One of Queensland’s unexpected holiday destinations is Rockhampton. Offering many different experiences, you can find the perfect balance between adventure-filled activities and glorious sunsets where you can sit back, relax and take time out for yourself. It truly offers the opportunity to reconnect with nature, and is ideally located in the centre of the Pacific Coast Way (Bruce Highway) making it the perfect stopover as you make your way up or down the Queensland coastline.
Mount Archer (Nurim) National Park has many bushwalks, hikes, and mountain bike trails. It also has an elevated treetop boardwalk offering sweeping panoramic views across Rockhampton and the surrounding countryside. Named a Tripadvisor 2020 Travellers’ Choice Winner, the Nurim Circuit Elevated Boardwalk is a must-see.
From the top of Mount Archer, the Fitzroy River (Tunuba) is clearly visible winding through the city. Right in the heart of town keen anglers can catch metre-long barramundi, king threadfin salmon and many other fish species from the river, with land-based fishing options, charters readily available to book, and dry boat hire options.
A local fishing charter also offers sunset river cruises along the Fitzroy, so you can take in the sights of the river and Rockhampton’s city with a beverage and cheese platter in hand.
Rockhampton is a town full of heritage and history. From late 1800s to early 1900s, the discovery and development of the Mount Morgan mine provided the region with funding for many impressive buildings along Quay Street, now Australia’s longest National Trust heritage-listed street. Commencing operation in 1882, the Mount Morgan mine became one of the richest gold mines in Australia, and for a period of time the world. During its 99 years of mining the area declared a total of 252 tons of gold, 27 tons of silver and 284 tons of copper.
When visiting Rockhampton, make sure you take a day trip to Mount Morgan and delve into the area’s early successes and fascinating past at one of the many museums.
Outside the city lies a range of farm stays where you can enjoy a leisurely horseback ride, feed farm animals, toast marshmallows by the campfire, ride a quadbike, and catch that picture perfect sunset. Each farm stay is situated on working, family-run cattle properties providing an authentic farm experience. A number of the properties have onsite camping and caravanning facilities so you can curb your caravan and stay for the night.
Gemstones and caves
Mount Hay Gemstone Park is a 30 minute drive west of Rockhampton, and is the remains of an extinct ancient volcano last active 120 million years ago. When active, the volcano had millions of gas bubbles present in the molten rhyolite lava, forming thunder eggs. Take a drive, head to Mount Hay and fossick for your very own thunder eggs while learning about the history of the ancient volcano.
Just a 30 minute drive away from Rockhampton, explore underground caves that are 390 million years old. Whether you’re a thrill seeker or just want to marvel at the beauty of underground geological formations, Capricorn Caves offers a range of tours for all ages and fitness abilities. They also have powered camp and caravan sites available.
Picturesque parks and a Zoo
Take some time out to explore Rockhampton’s picturesque parks. Celebrating 150 years in 2020, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens is one of the oldest and most established public gardens in Queensland. The site has been heritage listed since 1999 and offers a number of iconic plantings, including the 150 year old canopy of Banyan figs and avenue of Bunya pines.
Nestled within the Botanic Gardens is Rockhampton Zoo, home to over 60 native and exotic animals and is one of only four zoos across Australia with chimpanzees. The family of seven includes two baby chimps, with the older sibling being the first chimp to be born in Queensland since the 1970s. The Zoo has also recently welcomed a mob of meerkats and offers encounters where you can get up close and personal with the cheeky mob of four.
Wine and dine
Although Rockhampton is known as the Beef Capital, there’s more to Rockhampton than steakhouses. Whether you’re looking for an intimate fine dining experience, riverfront restaurants, suburban cafes or typical pub meal, Rockhampton has a mix of dining options to choose from, and also home to a micro-brewery.