Welcome to Rockhampton, where the boots, hats, and utes are gigantic, and the cows and bulls are even bigger. With over 2 million cattle within a 220km radius, this riverside town, established in 1858 on land owned by the Darumbal people, calls itself Australia’s Beef Capital. Despite medieval touches such as cane trains running down the center of broad streets, it’s the commercial and administrative center of Central Queensland, with fine Victorian buildings reflecting the area’s 19th-century beef-rearing and mining heyday.
This gorgeous sun-drenched region marks Tropical North Queensland’s southern end and is the gateway to many of the region’s premier outback and outback coastal.
Rockhampton is the perfect base for those setting out to explore the Capricorn Coast and Central Queensland, from the warm tropical coast to the magnificent wilderness and rich history of the hinterland.
How to reach Rockhampton?
Rockhampton Airport is situated to the west of the town. You can fly directly to Rockhampton from Sydney, Brisbane, and Townsville.
You can also reach Rockhampton via car by sealed road, most prominently the Bruce Highway, which goes north from Brisbane, through Rockhampton and Cairns. It is 8 hours driving time along the broad highway from Brisbane.
Here are the top attractions in Rockhampton
When you’re in Rockhampton, take your family out to visit the world-famous Rockhampton Zoo. Set amidst the stunning Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, this free animal display is sure to keep the children (and kids at heart) occupied for hours. The zoo has an extraordinary range of exotic and native animals, including otters, chimpanzees, snakes, wallabies, dingos, and koalas. Take a walk through the Australian rainforest bird aviary, book in for an educational tour, or cuddle a koala. The zoo also has a brilliant café where you can relax, stop and grab a coffee or your brunch. There’s something for the entire family.
Adventure junkies won’t want to miss a visit to Koorana Crocodile Farm. Hold a baby croc in your hands and smile for the photo if you dare! Join the spotlight dinner tour, or visit between Feb and May to see the newborn crocodiles hatching. This popular attraction is 29 kilometers east of Rockhampton, and tours are available daily.
Just 20 minutes’ drive north of the Rockhampton town center is Capricorn Caves, one of Queensland’s best-known and oldest tourist attractions. Take a tour through the beautiful cathedral cave, decorated with fairy lights. Explore 100,000 years of prehistory and find out what actually happened to some of Australia’s mysterious megafauna. Or, if you are looking for more adrenaline releasing adventure activity, grab a helmet and a harness and book abseiling, caving, or rock climbing tour. Why not push yourself on the high ropes course and flying fox? It’s an excellent way to get your delicate heart pumping and loads of fun for big children and courageous adults alike. Remember to tightly hold on.
Witness the charm of Mount Archer National Park’s eucalypt forests and visit the Moores Creek Valley conservation area’s isolated dry rainforest. Take a walk to the easily accessible Mount Archer Lookout and soak up fantastic panoramic views of Rockhampton and the neighboring ranges.
Art of Central Queensland
The remarkable collection of Australian art at the Rockhampton City Art Gallery holds works by Arthur Boyd, Sydney Nolan, and famous Russell Drysdale. Located in the center of town on the banks of the Fitzroy River, the museum is home to both international and regional works and holds a collection of unusual historical objects from the colonial period, along with contemporary and modernist works by some of Central Queensland’s best artists. The Rockhampton City Art Gallery is acknowledged as having one of Australia’s most elegant regional art collections and is a ‘must-see’ for the intelligent traveler.
Set on 10 hectares of land originally inhabited by the local Darambal people, Dreamtime Cultural Centre is a great place to learn local Indigenous culture. See traditional huts, rock art, ancient ceremonial sites, and even a large dugong (manatee cousin) sculpture. Take a tour and discover how the didgeridoo player makes that sound. Visit the classical Torres Strait Islander Village and see folkloric dances, or learn the art of Boomerang throwing and see if you can make this conventional tool return back to you.
Rich with pioneer history, the Rockhampton environs offer a fair dinkum Aussie outback adventure. Just 10 kilometers northwest of the town center on the banks of the Fitzroy River is the ancient Glenmore Homestead. This charming heritage site offers a glimpse into life long ago in Queensland.
From cars to vintage machinery, to farm animals and heritage homesteads, the Rockhampton Heritage Village is ideal for soaking up some Queensland pioneering history. Visit Archer Park Rail Museum in the center of town to see an ancient steam train in action, or head south-west along the Burnett Highway to explore one of Queensland’s most famous historical landmarks around the Mount Morgan Mine.
What to eat in Rockhampton?
You can surprisingly find great Italian food in Rockhampton. That are numerous restaurants facing the river serving authentic Italian, Turkish, and Thai food. Since this is a riverfront town, local fresh seafood is omnipresent.