If the wide-brimmed hats, cowboy boots and V8 utes don’t tip you off, the large bull statues around town let you know you’re in the ‘beef capital’ of Australia. With over 2.5 million cattle within a 250km radius of Rockhampton, it’s no surprise the smell of bulldust hangs thick in the air. This sprawling country town is the administrative and commercial centre of central Queensland, its wide streets and fine Victorian-era buildings reflecting the region’s prosperous 19th-century heyday of gold and copper mining and the beef-cattle industry.
Straddling the tropic of Capricorn, ‘Rocky’ marks the start of the tropics; lying 40km inland and lacking coastal sea breezes, summers here can be unbearably hot and humid. Rocky has a smattering of attractions but is best seen as the gateway to the coastal gems of Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island. Stay in the old part of town to enjoy some charming walks along the Fitzroy.