The 10 best things to do in Rockhampton
Welcome to cattle country. We’re not exaggerating; Rockhampton is officially the stud capital of Australia, with three million head of cattle calling the region home.
But Rocky (as it’s affectionately known) isn’t just for farmers as our guide goes to show. Pop on that Akubra, and follow our lead as we navigate you through the charming country town.
Snap a cow selfie
Rather than shy away from its bovine population, Rocky has embraced its cattle capital reputation.
In homage to the mass of cows that reside outside its city gates, on Rockhampton’s main drag you’ll find six cow statues in ode to the six different breeds found throughout the region. Take your camera and snap a selfie here; this is a photo opportunity not to be missed.
Go to the rodeo
Mark Wednesday and Friday nights in your diary; this is when the rodeo arrives at the Great Western Hotel. The Rockhampton institution is home to a twice weekly rodeo display where the best cowboys and cowgirls from the district compete in the indoor ring.
Courtesy of the centre’s ringside restaurant, all the while you can tuck into the carnivore-friendly menu, including the Great Western’s famed 1kg steak.
Tucking in to local delicacies is all part of the adventure, as well as a way to support local industry.
It’s no surprise that Rockhampton’s specialty is steak; banana beef in particular, from the Shire of Banana. The beef was named in ode to a particularly yellow bull called Banana and can be sampled at Keppel Bay Marina in nearby Yeppoon. Waterline Restaurant here serves a special award-winning banana beef tataki.
Peruse the gallery
Forget about cows and join us for a foray to the local gallery. The Rockhampton Art Gallery is nothing to be scoffed at; the cultural hub houses a collection of works from some of the country’s most adored creatives.
Adorning the walls here are the likes of Sidney Nolan, Margaret Olley, Arthur Boyd, and Albert Tucker.
Take a historic tour
History buffs take note; Rockhampton was born back in the 1880s thanks to gold being discovered on Mount Morgan. The resulting city rose quickly, and today a collection of 26 buildings fit the National Trust’s classification.
Settled on Quay Street bordering the Fitzroy River sit the bulk, including Customs House (1900), the Supreme Court house (1888), and the Post Office (1892). The historic railway system will also tempt lovers of the past; Archer Rail Park Museum and Mount Morgan Historical Railway Museum are stand-outs.
Explore the Gardens
Green thumb will want to forgo the historic and make their way immediately to the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. The 130-year-old oasis is no laughing matter; this green-laden expanse is considered to be one of the best provincial gardens in the country.
Just don’t forget to pack a picnic rug and hamper; there are plenty of lawns here on which to sprawl and enjoy the (tropical) sunshine.
Take in the views at Mount Archer
Uncover Rockhampton’s best angles from the lookout at Mount Archer.
With views out over the city and surrounding countryside, this elevated haunt offers perhaps the best way to see the district in her entirety. There are two options to get there depending on your energy levels; take the car or schlep up the 11km to the summit from German Street in town.
Go to the zoo
If you have your kids in tow make your way to Rockhampton Zoo, wit sits wedged between the Botanic Gardens and the Murray Lagoon. More than 60 different animal species reside here. Even better? The zoo is free.
You can visit between 8.00am to 4.30pm year-round, with the zoo only closed on Christmas Day.
Spend a day navigating the neighbouring Great Barrier Reef.
Well within reach of Rockhampton’s borders are Great Keppel Island and Pumpkin Island. Both nestled just a short boat ride from Yeppoon, the waterborne duo boast pristine waters for snorkelling and swimming, with a series of different accommodation options for those who want to stay the night.
Don’t miss out on a chance to see Central Queensland’s leading natural attraction, the Capricorn Caves. Traversing these underground systems just north of Rockhampton you’ll see a blossoming bat population living among its awe-inspiring formations.
The award-winning caves are not only eco-tourism accredited but ample in their offerings. Choose to the adventurous route and abseil, or follow a more relaxed wheelchair-friendly cave tour. Throughout the year the Capricorn Caves also host weddings and Underground Opera events.