Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Rockhampton, Queensland

  • Published 2022/08/10

Also known as the “Beef Capital of Australia,” Rockhampton is one of the oldest cities in Queensland.

Boasting a mix of breathtaking nature and fascinating history, this riverside city will take you back to the state’s colonial past.

Its streets are not only lined with statues of bovines but also with stunning Victorian structures.

Rockhampton lies on the tropic of Capricorn, which makes the city even more glorious.

Fondly nicknamed “Rocky,” the city is a famous tourist destination that welcomes people from all over the globe to explore its culture and witness its history.

These are the best things to do in Rockhampton, Australia:

Visit the Stunning Rockhampton Art Gallery

Exterior of the Rockhampton Art Gallery

Alizada Studios /

Established in 1967, the Rockhampton Art Gallery is one of Australia’s finest regional art galleries.

It’s a top-rated tourist attraction you must visit if you want to witness Australia’s culture and history.

Located along Victoria Parade, the gallery features several notable and revered works by artists like Jeffrey Smart, Sidney Nolan, James Gleeson, and Arthur Boyd.

View looking out the Rockhampton Art Gallery window

IngeBlessas /

While it’s mainly known for its collection of mid-20th-century Australian paintings, it houses more than 1,700 pieces, including artifacts, British art, Japanese art, and sports memorabilia.

The Rockhampton Art Gallery also displays a unique exhibition and works by local artists.

The venue hosts several activities such as Quiz Nights, Come and Try Drawing and Painting evenings, BYO vinyl record Sunday, and more.

There’s also a small on-site cafe where you can grab snacks after touring the gallery.

Enjoy Watching Animals at Rockhampton Zoo

Kangaroos in Rockhampton Zoo

Conniejane Flohr /

Located on the grounds of the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens on Spencer Street, Rockhampton Zoo specializes in Australian fauna.

It is home to more than 70 Australian and international animal species that include kangaroos, dingoes, macaws, chimpanzees, lion-tailed macaques, koalas, crocodiles, cassowaries, emus, and more.

Entrance to the Rockhampton Zoo

Alizada Studios /

Visitors are welcome to watch the animals being fed during the zoo’s regular feeding time show.

You can also take an educational tour of the zoo to learn about the different animals.

Rockhampton Zoo is a fantastic place to spend your day observing beautiful animals in peace.

A koala sitting on a tree in Rockhampton Zoo

caseyjadew /

Catch a Show at the Pilbeam Theatre

Entrance doors of Pilbeam Theatre

RegionalQueenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1979, the Pilbeam Theatre has a position of prominence in the regional arts and entertainment industry.

It is one of the most highly admired stages in Queensland.

The theater provides a venue for local entertainers and international shows and showcases culture and entertainment in the city of Rockhampton.

The site can accommodate about 1,000 people at one time.

It also has a wine bar and confectionary kiosk where guests can grab a drink or a treat before or during a show.

The Pilbeam Theatre’s location is terrific; it overlooks the Fitzroy River and offers a sweeping view of the surroundings.

Make sure to catch a show or two at the Pilbeam Theatre when you visit this delightful city.

Go Back in Time at the Rockhampton Heritage Village

Exterior of a store at Rockhampton Heritage Village

RegionalQueenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rockhampton Heritage Village is a township museum located on Boundary Road.

Set on 12 hectares, the museum showcases Rockhampton’s history and culture from the 1850s to the 1950s.

It comprises a school, fire station, cottages, woolshed, and a collection of antique machinery and vehicles.

The township museum also houses several admirable displays of timepieces in the Hall of Clocks and an expansive array of dolls.

A festival at Rockhampton Heritage Village

RegionalQueenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

All the buildings were reconstructed based on photographs of the old original buildings.

The venue hosts many festivities, such as market days, Halloween events, and more.

The Rockhampton Heritage Village also has a tourist center and a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs to remember Rockhampton.

Horse carriage ride at Rockhampton Heritage Village

RegionalQueenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Charming Quay Street

Exterior of a building at Quay Street

Alizada Studios /

Quay Street is the perfect place to start exploring the city of Rockhampton.

This commemorated street boasts approximately 30 historic buildings of historical importance.

Quay Street is the longest National Trust heritage-listed street in Australia.

Buildings along Quay Street

IngeBlessas /

Take Your Kids to the Beautiful Kershaw Gardens

Pretty butterflies at Kershaw Gardens

AustralianPhoto /

The 50-hectare Kershaw Gardens is also known as Rockhampton’s big backyard.

It also has a well-kept play area for children, along with picnic tables where you can enjoy a barbeque with friends and family.

Pay a Visit to St Joseph’s Cathedral

Exterior of St Joseph's Cathedral

IngeBlessas /

Built from 1893 to 1982, St Joseph’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic place of worship in Rockhampton.

This magnificent church is included on Australia’s National Heritage List.

Entrance doors of St Joseph's Cathedral

IngeBlessas /

It has beautiful stained glass windows and stunning architecture that will win your heart.

You can find St Joseph’s Cathedral on the corner of William and West streets.

Bell tower of St Joseph's Cathedral

IngeBlessas /

Stroll around Rockhampton and Discover Its Best-Kept Secrets

Rockhampton sidewalk

Joe Huynh /

Walking is one of the best ways to explore any destination.

Rockhampton is a small city, making it perfect for exploring it on foot.

You can stroll around to take in the charming city’s scenic glory and discover what it has to offer while gazing at its magnificent architecture.

Night scene at a Rockhampton street

Alex Cimbal /

Walk the beef capital of Australia’s broad streets lined with statues of bovines.

You can find the city’s little secrets that you wouldn’t have known if you were exploring it any other way.

Surround Yourself with Nature at the Gorgeous Rockhampton Botanic Gardens

Daytime view of Rockhampton Botanic Garden

Nina Alizada /

Among the oldest gardens in Queensland, the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens are a heritage-listed garden and zoo.

The garden is stunning, with beautiful greenery all around.

Tall trees in Rockhampton Botanic Gardens

caseyjadew /

You can bring your own food to enjoy a picnic in the delightful garden.

The Rockhampton Botanic Gardens are located on Spencer Street.

Attend a Rodeo Event at the Great Western Hotel

Have you ever witnessed a rodeo before?

If not, you’ll have the chance to see one for the first time in Rockhampton.

Established in 1862, the Great Western Hotel is a Rockhampton institution known to host weekly rodeo events.

The best cowgirls and cowboys compete in the ring to ride live bulls.

Along with the rodeo, the Great Western Hotel serves excellent food to complement the great atmosphere.

There are ringside tables available so guests can enjoy the rodeo up close.

The hotel is located along Stanley Street.

Sift through Vintage Finds at Rockhampton’s Top Thrift Stores

Rockhampton is a gold mine of thrift stores, and you can find good bargains and deals.

The stores and neat and clean with nicely organized clothes and accessories.

Located on East Street, Classy Seconds is one of the best thrift stores in the city.

Book a Stay at One of the City’s Best Hotels

Looking for a great place to stay won’t be a problem when visiting the delightful city of Rockhampton.

The city has a wide range of hotels that range from budget-friendly to luxurious.

Quality Hotel Regent, Travelodge Hotel, Quest, Cosmopolitan Motel & Serviced Apts, and Southside Holiday Village are some of the most comfortable hotels in the city.

These hotels are conveniently located, overlooking the ocean, and provide many amenities to make your stay more comfortable.

Experience Rockhampton’s Thriving Nightlife Scene

Night view of Criterion Hotel

Alex Cimbal /

Are you looking to experience the city’s nightlife?

You cannot miss the bars and clubs when you’re in Rockhampton.

The city is home to fantastic bars and clubs where you can drink and enjoy live music.

Exterior of Allenstown Hotel

RegionalQueenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The coastal bars are excellent venues to enjoy drinks with a stunning view.

O’Dowd’s Pub, Allenstown Hotel, Criterion Hotel, Ginger Mule, The Spinnaker Keppel Bay Sailing Club, and Rosslyn Bay are some of the most famous places to drink in Rockhampton.

Visit these places to have a good time and to enjoy yourself.

Treat Yourself to Satisfying Meals at the Beef Capital’s Top Restaurants

Rockhampton offers a wide variety of cuisines, but it is known for its Australian fare and vegetarian and vegan options.

Coffee Society, Coffee House Restaurant, and Café Bliss are popular cafes to grab sandwiches and coffee in the city.

You cannot miss out on steaks in the beef capital.

Visit The Criterion and Headricks Lane to enjoy hearty steaks and other meaty dishes.

Learn Something New at Archer Park Rail Museum

Exterior of Archer Park Rail Museum

RegionalQueenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Included on Australia’s National Heritage List, Archer Park Rail Museum was built in 1899 and showcases Rockhampton’s railway history.

It displays beautifully arranged memorabilia and offers steam train rides for adults and children.

Archer Park Rail Museum is located on Deniston Street.

See Local Flora and Trees at Dreamtime Cultural Centre

Exterior of Dreamtime Cultural Centre

Alizada Studios /

You’ll find the Dreamtime Cultural Centre on the Bruce Highway, six kilometers outside central Rockhampton.

The property sits on the northern bank of Limestone Creek, with local flora, trees, and a sizable waterfall.

Robert James Lee Hawke, a previous Australian prime minister, formally launched the Dreamtime Cultural Center on April 9, 1988.

Entrance to the Dreamtime Cultural Centre

RegionalQueenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is acknowledged that the Darambul Tribe was the first group to live on the site.

The gardens are a part of a visitor-accessible interpretive path, and the waterfall makes a lovely backdrop for any event.

Stroll around Rockhampton Riverside Precinct

There is a beautiful variety of historic structures in Rockhampton that date back to the 1800s.

Along with the city’s row of heritage-listed structures, Rockhampton Riverside Precinct is a model of contemporary, integrated urban planning.

The most incredible views of the Fitzroy River can be seen in Rockhampton’s Riverside Precinct, which is situated in the center of the city.

Any time is a great time to stroll around the area but to enjoy the dazzling light fully, go there early in the morning before the people arrive.

You can stroll down Quay Street along the Fitzroy River, surrounded by contemporary art, natural plants, and indigenous heritage in Rockhampton Riverside Precinct.

Grab Drinks at Headricks Lane

Located on East Street, Headricks Lane will entice you with its lavish outside façade and gorgeous modern interiors boasting magnificent raw resources set against customized natural beauty.

The expansive location has a cafe, bar, formal and informal dining area, private dining room, and event space on the ground floor.

Headricks Lane’s interior exudes peace thanks to its sparse furniture, yet a bustle of activity ensures that there is always a buzz.

Additionally, it has a microbrewery run by Alex Taubert, a Cicerone-certified brewer and one of Queensland’s most interesting new brewers.

Whether you’re enjoying a meal with relatives or buddies, witnessing the open kitchen in progress, or attending a huge event, you’ll always be greeted with a smile and get first-rate service.

Spend the Night at Quest Rockhampton

Situated along Victoria Parade, Quest Rockhampton’s serviced apartment-style hotel rooms provide visitors with a pleasant lodging experience ideal for short or extended visits.

There are 73 serviced apartments available at Quest Rockhampton, including studio, one, and two-bedroom apartments.

Studios with kitchenettes are the ideal substitute for standard hotel rooms.

The one and two-bedroom apartments are perfect for families, business associates, or bigger groups searching for a home far from experience with full kitchens and laundry facilities.

Quest Rockhampton’s guests can easily walk to the Fitzroy River, which is lined with many great places to eat.

Host a Big Event at Boathouse Rockhampton

Your hunt is over if you’re seeking an exquisite location to host an event with delectable food and beverages.

Boathouse Rockhampton is the ideal location for your upcoming event since it is positioned in the city’s revitalized riverbank district and offers spectacular waterfront views from every angle of the venue.

The venue’s large terrace overlooks the famed Fitzroy River and provides a breathtaking view unmatched in Rockhampton.

They can easily accommodate 200 guests for sit-down events or up to 300 guests for stand-up cocktail events.

Boathouse Rockhampton’s progressive cuisine combines the finest seafood and seasonal items with a chic and vibrant beverage selection to enhance the stunning waterfront environment.

You can find this restaurant along Quay Street.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Remember Fallen Heroes at the Centenary of ANZAC Memorial Walk

Emu Park Anzac War Memorial Boardwalk

Alizada Studios /

Forty kilometers from Rockhampton, the Centenary of ANZAC Memorial Walk is rich in history and nature.

This war memorial honors the ANZACs who fought and died in World War I, and the attraction comprises a gallery showcasing the ANZACs’ history.

The 175-meter boardwalk overlooks the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, which contributes to the estate’s beauty.

You can also see the Keppel Bay group of Islands from here.

Offering a mix of the spectacular beauty of nature and a respectful tribute to fallen heroes, this place near Rockhampton is worth checking out.

The Centenary of ANZAC Memorial Walk is wheelchair-friendly.

Enjoy Secluded Beaches at Keppel Bay Islands National Park

Scenic view of Keppel Bay Islands

Alizada Studios /

Keppel Bay Islands National Park is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and surround yourself with tranquil surroundings.

It is located just a short bus and ferry ride away from Rockhampton.

Comprising 13 islands, the park is of national and scientific importance and provides shelter to several endangered plants and animals.

The Keppel Bay Islands are surrounded by the heritage-listed Great Reef Barrier, which makes the beauty of this scenic place even more breathtaking.

You can camp on limited islands as long as you acquire and present the necessary permits.

Keppel Bay Islands National Park offers a peaceful environment with secluded beaches to enjoy Australia’s much renowned natural beauty.

Appreciate Nature at Mount Archer National Park

View from Mount Archer National Park

Alexander Jung /

Mount Archer National Park is located in Central Queensland, making up Rockhampton’s stunning backdrop.

The 4,250-hectare park is just half an hour’s drive from Rockhampton.

The Archer brothers first explored these woods, which is why the national park is named after them.

The waters of Mount Archer National Park

Ethel Aardvark, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can participate in bushwalking, rock climbing, and hiking.

The park’s highest peak is Mount Archer, which stands 604 meters above sea level.

You can spend a perfect day picnicking at the park amid the natural beauty and a serene environment.

Embark on an Underground Adventure at Capricorn Caves

People in the Capricorn Caves

Jackson Stock Photography /

Located 23 kilometers from Rockhampton, Capricorn Caves are among Australia’s biggest privately owned caves.

They are limestone caves that were first discovered in 1881 and are home to several wildlife and plant species.

It is popular among tourists in Rockhampton and is one of the longest-standing tourist attractions in Queensland.

Hanging bridge of Capricorn Caves

Alizada Studios /

You can take a guided tour to explore and learn the history of these limestone caves.

Capricorn Caves has amazing acoustics that will amaze you.

Wooden steps leading down to Capricorn Caves

Jackson Stock Photography /

Join a Guided Tour of Koorana Crocodile Farm

Koorana Crocodile Farm is a commercial crocodile farm located half an hour’s drive from Rockhampton in Coowonga.

The farm offers a 1.5-hour guided tour that is informative and entertaining.

You can learn fun facts about crocodiles, and after the tour, you can enjoy delicious crocodile meals.

Final Thoughts

Among the state’s oldest cities, Rockhampton is located just inland from the Central Queensland Coast and was founded along the Fitzroy River.

Due to its location on the Tropic of Capricorn, Rockhampton features one of the top zoos in the state and a beautiful, lush botanical garden.

There are several outdoor activities, walking trails, and opportunities to learn about the area’s history and culture.

Travelers can make the most of their adventure by checking out this list of the best things to do in Rockhampton, Australia.

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