17 Charming Things to do in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast

Come to Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast with a sense of curiosity. Among the things to do in Rockhampton you’ll encounter rich cultural experiences, joyful outdoor activities, fascinating history museums, and awe-inspiring national parks.

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Rockhampton, affectionately known as Rocky, is so much more than cattle country in Central Queensland. In this calm underestimated city, you can enjoy modern comforts while being 30 minutes from the Southern Great Barrier Reef and 1.5 hours from the Eastern Outback Region of Queensland.

The Traditional Owners of the Capricorn Coast are the Darumbal People for the area from Rockhampton to Marlborough and the Woppaburra People for the Keppel Islands.

Located on the East Coast of Australia, Rockhampton’s airport receives flights from Brisbane, Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns. You’ll need a vehicle to get around and can hire a car from the airport. Or if you’re planning a road trip, Rockhampton is approximately seven hours from Brisbane.

Fun things to do in Rockhampton City

We recommend at least three days to try out all of Rockhampton attractions, plus a few extra if you’re planning day trips. In this post, we’re helping you plan a remarkable trip to Rocky with the best things to do in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast.

Throw a boomerang at Dreamtime Cultural Centre

What better introduction to the Rockhampton region than by the Traditional Owners? The Dreamtime Cultural Centre provides an opportunity to learn from the oldest continuous culture on earth with their museum and guided tours.

Dreamtime Cultural Centre Rockhampton
Dreamtime Cultural Centre

We were led by Wayne, a Darumbal man, through a 34-metre recreation of caves in the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt while listening to the fascinating local history. At the end of the tour, he treated us to a didgeridoo performance and the chance to throw different types of boomerangs.

Big Dugong Dreamtime Cultural Centre

Additionally, there’s a Torres Strait Islander’s Complex with an awesome giant dugong, huts with artefacts, and plants of significant to the Torres Strait Islander Culture.

Where: 703-751 Yaamba Rd, Parkhurst
When: Open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3:30 pm with daily tours at 10:30 am
How much: $15.50 adults, $10.50 seniors, $7.50 students and children with a family concession available.

Get high at Mount Archer National Park

Mount Archer National Park is one of the most memorable things to do in Rockhampton. Just pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes, but don’t worry if you’re not an avid hiker, there are hiking trails for every level of fitness. Plus, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over Rockhampton, the Fitzroy River, and nearby mountain ranges.

Mount Archer National Park
Mount Archer National Park
  • Walking Track Circuit – an easy 500 metre circuit that is wheelchair accessible
  • Bracken Fern Way – 1.4 kilometres return to look out over Mounts Badger, Sleipner and Berserker
  • Sleipner Lookout Walk – a moderate 2.4 kilometres to taste the first section of the Zamia Trail, with an uphill return
  • Zamia Trail – a challenging 14km hike descending from the top of Mount Archer National Park to the entrance. You’ll need to arrange to be picked up at the end or return the way you came.

Where: Pilbeam Dr, Mount Archer
When: Open 24 hours a day, year round but recommended hiking with plenty of daylight hours
How much: Free.

Stroll through CBD Riverside Park

Nestled up against the Fitzroy River is Quay Street, one of Queensland’s longest National Trust heritage-listed streets. This is the heart of the Rockhampton city, with gorgeous historic buildings concentrated within a few blocks for you to enjoy on foot. Take a self-guided CBD Heritage Walk with the Explore Rockhampton app or brochure with map.

Riverside Walk Rockhampton 116038 56 1
Rockhampton waterfront walk, Credit: Tourism Events Queensland

Local tip: If you’re in need of refreshments, grab a cuppa from the beloved Coffee Society Rockhampton or have lunch overlooking the river at our go-to, the Boat House.

Where: Start at the Harbour Board Building at 288 Quay Street, Rockhampton QLD
When: Early morning or late afternoons may be best during summer to avoid the heat
How much: Free.

While you’re visiting Rockhampton downtown, step inside the cool interior of the Rockhampton Museum of Art. This newly opened art museum has one of the most significant collections in regional Australia with the works of great Australian modernist painters. Their ever-changing exhibition program also features local and international artists.

 Rockhampton Art Gallery
Rockhampton Art Gallery

Local tip: Check out the events page for guided tours, creative workshops such as calligraphy, as well as yoga and pilates classes inside the gallery.

Where: 220 Quay Street, Rockhampton
When: Open seven days per week from 9am – 4pm
How much: Free entrance to the gallery with some events requiring payment.

Groove to live music at Pilbeam Theatre

Opened in 1989, the Pilbeam Theatre is Central Queensland’s performing arts centres. You can catch a comedy show, contemporary dance performance, classical orchestra set, or hear live music from your favourite bands in a tribute show.

Where: Victoria Parade &, Cambridge St, Rockhampton
When: See the Pilbeam Theatre website for upcoming shows
How much: Ticket prices vary from show to show. Make sure you purchase directly from the Box Office or on their website, See It Live.

Search for the Rockhampton bulls

Did you know that there are seven bull statues dotted around Rockhampton? These creations are a tribute to Rocky’s status as the beef capital of Australia. You’ll need a car, a sense of adventure, and this map to follow the cowpat road.

The Brahman, one of seven of Rockhampton's big bulls
The Brahman, one of seven of Rockhampton’s big bulls

Where: Starting at the Big Brahman Bull Statue, Bruce Hwy, Port Curtis
When: Anytime. It’s estimated to take 40 minutes of driving from end to end.
How much: Free.

Spot flora and fauna at Rockhampton Botanic Gardens

The Rockhampton Botanical Garden is easily one of the best things to do in Rockhampton for families and outdoor lovers. The expansive grounds feature the striking Rockhampton War Memorial, arid gardens with desert plans, a Japanese garden with a photogenic waterfall, paved walking tracks, and the Rockhampton Zoo.

Take a picnic rug to enjoy your lunch next to the Murray Lagoon. There is free parking here, but it fills quickly so you may need to park in the surrounding streets.

Where: 100 Spencer St, West Rockhampton
When: Open seven days a week from 6 am to sunset.
How much: Free.

See classic trains at Archer Park Rail Museum

Built in the 1890s, the Archer Park Rail Museum is home to a restored Purrey Steam Tram and memorabilia from the World War II ear. This is a family-friendly dose of Australian history and especially exciting for kinds during the Family Fun Days and school holiday activities.

Archer Park Rail Museum
Archer Park Rail Museum

Check the Archer Park Rail Museum website for upcoming events.

Where: 51-87 Denison St, Rockhampton
When: Open Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm and Sunday from 9:00 to 1:00 pm.
How much: $10 adults, $7 concessions, and $6 children with a family pass available.

Sample craft brews at Hendricks Lane

Hendricks Lane is one of Rockhampton’s premier dining destination and only micro brewery in the city. The trendy venue has separate areas for the bar and restaurant both offering handpicked, uncomplicated menus featuring dishes with locally-sourced ingredients.

Hendricks Lane 1

Where: 189 East Street, Rockhampton
When: Open Tuesday to Thursday from 5 pm to 10 pm and Friday to Saturday from 5 pm to midnight
How much: See the Hendricks Lane website for their brewery and restaurant menus.

Find the waterfall at Kershaw Gardens

For a regional city in Central Queensland, Rockhampton has a surprising amount of green spaces and one of those is Kershaw Gardens. These spacious parklands stretch one kilometre containing short walking tracks, tranquil pockets of gardens, and impressive play areas for the kids. While exploring Kershaw Gardens, it can be fun to try to find the waterfall.

This is another great spot for a family picnic.

Local tip: If you’re traveling in a self-contained campervan or motorhome, there’s a free campground at the High Street Entrance of Kershaw Gardens. It’s not suitable for tent camping.

Where: Moores Creek Rd, Park Avenue
When: Open 24 hours a day, year round
How much: Free.

Go vintage at Rockhampton Heritage Village

Get an idea what life was like in Rockhampton between 1850 and 1950 with a visit to the Rockhampton Heritage Village. Owned and operated by Rockhampton Regional Council, this township museum provides a family-friendly glimpse into the past.

Explore homesteads, a blacksmith’s shop, a timber cutter’s camp, and vintage machinery. Kids can meet the farm animals and take a ride in a vintage car.

Check for the Rockhampton Heritage Village Facebook page for events and opening hours during school holidays.

Where: 296 Boundary Rd, Parkhurst
When: Open seven days per week from 10 am with the last entry at 3 pm.
How much: $5 for everyone aged 3 years and over.

Cruise the Fitzroy River at Sunset

Cap off a day in Rockhampton with a cruise on the Fitzroy River. Choose from two tours by River Cruises CQ, including a complimentary nibbles package, or by night on the City Lights Tour. Either way, you’ll get to learn more about the iconic Fitzroy River while keeping an eye out for local wildlife. You may even see a crocodile!

Where: Departing Robert Clark Drive, The Common
When: Every Saturday. The Sunset Cruise runs from 5 pm to 6:30 pm. The City Lights Tour runs from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
How much: $20 – $35 per person for a river cruise.

Chillout with locals at Sunset Lookout

Prefer to watch the sunset from land? In addition to stunning sunset spots on Mount Archer, there is a local lookout that most tourists don’t know about.

Situated close to the Rockhampton CBD in the suburb of The Range, there is a slightly elevated outlook frequented by locals to catch up with mates while watching the sun dip below the horizon.

Where: 1 Hawkins St, The Range
When: Arrive fifteen minutes before sunset to get comfortable
How much: Free

Places to visit around Rockhampton

See a historic gold mine in Mount Morgan

Another fifteen minutes drive past Bouldercombe, you’ll find the delightful historic township of Mount Morgan. The local pride and join of Mount Morgan is the mine site, which was once the most productive gold mine in Central Queensland. The Frank Golding Lookout is the highest point in town, provided sweeping views of the town while the Arthur Timms Lookout is closer to the mine site.

Mount Morgan
View from Mount Morgan

There are two history museums for Mount Morgan and at the former Railway Station. While we were visiting, locals also recommended a visit to the No. 7 Dam.

Where: 87 Morgan St, Mount Morgan
When: Anytime
How much: Free to visit Mount Morgan. There is an admission cost to visit the Mount Morgan Historical Museum, which you can find on the Mount Morgan website.

Hike Bouldercombe Gorge Reserve

If you’re active and adventurous, then head to Bouldercombe Gorge Resources Reserve approximately thirty minutes drive from the centre of Rockhampton.

A wonderful way to experience the ancient Australian landscape, the reserve trail is approximately 2.7 kilometres long. It requires some sections of walking through dry riverbeds and scrambling over rocks and, after recent rain, you can enjoy natural swimming holes and waterfalls.

Where: Bouldercombe Gorge Resources Reserve, Bouldercombe
When: The best time is to visit after rain to see the waterfalls following. However, be careful not to go when rain is forecast in case of flash flooding.
How much: Free access.

Explore the Capricorn Caves and Mount Etna Caves

The privately owned Capricorn Caves sit just outside the Mount Etna National Park, with a short thirty minute drive from Rockhampton and five minutes between the two. Both offer unique ways to explore the caves, local geology, and surrounding national park.

Bat Cleft Tour Capiricorn Caves 2
Bat Cleft Mount Etna Caves

At the Capricorn Caves, go underground to explore passages and caverns including the famous Cathedral Cave with its special acoustics that has hosted intimate concerts.

Cathedral Caves Rockhampton
Cathedral Caves Credit: Tourism Events Queensland.

Above ground in the national park, you can choose from two hikings trails. Cammoo Circuit -is an easy 600-meter circuit and the Mount Etna trail, which is popular for sunrise, is a moderate 2.4-kilometre return track.

Local tip: From December to mid-February, Queensland National Parks runs a special Bat Cleft Mount Etna Caves National Park Tour. Guided by a ranger, you’ll have the incredible experience of witnessing thousands of tiny bent-wing bats emerge from the cave mouth at dusk.

Where: Capricorn Caves is located at 30 Olsens Caves Rd, The Caves. The hiking trails are located on Cammoo Caves Road and Rossmoya Road.
When: The Mount Etna trail is closed to the public during the bat’s breeding season in the summer, but you can book the Bat Cleft Tour which goes to the same location.
How much: From $33 for the 45-Minute Cathedral Cave Tour and from $61 for the 90-minute Capricorn Caves Tour. The Bat Cleft tour run by Queensland National Parks is from $12.40 for adults. Hiking in the national park is free.

Ride a wagon at Alkoomi Adventure Farm

Take the whole family on a countryside escape to the Alkoomi Adventure Farm, thirty minutes south of Rockhampton. You can choose from day activities such as horse riding, motorbike riding, sunset wagon tour, or free farm animal feeding. For a longer experience, stay in their Ringers Quarters or camp on a non-powered site.

Where: 695 Old Coach Rd., Marmor
When: The free animal feeding at Alkoomi Adventure Farm happens at 4:30 pm in winter and 5:00 pm in summer.
How much: Wagon tour, horse and motorbike riding from $50 per person. See accommodation pricing on the Alkoomi Adventure Farm website.

We hope you enjoy these Rockhampton attractions

Looking for more day trip ideas from Rockhampton? See our top things to do in Yeppoon and surrounding sites, including Great Keppel Island and Byfield National Park.

Got a question? Head over to our Australia Travel Tips Facebook Group and ask a local.