Welcome to Rockhampton (‘Rocky’ to its mates), where the hats, boots and utes are big, and the bulls are even bigger. With over 2.5 million cattle within a 250km radius, this riverside city, founded in 1858 on land owned by the Darumbal people, calls itself Australia’s Beef Capital with some justification. Despite rustic touches such as cane trains running down the centre of wide streets, it's the administrative and commercial centre of Central Queensland, with fine Victorian buildings reflecting the region's 19th-century mining and beef-rearing heyday.
Straddling the tropic of Capricorn 40km inland, far from coastal breezes, Rocky can be scorching hot and unbearably humid in summer. It has a smattering of attractions, including a fine regional gallery, but appeals most to travellers as a gateway to the coastal gems of Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island, and the Byfield National Park to the north.