Rockhampton is such a surprising city. Sitting about 40 minutes inland from the coast, along three of the major highways that run through Queensland, it needs to be considered as so much more than a quick stop over. Rockhampton is teeming with activities and experiences that will keep you busy for days and in our opinion might just been one of the most underrated cities in Queensland.
As one of the largest regional cities in Queensland, Rockhampton has made it’s name as the beef capital of Australia. You will find bull statues scattered throughout the city, pubs and restaurants offering delicious steak menus, and if you take a drive out of the city you might even have to stop for cattle wandering over the road.
We had such an incredible time exploring Rockhampton. Our days were so full and busy from morning until the sunset, with plenty of free experiences that are great for families and kids, delicious food, perfect weather, we really couldn’t believe how much more of Rocky there was to uncover than we expected.
If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Rockhampton, here is everything you need to know.
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Where is Rockhampton?
Found on the Tropic of Capricorn, Rockhampton is approximately 600 kilometres north of Brisbane, sitting alongside the Fitzroy River. It’s located inland of the coast, about 40 minutes from Yeppoon.
Rockhampton follows the Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10).
Getting to Rockhampton
You can fly directly into Rockhampton Airport (ROK) from Brisbane in less than an hour with both Qantas and Virgin, with easy connections to all major capital cities. The airport is located just five minutes from the heart of the city, so it’s a super quick drive or taxi ride and then you’re ready to start exploring.
If you’re coming by road, Rockhampton is the central hub of the Capricorn Region. With the Leichardt Highways, Australia’s Country Way and the Pacific Way (Bruce Highway) all running through Rockhampton, it’s a great place to stop and break up a long drive journey for a few nights, especially if you’re travelling with a caravan.
The best way to explore the city is by picking up a rental car at the airport, giving you the freedom and flexibility to explore everything Rockhampton has to offer at your own pace.
To explore more of the city at a slower pace, pick up an e-scooter wherever you see one. These bright orange Neuron Scooters are a great way to see more of the city than you would on foot, and the best part is you can just park and leave them whenever you reach your destination.
Where to stay
Empire Apartment Hotel
To stay right in the heart of the city, within walking distance of all the action, you can’t go past the Empire Apartment Hotel. Rockhampton’s newest and largest place to stay, the award winning Empire Hotel offers stunning views over the Fitzroy River and is within a short walk of the Riverside Precinct and the shopping mall on East Street in the CBD.
Their rooms are stunning – large and clean, with plenty of space to spread out and get comfortable. Our apartment had a separate bedroom and lounge area, which was great for putting Macey down to sleep without being disturbed. Our room had a wonderful view of the Fitzroy River, which was especially beautiful at sunrise. They also have a great rooftop pool to cool off in the afternoons when the sun is really hitting and the humidity is high, with views overlooking the city.
Book your stay at empirerockhampton.com.au
Alkoomi Adventure Farm
For something a little more unique, why not an adventure farm stay? Alkoomi is a wonderful family run cattle farm about half an hour out of Rockhampton. They have plenty of un-powered camping sites, so you can bring your van, as well as a few basic rooms to stay in and experience life on the farm. We really loved their super cute miniature goats that were running around, they are always excited for visitors.
Alkoomi offers everything you could need during your stay, including access to a camp kitchen with a BBQ, fridge/freezer, microwave and more, hot showers, swimming, free animal feeding, and free trailer rides for the kids. They can also organise a whole range of activities for you during your stay, from horse riding to scenic helicopter flights at sunset.
To find out more and book your visit head to alkoomiadventurefarmstay.com.au
Can’t miss things to do
There is an endless amount of things to do during your visit in Rockhampton, honestly our days were packed from sunrise to sunset. Some of our favourites include:
+ Wander along the beautiful Riverside Precinct, right in the heart of the city. You will find the best views of the Fitzroy River (Tunuba), while also checking out some of the city’s stunning heritage-listed buildings.
+ Visit the Rockhampton Zoo, where you can see their baby chimpanzees cheekily playing together, wander through their kangaroo enclosure, or get up close and personal with the animals at an exciting meerkat encounter.
+ Take a sunset river cruise to check out the iconic buildings from the water and watch the sun sink over the city while sipping a glass of champagne.
+ Plan your visit at the right time to check out the Professional Bull Riding (PBR), which is held at the Great Western Hotel about five times a year, where you can watch the real life cowboys wrangling their bulls in an attempt to stay on the longest.
+ Check out the sunset views from Mount Archer National Park. An incredible spot for a sunset picnic, with views sprawling across the city and out to the Fitzroy River. The Nurim Circuit Boardwalk offers spectacular views over both the city and the mountains. The colours over the city as the sun sinks is just so beautiful, you could watch the sky change colour here for hours.
+ Take a tour of the Capricorn Caves, a cave system that is more than 390 million years old. The Cathedral Cave Tour will show you the most impressive caves, including the underground cathedral. Check out their events calendar too, they sometimes have movie nights in the caves!
+ Get into the beef spirit on the iconic Rockhampton Bull Statue Tour, a self-guided driving tour of the unique bull statues scattered across the city. There are eight to find around the city with the first being right at the airport when you arrive.
+ If you can pull yourself out of bed early enough, Mount Etna is a beautiful place to watch the sunrise. Just magical.
Best time to visit
There’s never a bad time to visit Rockhampton, with warm sunny days most of the year and very little wet season. May to October can often provide some of the best weather conditions. During the summer months, from November to March, is often when you will get the most rain, it’s a bit hotter and the humidity can be quite high.
To help plan your visit
To help plan and make the most out of your time in Rockhampton make sure you download the free Explore Rockhampton app for your phone. As well as plenty of information about everything in the city, you can also find self-guided walking and driving tours, events guides, activity and tour ideas, insider tips on the best places to eat and drink around the city, and plenty on history and culture from the Rockhampton Region.
You can also head to explorerockhampton.com.au for heaps of inspiration for your trip, guides for families, mates and nomads, planning tips and more.
We had such a great few days exploring Rockhampton, the city really surprised us in the best way possible. Make sure you try a steak during your stay, it’s what they’re known for after all!
We visited Rockhampton in partnership with Explore Rockhampton. All opinions are, as always, our own.