Queensland's Secret Gem
For months, caravans across the country were left in the driveway gathering dust – and not the red type showing signs of a well-travelled holiday. As restrictions started to ease, Australians were choosing a road-trip over hopping on a plane, making caravan and drive holidays one of the most sought after travel experiences this year – yet leaving caravanning enthusiasts wondering where they might go to avoid the crowds.
(Nurim Circuit, Mount Archer National Park)
One of Queensland’s unexpected holiday destinations is Rockhampton. Typically known as the Beef Capital of Australia, Rockhampton truly offers the opportunity to reconnect with nature. It has many different experiences on offer allowing you to find the perfect balance between adventure-filled activities and glorious sunsets where you can sit back, relax and take time out for yourself. It’s ideally located in the centre of the Pacific Coast Way (Bruce Highway), Capricorn and Burnett Highways making it the perfect stopover as you make your way up or down the Queensland coastline.
For those looking to get active, Mount Archer (Nurim) National Park has many bushwalks, hikes, mountain bike trails, and an elevated treetop boardwalk offering sweeping panoramic views across Rockhampton and the surrounding countryside. Recently named a Tripadvisor 2020 Travellers’ Choice Winner, Mount Archer is a must-see for all age groups.
(Mount Archer National Park)
From the top of Mount Archer, the Fitzroy River (Tunuba) is clearly visible winding through the city. Famous for barramundi, pronounced ‘bardda moon di’ by the local Indigenous people, the Fitzroy River catchment is defined as the genuine Home of the Barramundi in Australia. Right in the heart of town keen anglers can catch metre-long barramundi, king threadfin salmon and many other fish species. Fishermen and women from across Australia visit Rockhampton to fish the Fitzroy and try their luck at catching trophy-sized barramundi, and over four annual fishing competitions are held in the region each year. A local fishing charter also offers sunset river cruises along the Fitzroy, so you can take in the sights of the river and Rockhampton’s city with a beverage and cheese platter in hand (if that’s more your thing).
(Land based fishing on the Fitzroy River)
If you’re more of a history buff, Rockhampton is a town full of heritage and history. From late 1800s to early 1900s, the discovery and development of the Mount Morgan mine provided the region with funding for many impressive buildings along Quay Street, now Queensland’s longest National Trust heritage-listed street. Commencing operation in 1882, the Mount Morgan mine became one of the richest gold mines in Australia, and for a period of time the world. During its 99 years of mining the area declared a total of 252 tons of gold, 27 tons of silver and 284 tons of copper. When visiting Rockhampton, make sure you take a daytrip to Mount Morgan and delve into the area’s early successes and fascinating past at one of the many museums.
(Frank Golding Lookout, Mount Morgan)
While visiting the region, take some time out to explore Rockhampton’s picturesque parks. Celebrating 150 years in 2020, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens is one of the oldest and most established public gardens in Queensland. The site has been heritage listed since 1999 and offers a number of iconic plantings, including the 150 year old canopy of Banyan figs and avenue of Bunya pines. Nestled within the Botanic Gardens is Rockhampton Zoo, home to over 60 native and exotic animals and is one of only four zoos across Australia with chimpanzees. The family of seven includes two baby chimps, with the older sibling being the first chimp to be born in Queensland since the 1970s.
Outside of the city lies a range of farm stays to choose from where you can enjoy a leisurely horseback ride, feed farm animals, toast marshmallows by the campfire, ride a quadbike, and catch that picture perfect sunset. Each farm stay is situated on working, family-run cattle properties providing an authentic farm experience. A number of the properties also have onsite camping and caravanning facilities so you can park your caravan and stay for the night.
(Horse riding at Alkoomi Adventure Farm Stay)
For lapidary lovers who are keen fossickers, Mount Hay Gemstone Park is a 30 minute drive west of Rockhampton. Mount Hay is the remains of an extinct ancient volcano last active 120 million years ago. When active, the volcano had millions of gas bubbles present in the molten rhyolite lava – forming thunder eggs. Take a drive, head to Mount Hay and fossick for your very own thunder eggs while learning about the history of the ancient volcano.
Just a 30 minute drive away from Rockhampton, explore underground caves that are 390 million years old. Whether you’re a thrill seeker or just want to marvel at the beauty of underground geological formations, Capricorn Caves offers a range of tours for all ages and fitness abilities. They also have powered camp and caravan sites available.
Although Rockhampton is known as the Beef Capital, there’s more to Rockhampton than steakhouses. Whether you’re looking for an intimate fine dining experience, riverfront restaurants, suburban cafes or typical pub meal, Rockhampton has a mix of dining options to choose from. Rockhampton is also home to a micro-brewery and distillery, so if tastings of hand-crafted beer, gin or rum with a side of chips is more your thing, Rockhampton has it.
(Waterfall at Kershaw Gardens)
There’s so much on offer in Rockhampton that you will be spoilt for choice when you visit. Dust off the caravan, pack the camping chairs and hit the road. When you stop in Rockhampton, curb your caravan at one of the many comfortable holiday parks, or for those with self-contained vehicles you can stop at Rockhampton’s free camping spot at Kershaw Gardens.
Written by Explore Rockhampton