With an outstanding regional art collection displayed in the new Rockhampton Museum of Art, it’s time to revisit and explore the many things to do in Rocky including fabulous Fitzroy River fishing. It’s worth adding in some extra days to your trip for exploring the city and then retiring to the relaxing coastline or heading inland.
Surprising things to do in Rockhampton
You’ll be surprised by how much this Central Queensland town has changed. Walking through the streets you might even think you are in the big smoke, but the city’s unique country charm is not far away. Here are six ways to rediscover the latest and greatest in Rocky.
Rockhampton Museum of Art
Opened in February 2022, the Rockhampton Museum of Art takes the crown as regional Queensland’s largest art space with six exhibition spaces. It is located on Quay Street, opposite the Fitzroy River it includes paintings by many of the greats of Australian art – Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan, Judy Cassab, Charles Blackman, Lloyd Rees, Kenneth Macqueen, Russell Drysdale and John Coburn. The collection is valued at $14 million and includes a representative collection of mid-20th century Australian art.
The Museum includes a cafe which opens every day from 7.30 am to 3 pm.
More on Rockhampton Museum of Art (RMOA)
Look what I caught! A 96cm threadfin while enjoying Fitzroy River fishing.
Fitzroy River fishing
You probably know Rockhampton as Australia’s beef capital, and it still is, but their side hustle has grown fins and taken off. In 2015 nets were removed from the Fitzroy River creating barramundi heaven judging from the increasing numbers of trophy barra sized over one metre being pulled from the river during the season.
Nathan Johnston of Guided Fishing Down Under in the Fitzroy River. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Out of season even the most inexperienced angler like me can, and did, catch decent-sized and very edible threadfin salmon when Fitzroy River fishing. Mine was 96 cm so with a little more tuition from Nathan Johnston of Guided Fishing Down Under. Nathan’s goal is to connect anglers with Barramundi, King Threadfin and Saratoga while enjoying the Fitzroy River Delta environment.
I will be heading back for another Fitzroy River fishing session to join the much prized by anglers One Metre Club.
Reeling in the fish starts to get very exciting!
Fitzroy River fishing nearly mastered with a 96cm catch! Photo: Kerry Heaney
The Fitzroy River boat ramp croc warning is a real reminder to look out for these creatures. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Fitzroy River Sunset Tour
Sunset on the Fitzroy River paints the sky and river pink and orange as River Cruises CQ skipper Craig Robertson takes passengers on his boat to show off Rockhampton from the river. As I sip on champagne and dine from a finger food platter, Craig motors downriver past the lights on Quay Street. Rockhampton’s historic heart dates from the 1850s and recently received a $36 million facelift.
Along with the eight crocodiles who reside here, you might also spot dolphins relaxing in the river. The best time for croc spotting is low tide in winter when the reptiles are gathering warmth from the sun-drenched riverbanks. Their croc mudslides on the riverbanks can be seen at any time and are a reminder that you will find these fearsome creatures further south than you think.
Hop on the sightseeing boat for a sunset river and croc spotting cruise.
Koorana Crocodile Farm is located in Coowonga, between Rockhampton and Yeppoon. There are daily tours where you can see crocodiles being fed and learn about their life cycle. When I visited the farm I was amazed at the interaction between the handlers and the crocodiles.
More about Koorana Crocodile Farm.
Rockhampton eats – high tea at Riverston Tea Rooms.
Historic High Tea
Set in a former Queensland National Bank building, Riverston Tea Rooms on Quay Street is a food and antique lover’s dream. Established in 2018 by Jim and Maria Ellrott, it is a café lined with cabinets full of desirable collectables and a jewellery display that has caught the eye of many a visitor. Head here to try Rocky’s old-time favourites and stay for a Sunday high tea.
Jim Ellrott at Riverston Tea Rooms with a collection of antique rings. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Headricks Lane is another heritage-listed building that has been renovated to become a must-visit coffee shop, along with a microbrewery and restaurant. It all hides behind a minimalist exterior in the heart of town.
When it comes to pastries and pies, locals will tell you that the range at Artizan Gluten Free Bakery is second to none. It is a double bonus for gluten-free followers.
Artizan Gluten Free Bakery makes the most delicious treats. Photo Kerry Heaney
Drink your Capricorn Spiced rum like a local. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Another place for your things to do in Rockhampton list is a visit to Saleyards Distillery where you’ll find the world’s best-spiced rum, Capricorn Spiced. This is a delicious drop and I loved it muddled with lime and topped with Bundaberg ginger beer like a local.
When you really want to get off the grid, Pumpkin Island is the perfect getaway. It is located offshore from Rockhampton’s coastal getaway Yeppoon and is a perfect location for group getaways or a couples retreat with a range of accommodation options. This is a small island and you can have it all to yourself.
More on Pumpkin Island.
View from the Mount Archer platform walk. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Mount Archer viewing platform
At 604 metres above sea level, Rockhampton’s Mount Archer offers spectacular views over the city. Fitzroy River and surrounds. The 500-metre Nurim Circuit Elevated Boardwalk is a relatively new addition to the pea. It extends out 25 metres off the side of Mount Archer around 7.5 metres off the ground with viewing points and seating platforms so you can stop and enjoy the vista.
Interpretive Indigenous signage from the local Darumbul culture adds another level of understanding to the walk. Enjoy this walk at any time but sunrise and sunsets are particularly popular with locals.
The elevated Mount Archer walking platform offers panoramic views. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Fitzroy River view from the bedroom at Empire Apartment Hotel. Photo: Kerry Heaney
The Empire Apartment Hotel in Rockhampton’s CBD riverfront precinct is offers excellent Rockhampton accommodation. The rooms are spacious and there is a long balcony off the apartment where you can watch all the river action including breathtaking sunrise and sunset.
I stayed in a two-bedroom river view apartment which included a large kitchen and offered both indoor and outdoor dining. Room rates start at $204 per night for a King Studio Room, ranging up to $314 a night for the two-bedroom river view apartment. (Prices March 2022).
Disclaimer: Eat drink and be Kerry travelled in the region as a guest of Capricorn Enterprise.
The spacious living area at Empire Apartment Hotel. Photo: Kerry Heaney