Rockhampton is a semi-happening city in central Queensland that is noted for its proximity to the Capricorn Coast and Great Keppel Island. It’s a fair way from the state capital, Brisbane, and is mostly visited as part of a tour as opposed to being a visitor destination in its own right. Though located far from Brisbane and inland, ‘Rocky’ is a busy place with lots of traffic and many good hotels.The city was so named after strange rocks in the river and was established way back in the mid-1800s, making it one of Queensland's oldest cities. It didn’t receive ‘city’ status until the turn of the century, but grew fast when gold was discovered nearby, which was followed by a boom in cattle grazing. Rockhampton boasts 300 days of sunshine a year and has good tourism infrastructure, with boating one of the main activities past the beautiful Riverbank Parklands
There’s plenty to see within the town and out and about. The Fitzroy River snakes its way right through the city and is great for boating, and there are several lush gardens and parks. Offshore, meanwhile, is the stunning Great Keppel Island.
- Rockhampton ZooOne for the kids, and indeed for the ‘olds’, is the cute Rockhampton Zoo, located near the Botanic Gardens. It has all the best animals from outback Australia—kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, emus, crocodiles, you name it—along with chimps, monkeys, and birds, including a rare cassowary. Feeding time is 15:00, when visitors get to have their picture taken with a cuddly koala.
- Rockhampton Heritage VillageFor history, check out the Rockhampton Heritage Village to the north of the town. It has loads of historic buildings from the early days of Rockhampton—some dating back to 1850—including a church, a school, a hospital, and a wagon works, along with old stage coaches and cars.
- Koorona Crocodile FarmIf you want to feed some crocs, your best bet is to get on a tour of the Koorona Crocodile Farm at Coowonga (east of town). You can pick up a young crocodile here, and there’s a nice café serving, yes, crocodile meat (it’s tastier than you think), along with other goodies.
Eating and drinking and shopping nearby
Most restaurants and shops are concentrated along Denham Street and East Street in the town proper, as well as between Musgrave Street and Bruce Highway across the river. There are fish and chips shops, Indian curry houses, and Italian pizzerias, while the Rockhampton Shopping Fair and Strandbags malls have plenty of shops and eateries. Nightlife is subdued though there are pubs and some nightclubs. The Criterion Hotel, not far from the Leichhardt and Travelodge Rockhampton hotels, is a major hangout at night.
There’s an airport near the zoo with direct flights from Brisbane and Sydney with Qantaslink and Virgin Australia. The Tilt train comes in regularly from Brisbane, while Greyhound coaches run daily from Brisbane and Cairns. Sealed roads come in from all over and there are car hire companies in town and at the airport. The city itself is fairly large, though you can get about the interesting parts on foot or by bike easily. Several taxi companies serve the city and the surrounds, as do Rothery's buses.