between Belgrave and Gembrook has a station at Emerald and another at Emerald Lakeside Park. Some services terminate at Emerald Lakeside Park station.
Solo One, a TV series screened in 1976, was set in Emerald. Starring Paul Cronin as Sen. Const. Gary Hogan, it was about a local (fictional) policeman dealing with crime in the town. Filming of A Country Practice in the fictional town of Wandin Valley was moved to Emerald when the show moved to Network Ten in 1994.
Emerald Lake Park: This 50-ha heritage park is open every day (hours vary on a seasonal basis). The Puffing Billy Railway has a station at Emerald Lake Park which serves as a terminus for some services. Emerald Lake Park features old exotic tree species and expanses of lawn, amenities such as picnic and barbecue facilities, an Environment Centre (Ph. 03-5968 5095), free trout fishing opportunities for those with a licence (children under 16 do not require a licence if accompanied by an adult), a free and supervised swimming pool, children's playground, electric barbecues and picnic facilities.
Emerald Lake Model Railway: Located at Emerald Lake, this is the largest HO scale model display in the southern hemisphere. It features 2 km of track, detailed scenery, 370 working engines, 450 cars and trucks, 250 houses and buildings, street and platform lights, 1100 trees, 1500 people, and push-button participation. It is open from 11.30 a.m. Tuesday to Sunday plus all school and public holidays and is located adjacent Lakeside train station. Ph (03) 5968 3455.
Cardinia Reservoir: Located to the south and south-west of town, this reservoir is Melbourne's largest water storage area. It has a shoreline of 56 km. There is a section of parkland on the south-western shore which has picnic-barbecue facilities and there are views of the reservoir from Duffys Lookout. There are also walking trails and kangaroos can be seen in the area.
Bimbimbie Wildlife Park: On the Southern side of the Reservoir there is a large park run by Parks Victoria. It features deer, wombats, kangaroos, emus and farm animals in walk-through enclosures. There is an animal nursery, a large drive-in picnic area with shelters and barbecue facilities and a kiosk/tearoom. It is open daily from 10.00 a.m., closing at 4.00 p.m. on weekends and at dusk on weekdays. Ph: (03) 5942 7238.
Australian Rainbow Trout Farm: Located to the north-east of Emerald in the Macclesfield area. You can catch your own fish and picnic amidst the mountain ash and bellbirds. Tackle is provided and there are barbecue facilities, a kiosk and a playground. They are open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily. Ph: (03) 5968 4711.
Butterfield Picnic Ground and Wildlife Reserve: A wildlife corridor located adjacent to Woori Yallock Creek. Head north of Emerald on the Monbulk-Emerald Rd. After about 5 km there is a signposted turnoff on the right to the reserve.
The Great Train Race: The Great Train Race is an annual fun run from Belgrave to Emerald Lake in which participants attempt to beat Puffing Billy to the finish line and is organised by volunteers of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society.
The route from Belgrave to Emerald Lake which participants run is 13.2 km long, and in 2006 had 2,403 participants in the 25th Great Train Race. Participants of the GTR may win prizes; The first Male and Female runners of the 2007 GTR held on 6 May received a return flight to Antarctica as well as a unique Great Train Race trophy.
PAVE Arts Festival: The PAVE Festival is the largest festival in the Dandenong Ranges and Cardinia Shire, running over 5 -6 days and incorporating all forms of the Arts. PAVE stands for Performing And Visual arts in Emerald , which is an Annual Festival which takes place every year in Mid April. The PAVE Festival ran for its sixth year in 2011. The festival includes a number of activities taking place at different locations around Emerald over a number of days. Such activities include the Emerald Arts Society art exhibition at the Environment Centre at Emerald Lake, a burlesque dance and circus performance, the popular Women in Song featuring 4 female singer songwriters, live Comedy, a photography exhibition, an exhibition and demonstration of local art courses and lessons, The Emerald FunFest, Literary events such as Poet s Breakfast, Yarn Event and Golden Cow Literary night, Voice concert, classical performance by Dandenong Ranges Orchestra, Storytelling, Open Gardens, a historic tour of Emerald and top quality live music.
Paul Cronin as Sen. Const. Gary Hogan in the TV series, Solo One