I was born and spent 23 years of my life living in the Central Queensland town, Rockhampton. While I eventually sought out the bright city lights of Brisbane, the beef capital has a lot to offer and should be viewed as more than just a half way stop between the south and north of Queensland. Next time you are making your way up or down the Queensland coast, consider stopping in Rocky for more than one night.

Friday

If coming from the South, the first thing that alerts you of your arrival in Rockhampton is the large Bull welcoming you in. You will most likely be quite travel weary and needing to stop for a hearty meal. One of my favourite things about Rocky is the unique food that can only be found in this town alone. If you’re looking for a pub meal at good value, stop in for a “crummy at the Brunny” which translates to a crumbed steak at the Brunswick Hotel. If you are looking for something for something a little more upmarket, you can head to Café Bliss or Pacino’s’. Afterwards, you can stroll up the newly rebuilt riverbank that suffered a substantial amount of damage in the recent cyclone but is now looking prettier than ever, especially at night. For a casual nightcap you can stop at the Oxford Hotel where there is always live music, be sure to order a Gypsy Kiss which is a secret concoction unique to this pub. Be warned, these drinks pack quite a punch so if you’re not looking for a late night, I would recommend only one or two and certainly not a jug. The place to stay is definitely in the newer hotels and apartments in the CBD area and it will only be a short walk back to your hotel.

Saturday

Stroll back along the riverbank and back into ‘The Mall’ area for a day time view of the classic buildings and stop in for breakfast at either The Giddy Goat or Jolt Bakery Café for breakfast. Both offer appetising menus and The Giddy Goat has newly been renovated in a very funky, modern style. Jolt is set in the old post office building so if you’re looking for classy and refined, this is your place. I am also a little biased towards Jolt as I was a waitress here in a former life.

Getting around by car is definitely the best way to see Rockhampton as there isn’t a large public transport system, especially on the weekend. After breakfast, you can drive to the Botanical Gardens which is surrounded by some of the fanciest houses in towns. There is a zoo with a number of animals to see and if you have children, the playground will definitely keep them entertained. You can also walk down to the lagoon and feed the large number of geese, ducks and turtles who make the lagoon their home.

After spending time at the Gardens, drive all the way over to the north side and up Mount Archer for a picnic lunch (I would definitely suggest popping into Captain Nemos on your way through to pick up one of their famous sub sandwiches). You may be a little full after your lunch so you can go for a short walk to the lookout. On your way back down, you will see another lookout on the side of the road, this gives you a view of the city lights which at night, due to unfortunate town planning, spell ‘Hell’.

For dinner head to the Criterion Hotel which is another gorgeous old building and a steakhouse. Those looking for a challenge can order a kilogram steak and I would definitely recommend getting the Cri Fries. After dinner, you can dance to live music and then stroll back into the Mall to hit up one of Rockhampton’s three nightclubs.  The Giddy Goat doubles as one of these with a chilled out bar offering live music downstairs and a nightclub with a dance floor upstairs. If you so desire, you can visit Zodiac Nightclub which is a nightclub in one side and strip club on the other.

Sunday

After sleeping off the night before, stop into Cranston’s Pies for a ‘pie plus meal’. This heavenly meal consists of a pie of your choosing, chips and gravy and is the perfect cure to any hangover. Then drive to Yeppoon which is only a forty-minute drive away and has some amazing beaches for you to relax on. Go to the main beach front and take a walk, there are also some lovely shops to window shop in.

From Yeppoon, you can venture a bit further to the hippy town of Byfield for some Yoga, go to Stony Creek for a very refreshing swim, or if you have the right vehicle, four wheel drive up to Five Rocks. Off the coast of Yeppoon, you can catch the catamaran to Great Keppel Island for a tropical paradise getaway.

If the beach isn’t your thing, you can see the local aboriginal history at the Dreamtime Centre or drop into the Heritage Village. Those up for a bit more adventure, can go to the Caves just out of town and take a tour.

As you can see Rockhampton really does have a lot to offer in food, adventure, relaxation and entertainment. Next time you pass through, definitely make it more than a 24 hour stay.

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