Rockhampton, on the Tropic of Capricorn
Three little places come to mind when I think of Rocky if you want to be near the water.
Yeppoon which is the best known...Emu Park....quite a delight and Zilzie. We found our lost cat at Zilzie so it always has a special place in my heart. Taking a cat on holidays is not the best idea...and she went all the way to Zilzie and 6 weeks later we found her....and she did not want to talk to us. Tabby point Siamese are like that!
Many visitors prefer to stay at these resorts rather than Rockhampton which can be quite hot and humid.
The other benefit is you are much closer to Great Keppel Island and my favourite from long ago ...North Keppel
Mt Archer National Park provides magnificent views of the city, and there is a great array of native Australian flora and fauna, most natable the glossy black cockatoo.
Frazer Park is at the summit of Mt Archer, which is about 604 meters above sea level, and there are good picnic and viewing areas. You do need private transport to get to the summit
There is a mountain-top cafe but it wasn't open when I was there late afternoon, early evening.
There are also several bush-walks anf lookouts aound the summit.
There are good views of the city and also the other side of the range as you drive up the mountain but do be careful as some of them are on the opposite side of the road to the view.
Rockhampton Heritage Village is an active township museum where you can experience Rockhampton's rich and colourful history. The village features the history of the Rockhampton area from 1850 - 1950.
It's a large complex and is quite interactive so is great for kids. There are a couple of Shetland ponies and Draught Horses raoming around and they will come up looking for pats and food. There is a farmhouse area with cows, ducks, geese, hens - all the farmyard trimmings.
The Dolls House is special if you have any interst in dolls.
As you wander around (or are driven) you'll see vintage vehicles, a hall of clocks, a timber cutters camp with some great examples of early tools, a blacksmith shop, homesteads and cottages, lots of vintage machinery and some great engines.
I loved this village - better than any of the others that I have written about. Perhaps it helped that I was given an escorted tour in one of the village's cars.
There are about 5 market days each year and these are apparently fantastic markets - check if there will be one on when you are there.
Open 9am – 4pm daily
Admission is about $10 and pensioner discount applies.
The Dreamtime Cultural Centre is set on 12 hectares of land and there is plenty to see here.
The grounds are landscaped with native plants, trees and a large waterfall. The gardens are part of the interpretive walk available to visitors.
The original occupants of the land were the Darambal Aboriginal Tribe who have now almost disappeared and the choice of this land for the Centre is appropriate as it still contains the traditional "ceremonial rings" of the Darambal Tribe.
There are several distinct areas to visit: The Torres Strait Islander’s Complex includes huts, the giant dugong and plants particular to the Torres Strait, whilst the Aboriginal Traditional area has a replica burial site, rock art, gunyahs and traditional ceremonial sites of the Darambal people.
If you do not know much about aboriginal culture this is an ideal place to learn. Take a self-guided or guided tour to really appreciate the Centre.
There is an Artefacts shop with authentic Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander artefacts and souvenirs and a kiosk in the main building.
Entrance fees apply, about $13.00 adults. Family concessions available.
Tours are available daily.
Rockhampton Zoo, established in 1869, is situated in the Botanic Gardens next to the Murray Lagoon but it can be visited by itself. The Zoo is home to over fifty species of native and exotic animals.
There are Red & Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos and Agile Wallabies roaming freely in grassy paddocks. Other native mammals include Common Wombats and Dingoes.
The aviaries have many colorful birds including King Parrots, Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Musk Lorikeets, Rainbow Lorikeets, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. The main dome aviary is a free flight walkthrough enclosure with raised pathway.
The Zoo has Australia’s most deadly along with several species of non venomous snakes, Lace Monitors and the Perentie, Australia’s largest lizard.
There is an elevated walkway through the Koala exhibit, so you get closer to these adorable animals. Koalas don’t do much during the day, so don’t expect to see much action, but if you are there at feeding time at 3:30pm you will see them come down from their resting places in the trees to feed on some fresh eucalyptus leaves.
Rockhampton Zoo does not have a large exotic animal collection, although it does feature a number of monkeys and apes. The two chimpanzee brothers are a popular attraction and amuse visitors with their intelligent and playful nature. These two chimps were brought to Rockhampton back in 1986 when the zoo they were born in closed.
There are plans to upgrade the enclosures themed on ecosystems rather than individual animal species and this will enhance the zoo - it is not the best arrangement of displays I have seen.
Guided tours depart from the Botanic Gardens Kiosk at 10am and 2pm from Monday to Friday, with the afternoon finishing in time for the 3pm feeding sessions.
The Zoo is open every day 8am and 5pm and admission is free.
Murray Lagoon is actually a part of the Botanic Gardens but you do not have to go into the gardens to enjoy this lagoon and the abundance of bird life here.
In the early days it was the local swimming hole for local residents until the baths were opened in 1883. Along with surrounding lagoons, Murray Lagoon supplemented Rockhampton's first water supply.
The lagoon is home to a large variety of fish and birds, as well as turtles and eels, and was declared a Fauna Sanctuary in 1902. There is a picnic area on the edge of the lagoon
Rockhampton Botanic Gardens are regarded as one of the best provincial gardens in Australia.
They have recently been heritage-listed, and are 130 years old and some specimens are 100 years old. The gardens cover about 96 acres so they are not small.
There is so much to see and do within the garden and zoo complex (I have the zoo as a seperate tip). There are about
Get the Botanic Gardens Pocket Visitors Guide, fold it up and use it to go on a tour of the gardens, it is easy to spend several hours here.
Some of the specialty areas include:
Japanese Gardens: Designed by a Japanese landscape architect, and they are a 'must see' when visiting the Gardens.
Hugo Lassen Fernery: if you like ferns there are some great specimens in the fernery.
Palms and Cycads: A great collection of mature palms, and efforts have recently been made to further expand this already noteworthy collection. They say there are about 200 species and just for their 'weirdness' I loved this area.
There is a memorial Cenotaph in the gardens and is particulalry interesting as some seeds from the Lone Pine at Gallipoli were obtained from the Turkish Government in Australia's Bicentennial Year, and pines from some of these seeds now form part of an avenue to and around the Cenotaph.
The Gardens Tearoom is located under a Giant Banyan Fig and is a lovely area, nearby are picnic tables and free barbeque facilities set up under another of these figs - an ideal spot for a picnic. The Gardens Tearoom opens daily from 8am - 5pm.
FREE Entry. OPEN Every Day 6 am - 6 pm
Rockhampton has an abundance of Parks and Gardens and they are well worth seeing. Get a brochure from the tourist info office and see which gardens you may like to visit.
There are waterways, great plants and trees, good picnic and BBQ areas and some have children's playgrounds. Bird life was prolific during my several visits in September - November.
Probably the largest gardens (asided from the Botanical Gardens) are off Knight Street North Rockhampton. Kershaw has a good collection of Australian Native plants. There are walkways to special gardens and there is also wheelchair access.
When I was here there lots of people exercising and walking their dogs in the early morning and evening. There’s also a good children’s area and BBQ and Picnic areas.
Pick up a copy of the Community Arts News from the tourist info centre or the Art Gallery or Walter Reid Cultural Centre.
This is a great publication which will tell you what is on , and what is coming to Rockhampton. It lists film, drama, arts, festivals, opera – almost any entertainment you can think of. You are sure to find something interesting.
I loved this booklet as I found many things weren’t advertised in local papers and I would have missed out on a couple of great shows if I had not had the booklet.
I went to the Art Gallery and was invited to the opening of a show - something I wouldn't have known about except for this booklet. There was one international artist playing in town the following week and a couple of great Australian entertainers in town doing shows which I had not heard about.
The Pilbeam Theatre is just lovely and well worth a visit if there is a show on. Prices are also less than in major cities for the same show.
The Rainbow Fountain in Central Park is apparently one of only two rainbow fountains in the world (so the brochure says).
It is actually quite a small fountain but it is pretty. During the day the water is not coloured but at night the fountain is coloured by light in colours of the rainbow. There is a water jet reaching 20 M in height. About a 20 minute walk from the city centre.
Central Park gardens are another nice picnic area. There are also many hotels in this area.
The Riverside walk is quite pretty and the boardwalk makes it a lovely place on a sunny afternoon - especially as you can feel lovely river breezes out of the hot sun.
There are picnic areas, BBQ's and seats to rest your weary feet after doing the Heritage walk.
Apparently there are often concerts and markets along the broadwalk too so chech at the tourist info if anything special is happening.
The Gracemere Saleyards, about 9 kilometers from Rockhampton, handle the largest throughput of export beef cattle in Queensland. There are sales on all of the time so for a great country experience go to a cattle auction.
I went to see what it is about and ended up spending several hours at Brahman sales. Didn't know anything about cattle but loved listening to the auctioneers - didn't understand a word between the opening figure and 'sold' but that was some of the fun - just listening to the auctioneer, watching the buyers and trying to work out what was being said.
There is a cafe with hot and cold snacks and meals and plenty of seating. You can wander around the sale yards along overhead walkways and get a close up view of the cattle.
Ring the saleyards to see if there are sales on during your visit.
There are two info centres you can visit. Both have a huge amount of info about the town and surrounding areas. I was really impressed with their maps and local information brochures.
The Rockhampton Visitor Information Centre is located at Customs House, 208 Quay Street in Rockhampton. This is where you begin a herirage walk or cross the road and stroll along the riverside boardwalk.
The Capricorn Region Tourist Information Centre is located at the Tropic of Capricorn Spire on Gladstone Road in Rockhampton. This is not far deom the southern entrance into town. It is easily found thanks to the spire which marks the Tropic of Capricorn.
Rockhampton was founded in 1853, and there are many beautiful buildings in the town. This historical architecture has captured the hearts of visitors for decades.
Quay Street which runs along the riverfront has a lovely historic streetscape that is is apparently quite unique in Australia and definately worth wandering down. This is an ideal place to start a walk.
Buildings worth looking at include the Customs House, the old Post Office, a couple of old bank buildings and several private homes.
At both ends of town visitors are greeted by large sculptures of the region's prized bull breeds. If you are into cattle these are nice statues to check out.
And there are six main bull sculptures around the town:
The Brahman bull is on the Northern Highway and represents the most suitable breed to the district.
The Droughtmaster bull is near the entrance to the airport.
The Braford bull statue is on the southern highway.
The Romagnola bull, a new breed to the area, is in O'Shannessy Park off the southern highway into town.
The Santa Gertrudic statue is in Frank Forde Park.
Another Brahman bull is on the roundabut at the southern entrance to the town.
As you drive around you will see many more bulls on buildings, at pubs and in the street, just reinforcing to you that Rocky is indeed a beef town.