Rockhampton is Queensland’s beef capital, the major hub for the expansive cattle country to the west. The famous Rockhampton Bull stands as a testament to this on the outskirts of town welcoming travelers from all around. And while meat may be a big deal here, there are a lot of other great things to do in Rockhampton.
So, this begs the question is Rockhampton worth visiting?
Is Rockhampton worth Visting?
Not only is Rockhampton the beef capital of Queensland, but Rockhampton is also the gateway to the Capricorn Coast, home to an incredible botanical garden, and some of the best rum in the world.
So before you set off to explore the Capricorn Coast, be sure to pull a bar stool up at a local pub for a steak and then get out and explore Rocky with our list of the 24 best things to do in Rockhampton!
Things to Do in Rockhampton
1. Sip the Award Winning Spirits of Saleyards Distillery
We were surprised to learn that Rockhampton had a distillery in the area. We were even more surprised to learn that Saleyards Distillery is raking in the awards on an international level for both its gin and dark rum We dropped in on one of their free daily tastings and tours.
Their Billy Goat Gin which is sensational is full of over 30 different types of botanicals brought together into something beautiful. So long, Christmas tree gins from the past.
And while their gin is outstanding, their Capricorn Spiced rum is phenomenal. Recently awarded the best spiced rum at the 2020 World Rum Awards, if this isn’t reason enough to stop in at Saleyards Distillery I don’t know what is. The experts described the Capricorn Spiced as “Funky nose with exotic fruits and spices. Candied fruits on palate with a nice balance of spice. Very interesting. Nose is really complex and oozes quality and balance. The palate is quite vibrant, which is a nice surprise.” However you might describe the Capricorn Spiced, we guarantee it will be filled with praise.
Stop by and join a tour with the guys at Saleyards. Without a doubt, Saleyards Distillery is the best thing to do in Rockhampton. Make sure to visit soon though. Word on the street is that they might be setting sail.
- Address: 52 Gladstone Rd, Allenstown QLD 4700
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm with tours at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm or by appointment
- Cost: Free
2. Stay at Denison Boutique Hotel
Declared a heritage-listed building by the Queensland Heritage Registry in 2005, no trip to Rocky is complete without a stay at the Denison Boutique Hotel. The building was originally the home of the railway administration for Central and North Queensland. Today, the building welcomes hotel guests with modern amenities but retains the charm and character from an era bygone. Rooms start at $125 AUD a night and include breakfast.
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- Address: 233 Denison St, Rockhampton QLD 4700
- Cost: $125 AUD per night
3. Make Grocery Shopping an Outing
One of our favorite things to do when we travel is to hit up the local farmers’ market and fruit and veg stands. Usually stocked with the freshest produce and the friendliest people, we make “going grocery shopping” an activity. And while it might not sound like one of the best things to do in Rockhampton, you may be pleasantly surprised!
Doblo’s Farmers Market
In Rockhampton, you can visit Doblo’s Farmers Market EVERY DAY! No need to wait until Saturday or Sunday for the local pop-up market. These guys are doing it daily and doing it right. So drop in for some of the freshest fruit and veg in town.
- Address: 6 Goodsall St, The Common QLD 4701
- Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 6:00 am – 5:30 pm and Saturday – Sunday 6:00 am – 2:00 pm
MMM Avocado and Mangos
If you plan to stay in Bouldercombe (more sweet info below), then make sure to visit MMM Avocado and Mangos on your way into Rockhampton. With only a simple honesty box (which I think is unheard of in the US), you can pick up the avos and mangos right from the farm! Breakfast is starting to sound a little bit better, right?
- Address: 106 McEvoy Rd, Kabra, QLD, Australia 4702
- Hours of Operation: Honesty box open all day
4. Dine on a Delicious Steak Dinner (It’s obligatory!)
No trip to Rockhampton is complete without eating beef (sorry veggos!). Seriously, it is on every list as one of the best things to do in Rockhampton. And being the nation’s beef capital, there is no wonder why. Locals consider it a right of passage while visiting Rockhampton.
While there are plenty of pubs and hotels serving up steak, our favorite is the Criterion Hotel. This iconic hotel located on the Fitzroy River was ahead of its time in 1890 and continues to win patrons over year after year. Join the locals and dine on delicious pub steak at the Criterion Hotel while in Rocky. With the “popular” steak being a measly 500 g, you won’t be leaving Rocky hungry.
The Criterion Hotel is also a great place to stay in Rockhampton with hotel and motel options available.
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- Address: 150 Quay St, Rockhampton QLD 4700
- Hours of Operation: Daily from 6:30 am – Late
5. Monkey about at Monkey Pig Brewing
Technically in Yeppoon, on the coast, thirty minutes northeast of Rockhampton, it is a must for any beer enthusiasts. A newcomer on the block, this nano-brewery is honing its expertise and making some quality, unique beers in Yeppoon.
Make sure to stop by their brewery on the drive from Rockhampton to Yeppoon, but only if it’s on a Saturday. Only open on Saturday, timing is important here (unless you are only interested in picking up a few beers or growlers to enjoy at home). If you can’t make it by the brewery, the RSL in Yeppoon and Beaches Restaurant in Rosslyn Bay has a limited selection of these quality brews.
- Address: Shed 1/41-45 Jabiru Dr, Yeppoon QLD 4703
- Hours of Operation: Saturday from 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
6. Grab Coffee from the Trendy Coffee Society
No list is complete without a Flat White in Australia. And, in Rockhampton, no one does one better than the Coffee Society! Located on the main street in Rocky, Coffee Society is the place to go to for coffee, breakfast or lunch. Fantastic coffee, mouthwatering food and good prices.
- Address: 126 East St, Rockhampton QLD 4700
- Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday: from 5:30 am – 2:30 pm and Saturday – Sunday from 6:00 am – 2:30 pm
7. Enjoy a Meal or Beer at Headricks Lane
One of Rockhampton’s only trendy restaurants, Headricks Lane is a must for foodie travelers. A perfectly curated menu will satisfy all of your cravings from DIY pork spring rolls to braised osso bucco! And don’t forget to try one of the local brews from their microbrewery. Headricks Lane specializes in ales from pale ales to session ales to kolsch ales, but they are always looking to expand their range so make sure to stop by for the most up-to-date brewing list!
Headricks is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5:00 pm, but looking to add breakfast options soon!
- Address: 189 East St, Rockhampton QLD 4700
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday from 5:00 pm
8. Get Festive at a Festival in Rockhampton
The Rockhampton River Festival generally occurs in September each year and is a free festival including arts, music, and over 100 market and food stalls.
The Capricorn Wine and Food Festival holds four events per year that showcase local restaurants and food in the region on the banks of the Fitzroy River.
For more Rockhampton events, make sure to visit the Rockhampton Regional Council Community Events Board.
Free Things to Do in Rockhampton
You may still be asking the question “is Rockhampton worth it?” but with plenty of free things to do in Rockhampton, I am sure you will be convinced to explore Rockhampton and the surrounding area.
9. Be Artsy at the Rockhampton Art Gallery
Established in 1967, the Rockhampton Art Gallery primarily displays works focused on the modernist movement in Australia. With one of the most significant collections in regional Australia, visiting the gallery is highly recommended for things to do in Rockhampton especially if it is raining. The gallery maintains its own permanent collection and also frequently displaces in-house curated projects as well as exhibitions both nationally and internationally.
- Address: 62 Victoria Parade, Rockhampton QLD 4700
- Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and Saturday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Cost: Free
10. Stroll Along the Rockhampton Riverside Walk
As an American, I have never seen so much government funding go to protecting and maintaining coastlines and riverbanks as there is in Australia. Every town situated on a body of water makes a point to provide quality outdoor activity and gathering space and Rockhampton is no different. Strolling along the easy 1 kilometer Rockhampton Riverside Walk in the evening, as one of the most relaxing things to do in Rockhampton. For those with children, the play area at the end of the walk looks pretty cool.
11. Head Outdoors to the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens
The Rockhampton Botanical Gardens are not necessarily what comes to my mind when I think of a garden, but the sprawling parkland features an incredible array of trees and plants. Most impressive among them are perhaps the enormous hoop pines and ranging strangler figs over 150 years old.
Located in the west of Rockhampton, the botanical gardens are one of the best things to do in Rockhampton outdoors. Meander along the pathway by the lagoon, check out the rare fruit tree orchard, hit up the Hugo Lassen Fernery, grab a coffee from the kiosk and sit under and amongst the massive Banyan Fig tree, or find solace in the Japanese Garden. With so many different things to see, there is something for everyone at the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens.
The Rockhampton Botanical Gardens is also home to the Rockhampton Zoo as well as the Rockhampton War Memorial. You can easily spend an hour or two enjoying the outdoors and even get your fitness on with the outdoor gym by the lagoon!
- Address: 100 Spencer St, West Rockhampton QLD 4700
- Hours of Operation: Daily from 6:00 am – 6:30 pm
- Cost: Free
12. Hike Mount Archer
If outdoor activities are for you, then head up to Mount Archer. Despite looking more like a hill than a mountain, it is still one of the best outdoor things to do in Rockhampton. There are a handful of walking trails to explore from an easy 500 m circuit to longer 2.4 km hikes both starting from Fraser Park Lookout. Fraser Park Lookout is also a great place on Mount Archer to watch the sunset over Rocky.
- Address: Pilbeam Dr, Mount Archer QLD 4701
- Hours of Operation: 24 Hours (Camping and overnight stays not allowed)
- Cost: Free
13. Explore the CBD Heritage with a Self-Guided Tour of Quay Street
The Rockhampton Regional Council has developed a unique self-guided walking tour of the historic downtown of Rockhampton. Hands down one of the best things to do in Rockhampton, especially for those looking to brush up on their local history. Download the pamphlet to your phone or stop by the visitor information center for a hard copy. The tour will take you past some of the beautiful historic buildings of Rockhampton.
- Cost: Free
14. Go Bull Hunting
You won’t need your red cape. As the beef capital of Australia, Rocky has carefully constructed and placed bull statues throughout the city. With six in all, the Rockhampton bull statues represent the six main breeds of cattle in the area. As a fun thing to do in Rockhampton, go around the city of Rocky searching for all of the bull statues. No cheating! No looking online to find where they are all located! Do you think you can find them all in Rocky without any help?!
As the gateway to the Capricorn Coast, one of the best things to do in Rockhampton is to visit a Rockhampton beach. With the coast being only 45 minutes from the CBD, the beach is a day trip from Rockhampton. Here are our favorite Rockhampton beaches and what to do in each!
15. Relax at Yeppoon Beach
Being the closest, the Rockhampton beach of Yeppoon is a popular destination on the Capricorn Coast. The drive from Rockhampton to Yeppoon is only 45 kilometers making it close enough for a day trip although there is plenty to see and do along the Rockhampton coastline and one could easily spend a weekend or longer at one of the Rockhampton beaches.
Yeppoon Main Beach is a stretch of stunning white sand in front of the town with lovely views over Great Keppel Island. Walk along the esplanade, enjoying these picturesque views or head down to the Yeppoon Lagoon (aka swimming pool) to cool down and escape the hot Queensland sun.
While you’re here, don’t miss the opportunity to dine out in Yeppoon. Yeppoon offers relaxed seaside dining at its finest. Easily the best place to eat on the Capricorn Coast, Yeppoon’s James Street is packed with delicious restaurants. Head over to Flour for your morning coffee and brekky or Vue Wine Bar for lunch or dinner!
If you are visiting Yeppoon on a weekend, make sure to check out the Yeppoon Community Markets held each Saturday morning from 6:00 am – 10:00 am at the Yeppoon Showgrounds.
16. Become a History Buff at Emu Park
Just slightly further than Yeppoon from Rockhampton is Emu Park. This scenic coastal town is home to the Singing Ship Sculpture, commemorating Captain Cook’s discovery of Emu Park and Keppel Bay in 1770, and the Centenary of ANZAC Memorial Walk which guides you through the history of the ANZACs while enjoying beautiful coastal views over Keppel Bay and Great Keppel Island.
- Address: Tennent Memorial Drive, Emu Park QLD 4710
- Cost: Free
17. Spot the Whale at Kinka Beach
Between Yeppoon and Emu Park is Kinka Beach. Similar to other Rockhampton beaches, here you will find white sand and views over Keppel. One unique thing about visiting Kinka Beach, however, is the large whale statue. I don’t know what it is about big statues of random things (animals, fruits, instruments, even toys) here, but it is definitely a thing here Down Under. Unfortunately, we did not get a photo for you, but hopefully, you can add one to the list of big things you saw in Australia!
- Address: 37 Bauhinia Rd, Kinka Beach QLD 4703
- Cost: Free
Other Things to Do Around Rockhampton
There is surprisingly an abundance of things to do around Rockhampton and one could easily spend a week exploring all the surrounding area of Rockhampton has to offer. From national parks to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, there is something for everyone. Here is a shortlist of our favorite things to do around Rockhampton.
18. Pretend Your a Local at Nearby Bouldercombe
Set in the hinterland of Livingstone Shire is the small and I mean a very small community of Bouldercombe approximately 20 minutes southwest of Rocky. The locals of Bouldercombe support the caravanning and camping lifestyle for which Australia is known. They offer a donation-based campground with free toilets and gold-coin hot showers. While there may not be much to offer around Bouldercombe, the farmlands are beautiful and the ability to camp regardless of your vehicle (or tent) is a HUGE bonus. Make sure to be respectful of the grounds and clean up after yourself so this place can stay free and open to fellow travelers!
Nearby a short hike takes you to the Bouldercombe Gorge, but watch out for the disused mine shaft.
19. Put Your Walking Shoes on for Capricorn Coast National Park
If you are headed out to a Rockhampton beach, then consider visiting the Capricorn Coast National Park, a series of reserves that stretch along and throughout the Capricorn coastline. Although there are technically six reserves only four are accessible and are a great way to explore the Capricorn Coast. The most popular sections of Capricorn Coast National Park are Double Head and Bluff Point.
The Double Head section flanks Rosslyn Bay Harbor to the right on the headland. This rocky headland is home to Pebble Beach, Rosslyn Lookout, and Fan Rock Lookout. Gaze out to sea at each of these lookouts onto the famous Great Keppel Island and the stunning blue waters for which Queensland is known.
The Bluff Point section is a great day-use area and one of the best things to do in Yeppoon. The Bluff Point Walking Track is a 2.3-kilometer walking tracking featuring mangroves, eucalypti trees, and more. Make sure you take time to stop at Summit Lookout for spectacular views over Great Keppel Island and Turtle Lookout and for your chance to see sea turtles!
20. Check Out Stoney Creek in Byfield State Forest
Stoney Creek located in Byfield State Forest, not to be confused with Byfield National Park (although I really don’t know the difference) is one of the best things to do in Rockhampton. This stunning water is set against lush vegetation, and the crystal clear water is inviting in the hot Queensland sun. Stoney Creek is the perfect place to unwind and relax after a bit of “city life” in Rocky.
A handful of campsites are available at Stoney Creek, but it is best to book in advance as these spots fill up quickly. You’ll know the reason why when you visit!
PS. Look out for the freshwater turtle paddling about in this beautiful oasis. He is a real treat!
21. Relax in Bliss at Ferns Hideaway Resort in Byfield National Park
Tucked away in Byfield National Park is the serene Ferns Hideaway Resort. If you are looking to relax in nature then a trip out to Byfield Mountain Retreat is a must. Nestled amongst the rainforest, these rustic cabins are picture-perfect for a weekend getaway. And with walking tracks, Stoney Creek, and 9-mile beach in Byfield National Park only a stone’s throw away, there is plenty to do.
Each room comes with a kitchen (sorry, no oven), a spa tub (hello, bubble bath), and a great outdoor space. You won’t find any internet access here at the Ferns Hideaway Resort though. Come here to unwind, relax, and spend quality time.
- Address: 67 Cahills Rd, Byfield QLD 4703
- Cost: $170 AUD per night
22. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef at Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island is easily one of the most well-known things to do around Rockhampton. Located only a 45-minute ferry ride off mainland Australia, Great Keppel Island is a great chance for a sneak peek of the majestic Great Barrier Reef if even for only the day.
Once on the island, there is an immense amount of things to do! From island bushwalking tracks that will take you past stunning lookout points to picturesque bays and coves for sunbathing and some amazing snorkeling just off the coastline, there is a huge variety of things to do on Great Keppel Island.
Be sure to stay at Great Keppel Island Holiday Village which offers basic accommodation, glamping tents, and cabins. Prices start at $130 AUD a night.
PS. If you missed your chance to stop by Saleyards Distillery in Rockhampton, Hideaway Bar & Bistro on Great Keppel Island serves their delicious spirits.
23. Go Underground at the Capricorn Caves
Second to Great Keppel Island, the Capricorn Caves are probably the most visited attraction along the Capricorn Coast and one of the best things to do in Rockhampton. The limestone caves formed millions of years ago are in one word impressive. The highlight? The Cathedral Cave with its sheer size, you are sure to be impressed.
The only downside is that tours are mandatory to view the caves. There are three tour options available from the Cathedral Cave tour at $30 per person ($15 per child) for 45 minutes to the Capricorn Adventurer (12+ only) for $65 per person for 120 minutes.
Accommodation is also available at the Capricorn Caves albeit not in the caves themselves. Prices start at $180 AUD per night.
24. Get Off Grid at Stanage Bay
If you like getting off the beaten path and being off-grid then Stanage Bay is the place for you. Some 100 kilometers down a gravelly dirt road, you will find the resemblance of a small beach town. Known as a prime destination for camping and fishing, don’t come here expecting to find much. Just blue waters, white sand beaches, and stunning headlands. Basically all you could ever want and imagine from Queensland and definitely the best Rockhampton beach.
So what do you think? Is Rockhampton worth visiting?
There is more to Rocky than just cattle! An abundance of outdoor activities, stunning coastlines, and even a little bit of the Great Barrier Reef awaits you in this central Queensland town. So what are you waiting for? Let’s put this list of the best things to do in Rockhampton to use and start planning your trip today!
Do you like our list of the best things to do in Rockhampton? Is there a Rockhampton attraction we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Looking for More Queensland Travel Destination Inspiration?
Are you traveling the east coast of Queensland? Maybe you are planning a road trip from Brisbane to Cairns? There are so many great places to visit in Queensland from stunning national parks, some of the world’s best beaches, and even remote outback adventures. Find more Queensland travel destinations in one of our Queensland blog posts below!
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- The Best National Parks Near Brisbane to Visit in 2021
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- The Cape York Trip Planning Guide in 11 Easy Steps
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