Heading into Rockhampton and Gladstone is like heading back in time, in a number of ways. Filled with unique deco and famous Queenslander buildings, there’s something endearing about these living museums. As a regional administrative centre and the designated Meat Capital of Australia, Rockhampton’s cowboy-centric culture brings in droves of people, and the nearby region is great for experiencing life in a truly rural fashion. Not too far south, Gladstone looks out to the Great Barrier Reef, while behind it lays many National Parks ripe for trekking. There’s quite a bit to do in this part of the tropical heartland, whether you decide to check out these attractions or others, such as the Dreamtime Cultural Centre that allows visitors to get an insight into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history. Whatever you decide to do, Rockhampton and Gladstone are towns you just can’t afford to miss!
Less than 25km north of Rockhampton lay the Capricorn Caves, a unique system of aboveground caves in a limestone ridge. These illuminated passages are a fantastic sight to see, but especially during the period of the summer solstice, when the light from the sun comes down naturally from the roof of some of the caves. These caves elicit many echoing sounds throughout, making it an incredible place to see an incredible concert as well, performed by the Underground Opera.
The Cathedral Tour, the cave’s most popular, lasts about an hour. It is a guided walk that takes you to see some of the highlights, including a possible sighting of some sky rock wallabies. You’ll be able to spot natural navigation markers in the stalagmites and stalactites, and perhaps see a glimpse of a bat colony after rainfall. Of course, there are other ways to experience the Capricorn Caves, including an adrenalin pumping exploration throughout the entirety of the caves that isn’t for the fitness-phobic.
For a regional city, Rockhampton has a number of great museums that can keep anyone occupied. Head to see an interesting mix of Australian artwork at the Rockhampton City Art Gallery, or for a different experience, check out the Dreamtime Cultural Centre for a hands-on approach to learning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.
The areas around Rockhampton and Gladstone are known for their working cattle ranches, and at a few of them you’re able to immerse yourself in cattle culture. Exploring the bush using a variety of means, caring for orphaned joeys at kangaroo centres, and just unwinding in tranquillity are just some of the things that a cattle ranch stay can offer.
Rockhampton has a ton of accommodations for businesspeople, since it is a regional commerce centre, but there are also some options available for the backpacking set. There’s a local YHA located just across the Fitzroy River from town centre, and some of the hotels on Quay St overlooking the river are surprisingly affordable.
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