After our stay in Emerald we decided that we would head to the coast and spend a couple of days exploring Rockhampton. We had previously only passed through there so thought it would be a good opportunity to have a look around.
It is a great place to stop if you are heading north from Brisbane given that is about half way between there and Townsville.
Rockhampton is a large city of over 60,000 people. Established in 1860, it sits on the banks of the Fitzroy River. Many colonial style buildings still remain including the original Customs House.
We loved Rockhampton and found that there was lots to do. This included some free and low cost activities which would really suit travelling families.
The first thing you should do when you visit Rockhampton is to head straight to the Visitor Information Centre. Rockhampton Visitor Information Centre is unique in that it sits right on the Tropic of Capricorn. Inside the friendly and knowledgeable staff will get you sorted with plenty of info on things to see and do.
We were delighted to find that Rockhampton has an awesome little free zoo with an amazing array of animals. Although it suffered some significant damage during Cyclone Marcia in 2015, this is slowly being repaired. Other enclosures are undergoing make-overs. Two new aviaries are also being constructed.
Despite this set-back there is still lots to see including chimps, dingoes, crocodiles, kangaroos and koalas, to name just a few. It also has a wonderful enclosed bird aviary where we spotted some gorgeous parrots. It’s amazing that all this is free and open every day from 8am to 4.30pm.
The Rockhampton Zoo is located inside the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. Once we had finished checking out the zoo, we went for a wander through the gardens. Spread out over approximately 70 acres the gardens are very impressive.
The gardens are divided into a number of different sections including a Japanese style garden and a rain forest area. There is also a children’s playground with picnic tables and loads of open space to run around or kick a footy.
The Botanic Gardens back onto a large wetland area called Murray Lagoon. There were plenty of waterbirds around, including lots of ducks who were clammering to be feed.
The whole of the Botanic Gardens offered a peaceful setting for a picnic or just somewhere to relax for a few hours. There was also a cafe that was very popular. As it was school holidays when we visited there were also some organised activities for the kids.
ROCKHAMPTON HERITAGE VILLAGE
The Heritage Village is possibly one of the best that I’ve ever been to. It is spread out over a large area and looks just like a small town from days gone by. The collection of buildings and items on display in those buildings is a testament to the hard work of the staff and volunteers.
I was particularly fascinated with the Country Hospital. This display is housed in the Matron and Sisters’ quarters of Mount Morgan Hospital. It certainly reminded me of a couple of small country hospitals that I have been into. It even smelled a bit like one!
Another delight for me were the complete cottages on display. Some of these like Rosewood Homestead date back to the late 1800’s. It is a fabulous way to get a glimpse of life in days gone by.
Reaching to a height of 6o4 metres, Mount Archer looks over the city of Rockhampton. It is the perfect spot to go for a picnic or a bush walk or just to take in the spectacular views of the city and surrounds. The drive up to Mount Archer takes about 20 minutes. There is a viewing area about halfway up which is worth stopping at.
It is due to undergo a major revamp in the near future which can only add to the appeal of the area. There is also a small cafe there which opens on weekends and is no doubt very popular.
CBD HERITAGE WALK
Our last stop for the day was to head to Quay Street and stroll along the edge of the Fitzroy River. From here you can see the magnificent heritage listed buildings that date back to the establishment of Rockhampton.
This is yet another area of Rockhampton that is undergoing major refurbishment. The foreshore area is now a beautiful spot to go for a walk or just to relax.
With a pub located on each end, there is also an opportunity to stop for a drink or a meal.
Heritage Buildings found here include the Criterion Hotel, the Harbour Board Building, Customs House and the Rockhampton Post Office.
WHERE TO STAY
There are several caravan parks in Rockhampton but we chose to stay at Gracemere Caravan Park which is located about 7 kilometres from the CBD. There is also a free 48-hour stop over located in Kershaw Gardens on the northern side of town. This is for self-contained vehicles only and you must be able to contain your grey water.
We really only skimmed the surface of what we think Rockhampton has to offer. The thing we liked most was the fact that there was plenty of free or low cost things to do. If you want to spend some more time exploring the area then it is only a short drive to the old gold mining town of Mount Morgan or if you want to hit the beach Yeppoon is near by and a gorgeous spot.