ROCKHAMPTON is the major centre of the Capricornia region which extends from the Capricorn Coast west to the Central Highlands at Emerald, north to Mackay and south to Gladstone taking in the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the spectacular Great Keppel Island and inland natural wonders like Carnarvon Gorge. And the one food experience not be missed aside from the seafood is of course – the beef.
Keppel Bay Marina. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Waterline Restaurant at Keppel Bay Marina, outside Yeppoon, takes the win. Family-owned and renowned for Banana Beef from their own cattle property, it’s the only place to sample their prize-winning steaks. It’s got great views, service and locally-sourced fresh produce.
The stunning Great Keppel Island.
Great Keppel Island is the hero destination of the region. Stay in beachfront cabins or eco-tents and wake up to spectacular views. Two ferry operators run a 30-minute service between the island and Yeppoon. The calm waters surrounding Great Keppel Island make it perfect for all types of water sports such as snorkelling, stand-up paddleboarding and water-skiing. There are also day tours and sailing trips on the crystal clear waters of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton holds live rodeo entertainment as well as claims of the best Steakhouse in Queensland. Picture: Lachie Millard
The Great Western Hotel on the outskirts of Rockhampton is home to the largest indoor rodeo arena in the Southern Hemisphere. Every Wednesday and Friday, they put on a rodeo show. It’s a thrilling feeling to have a ringside beer and steak and watch bull riders battle colossal beasts.
Water meanders through the Carnarvon Gorge National Park. The spectacular sandstone feature was created by water erosion over millions of years. Picture: Bruce Long
BEST NATURAL ATTRACTION
Carnarvon Gorge National Park is like something out of a David Attenborough documentary. It is a natural wonderland, with more than 30km of dramatic sandstone cliffs, lush gorges, creeks and waterfalls. It is also the site of some of Australia’s finest aboriginal rock art.
Judging the Brahman cattle section at Beef Week, Rockhampton. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
No Bull. Australia’s national beef expo is one of the world’s great beef cattle events. It is a celebration of all facets of Australia’s beef industry. This year’s event, held at the start of May, featured more than 4500 cattle from over 30 breeds; international trade talks; 500 businesses at a trade fair, and celebrity chefs in a culinary extravaganza of meat. The Paradise Lagoons Campdraft (July 19-22) and Gemfest Festival (August 9-12) should also be on your to-do list.
BEST PLACE TO STAY
Pumpkin Island, famously known as XXXX island for three years, is an exclusive island eco-retreat with seven cabins. Owned and operated by Wayne and Laureth Rumble, it is your own private piece of paradise on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. You can snorkel fascinating coral reefs off the beach, cook fresh-caught fish, and pretend you’re the Swiss Family Robinson.
BEST TOURIST WALK/DRIVE
–– ADVERTISEMENT ––Dig the Tropic is a self-drive geo-trail that follows the Capricorn Highway from the coast into the Outback. Explore the limestone Capricorn Caves and dodge the micro-bats on a caving adventure. Fossick for thunder eggs at Mt Hay Gemstone Park or visit the historic gold mining town of Mount Morgan. Take Australia’s largest Underground Walk-In Sapphire Mine Tour at Miners Heritage or fossick for sapphires at the Sapphire Gemfields.
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