Fairbairn Dam is located 25 kilometres southwest of Emerald, in Central Queensland, almost on top of the Tropic of Capricorn line. Fairbairn Dam was constructed in 1972 across the Nogoa River “Gap” creating Lake Maraboon and is Queensland’s second largest lake. Maraboon is the Aboriginal for “where the black ducks fly”.
The primary purpose of Fairbairn Dam is for irrigation. About 300 irrigators are supplied with water for cotton, citrus and other horticulture operations. The dam is relatively shallow with large areas of standing timber. There are no boating restrictions and one concrete boat ramp.
The construction of the Fairbairn Dam and its associated Lake Maraboon also initiated the commencement of large-scale coal mining within the Bowen Basin in 1977; which produced a significant proportion of Queensland’s total coal exports, shaping the township of Emerald into what you see today.