Things to see and do in Rockhampton

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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 Bull selfie

Rather than shy away from its bovine population, Rocky has embraced its cattle capital reputation.

In homage to the mass of Bulls that reside outside its city gates, on Rockhampton’s main drag you’ll find six 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.

Get ready to Explore

Be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime, with a visit  to the Capricorn Caves, home to some of the most incredibly diverse and rare species of plants and animals, and marvel at geological forces forming breathtakingly beautiful scenes. Get ready to explore the ancient chambers of Rockhampton’s oldest playground, 390 million years in the making. Capricorn Caves intimate tours take guests into some of the Caves’ best kept hidden secrets.

Rocky Cow Statue | Rockhampton

Dine harbourside

Tucking in to local delicacies is all part of the adventure, as well as a way to support local industry.

With a suite of feasting options recently bringing a classy new dimension to Rockhampton’s revitalised riverfront, sophisticated dining overlooking the mighty Fitzroy is definitely a must do experience when visiting the often famed ‘beef capital’.

Already a favourite destination for locals and visitors, the riverside precinct, situated right in the heart of the city, offers fabulous views, and has become an exemplary example of modern, integrated urbanism set amongst a profound strip of heritage-listed buildings.

Delectable menu’s aside, the importance of ambience when dining out is vital to providing the perfect balance between taste and vibe and with eight diverse choices now prominently perched across approximately 600 metres of river frontage, your breakfast, lunch and dinner decisions are sorted.

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

Located on the threshold of the Fitzroy River (Tunuba), the Rockhampton Museum of Art (RMOA) is regional Queensland’s largest and most exciting art space. With six exhibition spaces there will be something for all visitors.

Forget about cows and join us for a foray to the local gallery. The RMOA is 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.

Open Monday to Saturday 7.30am – 3pm, (kitchen closes at 2pm), Sunday 9am – 1pm, Ph: 4921 3023

Make a day of it and relax on the precipice of the Fitzroy River (Tunuba) while enjoying Hummingbird’s @hummingbirdcafe all day menu.

RMOA’s shop is the place for an amazing range of unique pieces from local and Australian makers and artisans.

 

Rocky Art Gallery | Rockhampton

Customs House Rockhampton

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.

CBD Heritage Walk

Rockhampton CBD located | Directions to Customs House

If you only have a short time and would like to take in as much of Rockhampton’s history as possible, Quay Street is your destination. It is one of Queensland’s longest National Trust heritage-listed streets and provides a wealth of historic buildings to marvel at and explore.

Starting at the wharves that were the gateway into Rockhampton, and continuing through most of the early CBD, this tour is approximately 2km one way, or you can add on the river walk for a lovely return trip. Take the tour via our Self-Guided Audio Tours App, or by downloading the brochure.

Heritage Village

11km from Rockhampton CBD

Partake in a history lesson with a visit to the Rockhampton Heritage Village. One of the most popular stops for visitors to Central Queensland, step back in time and marvel at original and reproduction buildings as well as memorabilia and artefacts portraying life in the region from the 1850s to the 1950s. The Village is set on 11.4 hectares of bush land, and incorporates a charming township from yesteryear with original and recreated homesteads, buildings and businesses.

The village authentically captures a generous slice of an earlier generations’ way of life and is a wonderful opportunity for your whole family to learn and have fun. Experience life before electricity with a tour through many homesteads, view the many vintage cars, tractors, fire engines and horse drawn vehicles and wagons on display, watch how a 1950s print press works, and visit the Blacksmith Shop on market days and take in the traditional skills from a bygone era. You even have the opportunity to try a range of transport options including horses and ponies, a horse and cart, a vintage double decker bus, vintage fire engine and several other vintage vehicles.

The Heritage Village is open from 10am – 4pm daily (excluding public holidays).

Bi-monthly, the Heritage Village Markets take place at the Heritage Village (January, March, May, July, September and November each year).

Explore the Gardens

Photo by @visitcapricorn

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.

Rockhampton Botanic Gardens

What better way to enjoy the best tropical climate Queensland has to offer than by exploring and discovering the delights of the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, regarded as one of the best in regional Australia.

Whether you’re after the ideal venue for a family picnic, a garden lover’s sanctuary, a fun playground for the kids, or the perfect place for some tranquil ‘me time’, the Botanic Gardens is the tropical paradise for you. Open from 6am to sunset daily – entry is free.

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.

Rockhampton Botanic Gardens | things to do Rockhampton

Capricorn Caves

Venture underground

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.

Capricorn Caves is a multi-generational family owned attraction located 23km north of Rockhampton and just minutes off the Pacific Coast Way. Accessible walkways and ramps allow you to experience the breathtaking acoustics in the Cathedral Cave on the hourly tour.

The intimate Capricorn Explorer and Capricorn Adventurer tours allows further exploration with breath-taking views from the summit and a true bucket-list experience. As an Advanced Eco-Tourism attraction Capricorn Caves is a home to an abundance of native wildlife and endangered species which you can discover on tour. Experienced local guides deliver the captivating stories of this ancient Australian landscape on small-scale interpretive tours.

After your tour, enjoy a bite to eat from the licensed café or cool off with a swim in the pool. A visitor centre provides fascinating information about the local geology, bats and community history.

Island-hop

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.

Great Keppel Island is an island paradise where the ‘squeaky-clean’ white sand flows between your toes and the ocean sparkles before your eyes. As the largest island in the Keppel Group, Great Keppel is situated just north of the Tropic of Capricorn and on Australia’s heritage listed Southern Great Barrier Reef. Whether you’re visiting Great Keppel for a day, a few nights, or for a couple of weeks, you can’t fail to be impressed by the scenery or the relaxed atmosphere on the island.

Escape to Pumpkin Island, one of Australia’s most amazing, tiny hidden gems. This best-kept secret is nestled in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, a short ferry ride 14 kilometres from coastal Yeppoon.

Island life offers a blissful retreat from stresses of modern-day life, a chance to partake in pristine nature, relax and unwind.

There’s so much to discover on this incredible treasure. The wildlife will delight you; expect to see dolphins, turtles and whales in season. Fish the rich waters, snorkel or experience the coral reefs from a glass bottom kayak, harvest your own oysters off the rocks or simply wander the secluded beaches. Afterwards, perhaps spend the afternoon relaxing in a hammock, then enjoy sunset from your deck overlooking the crystalline beach.

Pumpkin Island | Great Barrier Reef islands

Go to the Zoo

Home to almost 100 animals spanning more than 30 species of native and exotic animals, Rockhampton Zoo is set on 10 acres within the stunning Rockhampton Botanic Gardens.

Come and meet Mzuri, the newest member of their chimpanzee family, who was born in December 2021, or stop by the Australian Wetlands zone to marvel over their giant saltwater crocodile ‘The Colonel’. Spot the colours of the rainbow in their aviaries, overload on cuteness at their mob of meerkats and watch the otters play like children in the water – Rockhampton Zoo has something for everyone!

Give yourself a couple of hours to meet the animals, then take a relaxing walk around Rockhampton’s Botanic Gardens and the Murray Lagoon – all free and all in the same location!

The Zoo is open 10 am – 4 pm every day (except for Christmas Day) and entry is free.

*Complement your visit and learn more about the Rockhampton Zoo in Explore Rockhampton’s self-guided audio tours app, available for download from the Apple App or Google Play stores.

Take in the views at Mount Archer

Photo by @coldesign

Uncover Rockhampton’s best angles from the lookout at Mount Archer.

Directions to Mount Archer National Park | National Park website

Mount Archer (Nurim) National Park is a must see when you visit Rockhampton. Wander through the trees on the Nurim Circuit elevated treetop boardwalk, sit back and relax with a picnic in the amphitheatre, walk or hike one of the many bushwalking trails throughout the national park or take a ride on First Turkey’s mountain bike trails.

At the top of the mountain, there is also a kids adventure playground where they can weave through the totem poles, jump on the trampoline or swing amongst the trees.

Treetop Boardwalk

Rockhampton’s treetop boardwalk, Nurim Circuit, is a must for your Rockhampton bucket list. Extending 25 metres off the side of Mount Archer, the 500 metre flat boardwalk offers spectacular views of the city and the mighty Fitzroy River. Take in the views and check out the interpretive signage of the local Darumbal culture. The boardwalk is particularly popular with locals and tourists alike wanting to catch the spectacular sunrises and sunsets so don’t forget your camera! If you’re a budding photographer or would like to pick up on some tips and tricks to shooting a sunset from Nurim Circuit, check out our blog ‘Master that Sunset Shot’.

Amphitheatre

If you’re not in a rush when visiting Mount Archer (Nurim) National Park, then pick up a delicious platter of cheese, cold meats, dips and crackers or takeaway from any of the local cafes. Take this to the top and sit back and relax with a picnic at the picnic tables, or in Mount Archer’s amphitheatre. Don’t forget to take your picnic rug! The best time to go is at sunset, so you can look out across the region while eating your favourite cheese and sipping on your favourite drink.

Keep an eye out on the local’s insider account, My Rockhampton, to see what’s on at Mount Archer.

Mount Archer | Capricorn

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