Richard McGrath from One Adventure writes about the top 11 things to do in Rockhampton Qld.
Rockhampton, or ‘Rocky’ as it’s known to fans, is a Queensland destination that’s sometimes overlooked – but the secret is getting out!
Nestled in the Fitzroy Basin, this riverside gem has plenty to offer the casual explorer or dedicated adventurer.
With plenty of camping, caravan sites and other accommodation options available, Rockhampton is a great destination for leisure travellers in 2021.
From heritage homes where time stands still, to pristine islands lapped by the Great Barrier Reef, this charming country city makes a great family holiday spot, so we’ve collected some must-do experiences.
Driving Distances to Rockhampton
- Gladstone to Rockhampton: 108km or 1 hour 40 minutes
- Emerald to Rockhampton: 270km or 2 hours 55 minutes
- Mackay to Rockhampton: 336km or 3 hours 50 minutes
- Longreach to Rockhampton: 687km or 7 hours 10 minutes
- Brisbane to Rockhampton: 617km or 7 hours 10 minutes
Things To Do In Rockhampton
Fewer than 30 mins drive from the centre of town lies your opportunity to explore the awe-inspiring Capricorn Caves.
Here, you can stroll through the magical passageways of this vast limestone complex, formed from an ancient coral reef over 400 million years ago and now home to a thriving bat population.
Be inspired by the breathtaking natural acoustics of the Cathedral Chamber or amplify the adrenaline with a more challenging tour: crawling and abseiling to discover the most remote parts of this geographical wonder.
Dreamtime Cultural Centre
Just north of the city on 12 hectares of bush, the Dreamtime Cultural Centre allows you to travel through time on tours that feature a replica burial site, rock art, gunyahs and the ceremonial rings of the first occupants.
Not only can you immerse yourself in the history of the custodians of the Rockhampton area, the Darumbal people, you can even try your hand at boomerang throwing, watch a didgeridoo demonstration, or get involved in traditional face painting.
Rockhampton Heritage Village
History buffs will love the chance to peer into the lives of Queensland’s pioneers and stroll through the years at this popular attraction, which offers over 11 hectares of heritage.
Boasting original and reproduction buildings from the 1850s to the 1950s, the past is brought to life in the village, which is also home to a collection of vintage cars.
Explore the school house, fire station, and quaint cottages, marvel at the impressive collection of timepieces in the Hall of Clocks or enjoy the lively Sunday markets that are held here six times a year.
One of the oldest public gardens in Queensland, Rockhampton’s heritage-listed haven of tranquility on the banks of the Murray Lagoon is a beautiful spot to escape the heat of the city.
Hailed a hidden gem by those fortunate enough to visit, this free oasis is home to a myriad of native and non-native animals set in a tropical and subtropical rainforest.
Relax at the cosy café, unwind in the landscaped gardens, or enjoy a picnic in the tropical sun on one of the many lush lawns.
Visitors to the Botanic Gardens can also take a detour and discover more than 60 species of native and exotic animals at Rockhampton Zoo.
This free attraction houses koalas, lion-tailed macaques, dingoes, chimps, and all the vibrant colours of the walk-through aviary.
If you’re brave, you can even meet ‘The Colonel’, a giant saltwater crocodile that calls the Australian Wetlands Zone home.
With gold discovered on Mount Morgan, the 1880s saw the birth of Rockhampton, and many of its earliest buildings can still be seen today adorning Quay Street—Queensland’s longest National Trust heritage-listed street.
Starting at the wharves, where bustling merchant and maritime activity helped secure Rockhampton fortunes, this short self-guided tour takes you through the Victorian-era heart of the city, boasting elegant sandstone and iron architecture.
Return along the Fitzroy River for another perspective of this beautiful area.
Known as ‘Rockhampton’s big backyard’, this verdant park is dotted with Australian native plants and provides plenty of walking tracks, play areas for kids and a spectacular waterfall, however, it’s the Central Precinct that makes Kershaw Gardens a must-visit for families.
Originally designed for New York’s Central Park, Wyatt’s Wonder Web is a 9m-high adventure play area that will keep kids entertained for hours!
You can also get your feet wet in the Fitzroy River water play area, take a trip on the famous pedal monorail, and recharge with a barbecue in the park.
Cruise the Fitzroy
What better way to see the sights and see another side of Rockhampton than with a leisurely cruise on one of the many riverboats that glide up and down the Fitzroy?
From birds and dolphins to local crocs, there’s always plenty of wildlife to spot, and, as the sun sets over the water, you can unwind with food and drinks as you float past Rockhampton’s architectural highlights and watch the heritage city light up, and the nightlife awaken.
If you’re looking to take in the whole of Rockhampton, don’t miss a trip out to Mount Archer.
The highest peak of The Berserker Range is only 20 minutes out of the city — unless you opt for the adventurous 11km hike to the summit!
At the top, enjoy the spectacular panoramic views from the Nurim Circuit Elevated Boardwalk, before descending into the 4000-plus hectare National Park, a protected bushland encompassing extensive walking trails flanked by rainforest, and home to an abundance of wildlife.
As the sun dips below the horizon, head to the Riverbank Precinct to enjoy the best of what Rockhampton has to offer after dark.
A newly-revitalized part of the city, mixing heritage buildings with modern architecture, this entertainment hub serves up spectacular waterfront views alongside some of the best restaurants, pubs, clubs and cocktail bars in regional Queensland, guaranteed to satisfy every gastronomic explorer.
Keppel Bay Islands National Park
One of the benefits of Rockhampton’s location is its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef – it’s less than an hour’s drive to Yeppoon, where you can catch a ferry to Great Keppel Island – a tropical sanctuary ringed by pristine waters, perfect for snorkelling and swimming.
Relax on the white sand beaches of this blissful paradise or hike the interior to explore rich natural treasures. You can even camp on seven of the Keppel islands!
With direct flights from Brisbane, plus extensive road and rail connections, we’re sure you’re raring to race to Rocky – so stop reading and get rolling!
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