Bring together adventure, nature, food, fishing, bike riding and so much more in a thriving city that proudly embraces its colonial Queensland history and heritage.
Loaded with historic charm and oozing country colonial character, Rockhampton – known as ‘Rocky’ to the locals – is a large, prosperous riverside city in Central Queensland’s Capricorn region.
Founded in 1858 on the lands of the Darumbal people, the city quickly became the region’s administrative and commercial centre. It has a proud beef heritage, and is still the official stud capital of Australia – with three million head of cattle calling the region home.
With 300 days of sunshine a year and a balmy sub-tropical climate, Rocky is a laidback yet thriving haven for adventurers who love fishing, mountain biking, and food and nature-based escapes.
An angler’s paradise
Rockhampton straddles the Fitzroy River (known as Tunuba to the Darumbal people) – the largest river system on the eastern seaboard of Australia. For those keen to throw in a line, the Fitzroy River is known as one of the best fishing spots in the region, with prime estuary and freshwater fishing options. Trophy Barramundi and King Threadfin are the biggest drawcards, with Barramundi season running from February 1 until November 1, and closing over the summer months for the fish to spawn. King Threadfin Salmon can also be found in abundance, and can be targeted all year round.
There are plenty of fishing spots along the Fitzroy River right in the heart of town, whether you have a boat, want to book a charter or just take your fishing rod out for a spin. If you’re looking for a guided fishing experience where someone with local knowledge can show you the ropes and hopefully help you get a big one on the line, a charter is your best bet.
Guided Fishing Downunder is a personalised guided fishing charter for lure and fly anglers specialising in Barramundi and king threadfin, offering blue water, flats and freshwater fishing. It’s ideal for both experienced anglers and novices wanting to learn the fundamentals of fishing.
Natural attractions galore
Rockhampton has a host of natural attractions on its doorstep. Nearby Mount Archer National Park is a dramatic backdrop to the city, with dense forests, hiking trails and majestic highlands to explore. Nurim Circuit Elevated Boardwalk offers a fantastic vantage point to take in the region, with stunning views over the city and surrounding countryside. You can drive to the top or hike the 14-kilometre Zamia Trail through native bushland.
Rockhampton is also a premier mountain biking destination, with epic bike park First Turkey also found on Mount Archer. Chase thrills here on thirty-three trails through diverse terrain designed for all skill levels. The Park is open most days of the year, and from June to August you can do peak rides. Make sure to check the weather, as some trails will close in heavy rain.
Heading north, you’ll find the amazing Capricorn Caves – one of the most spectacular attractions in Central Queensland. In this subterranean wonderland you can traverse immense underground cave systems, spot the resident insectivorous bat population living amongst its awe-inspiring formations or even visit a dig pit where fossils are being excavated. There is an accessible, wheelchair-friendly cave tour available and for the more adventurous travellers pursuing an adrenaline rush, you can get your Indiana Jones on and abseil down the limestone ridge.
Rocky’s cultural edge
Rockhampton boomed in the 1880s thanks to the gold rush, and so there are plenty of impressive historic buildings lining the streets. Take a stroll down Quay Street by the Fitzroy River to check out Customs House (1900), the Supreme Court House (1888) and the Post Office (1892), or take a self-guided heritage walk to find all 26 National Trust buildings in the city.
The Rockhampton Heritage Village will have you feeling as though you’ve stepped back in time, as with its colonial homesteads and cottages, timber cutters’ camp, woolsheds, blacksmiths and vintage machinery and vehicles, life and work in Rocky from 1850 to 1950 has been recreated in an experiential open-air museum.
The village plays hosts to school holiday programs, Christmas in July Markets, and Christmas markets where you can stock on all kinds of gifts.
Lovers of rail history will be swept away by the Archer Park Rail Museum, where you can ride the last of the region’s 20th century Purrey Steam Trams.
The Rockhampton Museum of Art (RMOA) has recently reopened to visitors following an extensive renovation of its gallery spaces. This new world-class cultural hub is almost six times the size of the old gallery, with new exhibition spaces and a cafe and restaurant. It is now Queensland’s largest regional art gallery.
The Rockhampton Art Gallery – established in 1967 – houses the finest collection of mid-century and modern art in regional Queensland, including works by acclaimed Australian artists Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd.
Indulging in the culinary offerings
As the Beef Capital of Australia, travellers to Rockhampton can’t deny themselves of the region’s best export. Stonegrill Restaurant is one of the most highly-rated restaurants in Rockhampton to sink your teeth into a steak. For those after ribs with their steak, look no further than Ribs and Rumps. If you haven’t been to this institution, rest assured that there are plenty of options for vegetarians or those after a great salad or vegetable dish.
A great place to chill out and lap up views of the Fitzroy River is the Boathouse, which is in the revitalised riverbank precinct. With an expansive timber deck right above the river, this open-air restaurant is where you can enjoy the balmy weather while sipping on a wine, cocktail or beer. The menu has all the classics – fish and chips, grilled Barra, rump steaks and lamb shanks – or if you’re feeling more adventurous, tuck into some crocodile and vegetable spring rolls, or indulge in a battered bugs roll. The seafood variety.
For a taste of the real Rockhampton, check out the city’s own Headricks Lane micro brewery serving locally crafted beers and offering carefully curated meals lovingly prepared with all local produce. Embracing history and the modern day, after passing through the grand façade you’ll find yourself in a breathtakingly modern interior with exposed brick walls, soaring ceilings and tonnes of natural materials creating a welcoming yet ultra-stylish space. They also do an awesome eye fillet and striploin.
Or there’s the Whisky Lounge at at CocoBrew (an entertainment, conference and function centre) that has more than 75 drams on offer, and hosts regular whiskey tasting nights.
Rocky with kids
If you’re travelling with little ones, make sure to head to the Rockhampton Zoo, which sits between the Botanic Gardens and the Murray Lagoon. There are more than 100 animals and 30 different species for them to marvel at, and entry is free.
The Rockhampton Botanic Gardens are perfect for a picnic, and the 130-year-old oasis is considered to be one of the best in the country. Pack a picnic rug and hamper, and sprawl on the lawns to watch the world go by. Swing by Kershaw Gardens to keep the kids entertained for hours, with a huge playground with five levels of obstacles, ropes, ladders and tunnels.
Head to the Dreamtime Aboriginal Cultural Centre to immerse yourself in the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, performances and traditions. Take a guided tour or explore hands-on with cultural activities like boomerang throwing, face painting and dance.
Where to stay in Rockhampton
The Best Western Cattle City Motor Inn, located on the south side of Rockhampton, is a five-minute drive from the city centre and within easy reach of shopping, dining and entertainment.
The motel offers 33 rooms with free-to-air television and free Wi-Fi internet access. The motel’s fully licensed Blue Heeler Restaurant and Bar features an a la carte contemporary Australian menu. And for those who enjoy a drop of wine, the motel’s selection is sure to please – from sparkling to shiraz, they have something for every occasion.
Adjacent to the restaurant and bar is a function room suitable for group bookings, meetings, conferences, training sessions, video presentations and private dinner parties. If it’s hot, cool down in the on-site pool.
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