To snag a cheap flight to Rockhampton, avoid the major holiday seasons – April to June and October to November are good times of year for a bargain. Weather-wise, Rockhampton’s balmy subtropical climate makes it a pleasure to visit all year round. January and February are the warmest months, with average temperatures of over 26°C, but they also experience the heaviest rainfall. June, July and August are the coolest and driest months, with temperatures at a slightly gentler 16-17°C.
Rockhampton, or Rocky as it’s called locally – isn’t just the gateway to the Capricorn Coast, it’s also one of Australia’s oldest towns, something reflected in the elegant Classical Revival architecture of many of its public buildings, such as the post office on East Street, with its colonnades and clock tower. Some of this history is explored in the Rockhampton Heritage Village, which colourfully recreates the lifestyle of 19th century homesteaders and also holds fortnightly markets. Culture buffs should check out the art gallery on Victoria Parade, which displays works by some of Australia’s most renowned painters. If, on the other hand, you want to know more about Australia’s fauna, then head for the Rockhampton Zoo, with its koalas, wallabies and kangaroos. Entry is free, and try to be there for 3pm – feeding time. Bordering the zoo are the city’s splendid botanical gardens, boasting specimens over a century old. If a stroll there whets your appetite for nature, then why not take a hike up Mt Archer, whose lushly forested 604 m peak looks down over the city, and stop for a drink and a snack at the mountain-top cafe?Among other things, Rockhampton is known as the Beef Capital of Australia. To sample the sights and smells of the livestock business first-hand, make a trip to the saleyards of Gracemere, 9 km west of the city, where thousands of cattle and horses go under the gavel each week in daily auctions. Or, if you want to escape the heat and sun, take a tour of the spectacular Capricorn Caves to the north.
The journey from the airport into Rockhampton should take 15 minutes maximum by taxi. To avoid delays, avail yourself of the free taxi phone inside the terminal next to the public restrooms and book a cab as soon as you arrive. If you’d rather drive yourself, the offices of several car rental firms can be found within the terminal.
Although Rockhampton is bustling and urban, traffic is rarely a problem and driving around the city is generally a relaxed, enjoyable experience. If venturing down rural backroads, however, be wary of big, lumbering trucks and wandering farm animals. The town centre’s key attractions can easily be taken in on foot and by bike. If you want to go further afield, there are regular bus services to the pleasure spots of the Capricorn Coast, including the seaside towns of Yeppoon and Emu Park.