In the words of JR Tolkien "Not all those who wander are lost". My passion and loves are my family, travel and writing. I'm fortunate to be able to combine all three for an extraordinary life adventure....
Published September 19th 2017
With countless of scenic coastal towns, an abundance of natural reef islands and glitzy beachside cities, it can be easy to miss some of Queensland's inland treasures. However, a venture into the state's interior will reveal a heartland of resource-rich landscapes, natural stunning attractions, a perfect combination of the old with the new, welcome hospitality and visitor-friendly locations.
Rockhampton is one of those places that should be on the itinerary. Once Australia's northernmost city and with a continued thriving beef and resource industry, it is an easy and interesting place to visit with a family. Where else would you find; cosmopolitan river dining, beautiful botanical garden with a great FREE zoo for the kids, live rodeo night and iconic bull statutes scattered around the city? It is Rockhampton's capacity to keep its finger on the pulse of modern culture while honouring its country roots that make this a must stop in Central Queensland. With a tourism friendly agenda, there is a buzz in the air of this town as it continues to reshape and define itself as a key visitor destination in Central QLD.
At the heart of the Fitzroy Basin, Australia's second largest river system and with a stunning backdrop of the Berserker ranges, Rockhampton is a great starting point for your family adventure.
Where else can you take your children to the local aquatic leisure centre and pay a mere $2 entry? It felt as if we had stepped back in time, to that period of childhood where fun activities were paid in coins and were accessible to everyone. The Aquatic/ BBQ/ playground area was nicely located on the banks of the Fitzroy river. A lovely spot to hang out at for an afternoon. The Aquatic centre has a 25m and 50m outdoor pool and a kids water play area with plenty of sun lounges to lay about in. For more information see: Lane 4 Aquatics - 2nd World War Memorial Aquatic Centre,
Rockhampton city has everything you need; strip shopping, shopping centres, cinemas, good dining and music venues.
We couldn't help but visit the Library when we had run out of good reading books. Even though we were only in Rockhampton for a week we were able to join up as a visitor member. We found some fun family DVDs to watch and exciting new reads. Library: 232 Bolsover Street, Rockhampton
Local Aquatic centre
2. Botanical gardens/ Zoo The beautiful botanical gardens and zoo are well located not far from the city centre and are completely free.
The Rockhampton Zoo is home to more than 250 native Australian and exotic animals, birds and reptiles, and offers visitors a unique insight into their habitats. The zoo is open every day of the year from 8am till 4.30pm. Feeding times usually happen in the late afternoon and it is a great opportunity to see the animals up close. The zoo is well shaded and a lovely cool spot to spend an afternoon with the kids. To download a map or for further information, see website here.
3. Capricorn caves
The Capricorn Caves, located in the township of The Caves, are a mere 40 kms from Rockhampton. This spectacular above ground limestone cave system provides a rare glimpse into the remnants of an ancient underwater world; a coral reef, which once flourished in the region over 380 million years ago.
There are various options on offer in which one can experience the Capricorn Caves during a visit of this rare site. Informative guided tours and caving adventure activities are available throughout the day which takes visitors exploring throughout the different labyrinths of the large cave system. You can read my review of the Capricorn Caves here.
4. Mt Hay Gemstone Tourist Park
Mt Hay Gemstone Tourist Park is located on the 'Dig the Tropic' tourist route. Open all year round and perfectly located, 38 kms from Rockhampton on the Capricorn Highway. Mt Hay Gemstone park is a privately operated mine open to the public, which is the home of the brilliant thunderegg. The park is open all year round for fossicking and has camping ground facilities on site. Easily a half to full day outing and great fun for the whole family. See my review here of Mt Hay Gemstone Tourist Park here.
5. Great Keppel Island
If you are craving some sand and reef action, the Great Keppel Island ferry terminal is only 40 kms from Rockhampton, based at the scenic town of Rosslyn Bay. There are daily transfers available to and from the island or various accommodation options if you wish to stay overnight. With 17 pristine sandy beaches to snorkel, swim, dive or fish and rugged hikes and trails to explore, this part of the Great Southern Barrier Reef is the ultimate island adventure. For my review of Great Keppel Island, click here.
Arcade Markets: 8am -12:30pm, every Sunday morning: Kern Arcade Carpark
Heritage Village Markets: 8am -2pm. 26 November- final session for 2017.
Handmade Expo Markets: 8am -1pm, 4th Sunday of the month (except 30 September and 16 December 2017). Rockhampton Showgrounds.
Coming soon ...
The Rockhampton Regional Council has further plans in place to revitalise the Fitzroy Riverbank Precinct with a mixture of business and recreational spaces including a pier structure with Restaurant facilities, wet play area and state-of-the-art children's playground, revitalised gardens and shaded amphitheatre, providing more opportunities for local cultural and music events. Due to be completed by end of 2017/2018, will ensure that Rockhampton continues to be a visitor hot-spot providing something for everyone!