Rockhampton, Queensland

Rockhampton, Queensland

Rockhampton is a regional city and Local Government Area located in Queensland, Australia. Rockhampton is the largest urban centre in Central Queensland with the 2006 census recording the Rockhampton Statistical Subdivision population to be 68,835 people. Rockhampton is seen as the unofficial capital of Central Queensland as it hosts a significant number of governmental, community and major business administrative offices for the central part of the state.

Rockhampton enjoys over 300 days of sunshine each year, which lends itself to tourism activities all year round and an abundance of outdoor activities. Popular attractions include Riverbank Parklands, a riverfront parkland attraction located on the banks of Fitzroy River; the Capricorn Coast, the coastal strip between Yeppoon and Emu Park and Great Keppel Island, a large neighbouring island off the Capricorn Coast, the vast majority of which is national park.


The Rockhampton district is the traditional home of the Darumbal Aboriginal people.

The European history of the area began in 1853, when the area that would become Rockhampton was visited by the brothers Charles and William Archer, who were seeking grazing lands. They were acting on information from earlier expeditions by Ludwig Leichhardt and Thomas Mitchell, who had explored the area in 1844 and 1846 and noted suitable land for grazing then.

In January 1854, the New South Wales Government proclaimed two new districts: Port Curtis and Leichhardt (roughly today's Fitzroy Region), and settlement began in earnest in 1855.

The Fitzroy River provided a convenient waterway for shipping of supplies for those who followed them, and a settlement grew on the riverbanks just downstream of a bar of rocks which prevented further upstream navigation from the coast. These rocks were incorporated with the traditional English term for a village, and the name "Rockhampton" was born around 1856, though was not proclaimed officially until 25 October 1858.

In the 1880s and 1890s, sea ports were established on the coast, adjacent to the mouth of the Fitzroy River. Broadmount was on the northern side and Port Alma on the south. Railways were subsequently constructed to carry goods to the wharves at these locations, the railway to Broadmount opening on 1 January, 1898 and the line to Port Alma opened on 16 October, 1911. Maintenance on the Broadmount line ceased in August, 1929. The following month, the wharf caught fire and the line was effectively closed in July, 1930. The line to Port Alma closed on 15 October, 1986.

Like many other Australian cities, Rockhampton's fortunes were assured with the discovery of gold, in this case at Canoona to the north. Later, the significant gold deposit at Mount Morgan to the southwest was discovered, and Rockhampton became a service town for the local area. The early tents and shanties were slowly replaced by more substantial buildings. The historic streetscape of Quay Street still displays a number of substantial historic buildings, built when Rockhampton was envisaged as being capital of a state of North Queensland. Most prominent of these is the sandstone Customs House (1900), which today houses an information centre. Other important nineteenth century buildings include the Post Office (1892), the Supreme Court House (1888), and St Joseph's Cathedral (1892).

The City of Rockhampton was proclaimed in 1902.

A passenger tramway began operating in the city on 16 June 1909, making Rockhampton the only provincial in Queensland to have a street tramway.

Purrey steam trams ran on a number of routes throughout South Rockhampton, totalling 10 kilometres of track. The discomfort of passengers riding in steam trams in a tropical climate in part led to their demise in 1939, replaced by a bus network run by the City Council.

During the Second World War, a US army base was established outside the city; it hosted up to 70,000 servicemen en route to action in the Pacific Ocean and New Guinea.

The Fitzroy River Barrage was commissioned in 1971. The barrage has a capacity of 81,300 megalitres and holds back a lake 60 kilometres long. The barrage was funded by the City Council to provide a reliable source of water to the city, and to effectively drought proof Rockhampton.

In 2003, Rockhampton was the centre of significant national media interest after local teenager Cheney Ryan was found in her boyfriend, Scott Black's North Rockhampton home after being missing for five years. Cheney Ryan had been presumed to be murdered.


Rockhampton is governed by the Rockhampton Regional Council. The Council consists of a mayor and ten councillors. The Mayor is elected by the public, and the Councillors are elected from ten single-member divisions (or wards) using an optional preferential voting system. Elections are held every four years.

The Rockhampton Regional Council local government area consists of four former local government areas. The first was the original City of Rockhampton, consisting of the Rockhampton City region as listed above. The second, was the Shire of Livingstone (comprising of the Capricorn Coast and Byfield). The third area was the Shire of Fitzroy, (comprising of the Gracemere and smaller surrounding towns), and the fourth areas was the Shire of Mount Morgan, (comprising of the town of Mount Morgan.)

Before the time of the 2008 amalgamation, Rockhampton City had a population of approximately 74,530, Livingstone Shire had a population of approximately 28,266, Fitzroy Shire had a population of approximately 11,357, and Mount Morgan Shire had approximately 2,925.


Rockhampton lies just north of the Tropic of Capricorn in Central Queensland. A sculpture originally marking the latitude was later moved into town to be more accessible to tourists. Although the Tropic of Capricorn is represented on maps as a "dotted line" that lies at 23° 26' 22", there is actually a bio-geographical overlap of Tropical and Temperate zones more than 500km wide; Rockhampton is roughly at its centre on the East Coast of Australia.

The city is located on the banks of the Fitzroy River, approximately 40 kilometres from the river mouth. The Berserker Range lies on the eastern side of the city, with the Athelstane Range to the west. The coastal area to the east of the city is known as the Capricorn Coast, with the rapidly growing town of Yeppoon its major centre.


Rockhampton is made up of a number of suburbs or neighbourhoods, including:


Known as the Beef Capital of Australia , few people realise just how much this city and its immediate surrounds have to offer. It is hard to go past the fact that beef is a big part of Rockhampton's economy and existence. There are reminders to be found on the Bruce Highway at the city's exit and entrance and within the city where there are statues of Santa Gertrudis, Brahman, Braford and Droughtmaster bulls.

Grazing is still a dominant industry in Central Queensland. Two large abattoirs are located in the Rockhampton area. Due to a long term drought and general economic conditions, one of these facilities has experienced a number of closures over the years and was closed from 2002 until 2004, but has now reopened. The Gracemere Saleyards, one of the largest livestock sales facilities in the country, lies just to the west of the city.

Queensland Rail has a large workforce in the city, which is the meeting point for the main north coast rail line and the line to the major coalfields to the west. Enormous coal trains regularly pass from the west to the coal port of Gladstone to the south. The coal fired 1440 megawatt Stanwell Power Station lies 30 kilometers west.

The proximity of Rockhampton's airport, the base of operations for several major trucking companies and the largest port on the Australian East Coast features heavily in infrastructure projects and planning for the city and Capricorn Coast Region.

Tourism is increasingly playing a role in the development of city and surrounds. The city is a convenient distance north from Brisbane to provide an overnight stop for tourists, who can then branch out to visit local attractions. The Capricorn Coast is a 30 minute drive from Rockhampton, with the islands of the Keppel group easily accessible from there.

To the north of the city lies the extensive Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, where large scale ground, air and amphibious operations can be conducted. A detachment office of the Singapore Armed Forces has been based in Rockhampton since 1995.

Culture, Events and Festivals

The Rockhampton region has many renowned festivals, celebrating some of the various international cultures that call the region home. The annual Multicultural Festival and CQU Open Day held at the CQUniversity, showcases hundreds of market stalls and dislays, international foods, music and cultures are popular with the locals and tourists alike.

The Annual Big River Jazz is a three day program showcasing a variety of jazz bands from the 12-14 September.

The city also has a vibrant pub and night-club scene, many of them located in Denham Street. Local and national music groups can often be found performing live in these venues. The East and Denham Streets streetscape was renewed in 2002 and now caters for sidewalk dining at many new cafes located in the street.

The Pilbeam Theatre, seating 1200 people, and is host to many national and international music shows, as well as sporting and trade shows. Since its opening in 1978, the Theatre has been a centre of entertainment and performing arts, providing an environment to further develop the performing arts in Rockhampton and the region.


Rockhampton's climate may be classified as Subtropical. The city is situated on the Tropic of Capricorn and lies within the southeast trade wind belt, too far south to experience regular north west monsoonal influence, and too far north to gain much benefit from higher latitude cold fronts.

Typical daytime temperature ranges are 32 max 22 min in the summer /wet season and 23 max 9 min in the winter/dry season.

Rockhampton lies within the cyclone risk zone and the area is subject to summer thunderstorms. There is a high incidence of winter and early spring fogs. Maximum temperatures in the low to mid 40's have been recorded in October to March.

The Fitzroy River at Rockhampton has a long and well documented history of flooding with flood records dating back to 1859. The highest recorded flood occurred in January 1918 and reached 10.11 metres on the Rockhampton gauge. The two most recent major floods occurred in January and March 2008.

The highest recorded official temperature in Rockhampton was 45.3 degrees Celsius.

Climate Table
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum temperature (°C) 31.9 31.3 30.5 28.8 26.0 23.4 23.1 24.7 27.3 29.6 31.2 32.1 28.3
Mean daily minimum temperature (°C) 22.1 22.1 20.8 17.9 14.2 10.9 9.5 10.6 13.5 17.0 19.5 21.2 16.6
Mean total rainfall (mm) 128.4 142.2 96.5 44.4 48.2 39.4 28.7 28.0 23.0 50.3 68.9 102.0 799.6
Mean number of rain days 8.6 9.1 7.1 4.3 4.0 3.4 3.1 2.7 2.7 4.6 5.6 7.3 62.4
Source: Bureau of Meteorology


The Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, also owned by the Rockhampton Regional Council, situated next to the Pilbeam Theatre consists mainly of works by Australian artists from the 1940s to the 1970s. Plans have been released to redevelop the downtown art gallery into a shopping haven with a new fully glass-walled 2-storey art gallery, a new 16-storey hotel and a 16-storey apartment/office block right behind it. The Pilbeam Theatre will not be affected by the construction.

Established in 1869, the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens are located on Spencer Street in South Rockhampton. Excellent specimens of palms, cycads and ferns are found throughout the manicured grounds. Some specimens are over 100 years old.

Rockhampton Zoo is located between the Botanic Gardens and Murray Lagoon. Animals and birds include Koalas, Chimpanzees, Saltwater Crocodiles, Freshwater Crocodiles, Red Kangaroos and the rare Cassowary.

A second public garden, the Kershaw Gardens, was officially opened in 1988 on the site of the former Rockhampton rubbish dump. Located on the Bruce Highway in North Rockhampton, these gardens specialize in Australian native plants, especially those of Central Queensland. Their most striking feature is the imitation waterfall constructed on the northern boundary of the site adjacent to the highway, which aims to recreate a scene from the Blackdown Tableland. The Dreamtime Cultural Centre is Australia's largest Cultural Centre set on more than 12 hectares of land, with native plants, trees and waterfalls. The major points of interest at the Dreamtime Cultural Centre include the Torres Strait Islander village, Didgeridoo playing, Djarn Djarn dancers, and throwing the returning boomerang.

The Archer Park Steam Tram Museum covers the development and history of rail-based transportation in the major central Queensland town of Rockhampton and is set in the 100 year-old Archer Park rail station on Denison Street on the city's southside. The museum tells the story of Archer Park Station (built in 1899) and the unique Purrey Steam Tram, through photographs, soundscapes and object-based exhibitions.

The tram is believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, and is a wonderful relic of Rockhampton's tram history dating back to 1909.

Rising out of Rockhampton's north-eastern suburbs, Mt Archer National Park provides views of the city, and showcases a range of native Australian flora and fauna. Frazer Park, at the summit of Mt Archer, is approximately 604 metres above sea level.

The Rockhampton Heritage Village is an active township museum, where visitors can experience Rockhampton's rich and colourful history which features Time After Time clock collection, History of the Rockhampton District, Life before electricity, Hospital exhibition and a Vintage car collection.


The Rockhampton Base Hospital is situated in the suburb of The Range, and is located around 4km from Rockhampton City, and is the major hospital for the Central Queensland Region. The smaller Hillcrest Private Hospital and Mater Private Hospital are located nearby. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is located across from the Base Hospital on Canning Street.

Rockhampton is a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Rescue Helicopter which operates clinics and provides emergency evacuations in remote communities throughout the region.


Rockhampton is home to 8 major shopping centre, all of which include national major tenants and retail outlets:

  • Allenstown Plaza
  • City Centre Plaza
  • East Street Mall
  • Farm Street Marketplace
  • Kmart Plaza (currently under redevelopment to integrate with Stockland Rockhampton)
  • Northside Plaza
  • Red Hill Homemaker Centre
  • Stockland Rockhampton


Rockhampton is a major education centre for the region and has numerous state and private primary and high schools.



Rockhampton is an important transport hub in the Central Queensland region. Rockhampton provides important transport links between the Central Highlands and Capricorn Coast regions and the areas to the north and south of the state. Rockhampton Airport is essential to the viability of the tourism industry.

The Rockhampton region is well serviced by the National and State highway system, with the city being located at the main junction of the coastal highway, the Bruce Highway, the central western highway, the Capricorn Highway, and the Rockhampton Hinterland is serviced by the Burnett Highway. Drive time is seven and a half hours from Brisbane to Rockhampton, Central Queensland's Tourism Hub.

Rockhampton is also served by long distance coaches to Brisbane in the south, and as far as Cairns in the North. Daily services operate into Rockhampton with Greyhound Pioneer Australia. The Hinterland and Central Highlands are also serviced daily by Rothery's Coaches, Pacific Coaches and Emerald Coaches.

An extensive bus services are operated by Capricorn Sunbus, which operates under the QConnect public transport system. A bus interchange is located in Rockhampton City through with nearly all services operate. Service include most parts of the city, Parkhurst in the north to Allenstown and Depot Hill in the south and to The Range and Lakes Creek in the west

Rockhampton has one major taxi company, Rocky Cabs who service the City of Rockhampton, Gracemere, and also some services in Yeppoon and Emu Park.

Rockhampton is the terminus of the electrified rail link between Brisbane and Rockhampton. An express tilt train service travels from Brisbane to Rockhampton six days per week. Rockhampton is also one stop on the Brisbane to Cairns line.

Rockhampton Airport is operated by Rockhampton Regional Council and is located 6km (3.7 mi) west of Rockhampton City. It is Australia's twelfth busiest domestic airport. The airport handles flights to major Australian cities, tourist destinations, and regional destinations throughout Central Queensland. It is an important base for general aviation serving the Central Highlands and Capricorn Coast commununities. The Airport is also a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Rescue Helicopter.



The catchment area of the Fitzroy River is approximately 145,000 square kilometres (almost the size of England). It contains six major rivers, and Rockhampton and Central Queensland accordingly enjoy abundant good water. The existing and future dams under construction ensure on-going needs for agriculture, industry and domestic purposes are met. The Fitzroy River Barrage at Rockhampton separates tidal salt water from upstream fresh water, and provides the supply for Rockhampton's domestic and industrial needs.


Central Queensland's major generating facilities, including the Stanwell, Gladstone and Callide power stations, produce the majority of the State's power. Queensland's newest and most technologically advanced powerhouse at Stanwell, 28km west of the city, came on line in 1993. The Stanwell facility is a key element in the State's program to expand electricity supply and is a major exporter of power station technology.


Rockhampton has a number of newspapers.

  • The Morning Bulletin
  • CQ Extra
  • Rockhampton and Fitzroy News
  • Under the Capricorn Sun
  • Central Queensland News


Callsign Frequency Owner
4RO 990 kHz AM Prime Television
4CC 1584 kHz AM Prime Television
Sea FM 101.5 MHz FM Macquarie Regional RadioWorks
Hot FM 107.9 MHz FM Macquarie Regional RadioWorks
Triple J 104.7 MHz FM ABC
Radio National 103.1 MHz FM ABC
ABC NewsRadio 105.5 MHz FM ABC
ABC Classic FM 106.3 MHz FM ABC
ABC Capricornia 837 kHz AM ABC
4YOU 98.5 MHz FM Community
4US 100.7 MHz FM Community
Kix Country 92.7 MHz FM Country (?)
4TAB 99.9 MHz FM UNiTAB Limited
Vision FM 87.6 MHz FM UCB Australia


Rockhampton is serviced by four commercial stations and one non-commercial station.

News for Rockhampton is screened every weeknight at 6:00pm on WIN Television, broadcast live from the RTQ studios in North Rockhampton. On weekends, news is relayed from the Nine Network, Brisbane.

Seven Queensland and Southern Cross Ten have a physical presence in Rockhampton, but local news programs do not exist on these channels. Instead, they carry news bulletins from Brisbane's Seven Network and Network Ten.

Sports teams

Notable residents or persons born in Rockhampton

Name of resident Year of Birth/Death Notable For
Leanne Benjamin 1964 Ballet Dancer - Principal dancer with the Royal Ballet in London.
JTS Bird Born in England Author of 'The Early History of Rockhampton'
Gerard Brennan 1928 Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
George Curtis 1845–1922 Queensland and Australian politician
William Knox Darcy 1849–1917 Mining magnate and founder of British Petroleum
Jamie Dwyer 1979 Field hockey- gold medal in 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens
Frank Forde 1890–1983 Prime Minister of Australia
Vince Gair 1901–1980 Premier of Queensland
Paul Hoffmann 1970 Sportsman (Cricket) - Australia Country representative 1993 and Scottish Saltires Cricket World Cup 2007
De-Anne Kelly 1954 Politician
William Kidston 1849–1919 Premier of Queensland
Mark Knowles 1984 Sportsman, Field hockey
Rod Laver 1938 Sportsman, Tennis
Grant McLennan 1958–2006 singer-songwriter and co-founder of independent Australian band, The Go-Betweens
Anna Meares 1983 Cyclist - 2 times Olympic gold medal winner
Kerrie Meares 1982 Cyclist
Scott Minto 1973 Sportsman, Rugby League - Brisbane Broncos
John Moore 1936 Politician
Matthew Robinson 1980 Actor/Performer - Starred in Pippin, appearances in Blue Heelers, Stingers, Pratt Prize winner
Anthelme Thozet 1826–1878 botanist and ethnographer
Kenrick Tucker 1957 cyclist, 1978 Commonwealth Games Gold and Silver Medallist
Rhys Wesser 1979 Sportsman, (Rugby League - Penrith Panthers)

Sister City


  • McDonald L. (1981) Rockhampton: A History of City and District. University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld. ISBN 0-7022-1620-8
  • Bird JTS. (1904) The Early History of Rockhampton. The Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Qld.
  • Rockhampton Suburbs map. City of Rockhampton. Retrieved on 2008-02-29..

External links

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