I’m embarrassed to admit that I knew very little about Rockhampton before I arrived in this inland city in central Queensland. I had a vague notion that it was an important cattle district, but as I left the airport the city’s status as Beef Capital of Australia was confirmed by a statue of a Droughtmaster bull. This is one of six bull statues throughout the city.
A wander through the main business district was a rewarding experience. There are many beautiful heritage buildings along the street and river front. I was particularly taken with the former Rockhampton Post Office building located in East Street. It reflects the importance of Rockhampton as a communication hub between central and northern Queensland. It also symbolised the confident future of the city:
The Rockhampton Post Office, erected in 1892, is important because it reflects the rise of Rockhampton as the major commercial centre of central Queensland during the late nineteenth century. In the 1880s, Rockhampton benefited economically from the mining of gold at Mount Morgan. The immense wealth generated from the gold mines created a period of buoyancy in Rockhampton which produced many prestigious buildings of which the Rockhampton Post Office is an outstanding example.
Source: Queensland Heritage Register
One of the many delights of the area is the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. Set amongst 70 hectares, the gardens are now 150 years old. Unfortunately my time here was limited but I did have an entertaining encounter with a squabble of rainbow lorikeets who were very curious about what I was eating and drinking. They were very funny to watch and not at all shy.
In the centre of town is the Archer Park Rail Museum. It offers train rides at different times throughout the year, and the grand old station echoes the prosperity of the post office and many other buildings in the city.
A walk along the Fitzroy River offers a chance to experience a city rejuvenating itself and celebrating history and heritage. The area is lit up at night and is popular with people keen to exercise or simply take in the view.
Although my time in Rockhampton was brief, there is much of interest to see and do, and I hope to return again one day.
[Photo: streetscape in Rockhampton, Qld]