Rockhampton is home to a diverse range of attractions and sights, but equally exciting is how many of them are free to visit!
There aren’t many things in life that you can honestly say are “free”, and we all know how travel expenses can quickly add up. But in Rockhampton you – and your hip pocket – can relax, as there are an impressive range of activities that won’t cost you a thing.
1. Visit the Rockhampton Zoo
Top of the list is Rockhampton Zoo! Every time we visit the area we make a beeline for the zoo. It amazes us that such an impressive range of animals are on offer at a free zoo. Yes, it’s completely free! Animals include all the usual Aussie favourites, alongside more exotic exhibits like a wedge-tailed eagle and colourful macaws. But the crowd favourites are the zoo’s family of cheeky chimpanzees and mob of mischievous meerkats. Look out for the free zoo keeper talks and animal feedings to learn a little more about the animals.
2. Stroll around the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens
Next door to the zoo is the impressive Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, which is the perfect place for a picnic. One of the oldest and most established public gardens in Queensland, the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens sprawl over a 33-hectare site and include the Central Queensland War Memorial (The Cenotaph), tranquil Japanese Gardens, and expansive Murray Lagoon, where you can spot turtles! And if you’re looking for your next selfie opportunity, the iconic 150-year-old Banyan Fig Trees which surround the Gardens Tearooms cafe in the middle of the gardens are the ideal spot.
3. Take an iconic bull statue selfie
Speaking of selfies, being the Beef Capital of Australia it’s pretty much a prerequisite that everyone visiting Rockhampton take a selfie with one of the city’s famous bull statues. You’ll spot them dotted around the city, usually on the median strips of the major roads. However, you can easily and safely walk up to the one at Frank Ford Park, which is only a few minutes’ drive away from the Rockhampton Zoo and Botanic Gardens.
4. Tropic of Capricorn
Just as iconic, is the obligatory selfie at the Tropic of Capricorn, which runs straight through Rockhampton.
You’ll find a marker out the front of the Tropic of Capricorn Spire Visitor Information Centre on Gladstone Road, which is the ideal spot for your next iconic selfie.
5. Enjoy the Heritage Walk through the CBD
Rockhampton’s CBD is one of the most significant historical sites in Australia. In fact, Quay Street, which runs adjacent to the mighty Fitzroy River (Tunuba), has about 30 buildings of historical significance, making it one of the longest stretches of National Trust heritage-listed buildings in Australia. The best way to see them all is by following Explore Rockhampton’s self-guided CBD Heritage Walk. The walk takes you past all the main heritage buildings. But make sure to wander your way back along the riverbank, as it’s dotted with beautiful modern public artworks and one of the best playgrounds we’ve ever seen.
6. Get creative at the Rockhampton Museum of Art
The newest fabulous free offering in town is the impressive Rockhampton Museum of Art. Located on Quay Street, the Museum of Art is the largest gallery in regional Queensland and home to an impressive collection of nationally significant artworks, including works from artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale, John Coburn and Charles Blackman. The museum also offers a regular program of talks and workshops, as well as free creative school holiday activities for the kids.
7. Play time at Kershaw Gardens
Stretching for an impressive 1km along the Bruce Highway, Kershaw Gardens are a beautiful oasis of calm, and even includes an impressive waterfall. But the big winner for families is the central playground which boasts swings, a pedal monorail, flying fox, giant hamster wheel and waterplay area. It’s also home to the impressive 9m-high, five-level Wyatt’s Wonder Webb. Originally designed for New York’s Central Park, it combines climbing ropes, ladders, tunnels, swinging hammocks and three slides for hours of fun.
8. Watch the sunset at Mount Archer
Make sure not to miss Nurim Mount Archer! At 604m above sea level, it is the highest peak overlooking Rockhampton and the views from the top are epic. Take a picnic to enjoy on the grassy amphitheatre, before watching sunset from the impressive 500m long, stroller and wheelchair friendly Nurim Circuit Elevated Boardwalk. And if the kids are still full of energy after the day’s adventures, there’s a fun little playground at the top to keep them entertained.
9. Start the day right, with sunrise at Mount Etna
Still have lots of energy at the end of all that free fun? Then the hike up Mount Etna is arguably one of Rockhampton’s best kept secrets. Located near the Capricorn Caves, about a 30-minute drive north of the Rockhampton CBD, it is one of the best sunrise locations around. A short, steep hike through remnant dry rainforest leads you to the summit, where you’re rewarded with epic views of stunning limestone formations and the surrounding landscape.
Want more ideas? Click here for more unique experiences worth adding to your list!
For more inspiration, visit Explore Rockhampton’s website.
(DISCLOSURES: This article was written in paid partnership with Explore Rockhampton. We were kindly hosted during our visit in April 2022. The opinions included in this article are all our own. We only ever recommend places, services and experiences that we personally love.)
*All information correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication (May 2022).