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Rockhampton facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Historic Quay street
Rockhampton Supreme Court
Fitzroy Bridge in fog
Customs House
City Hall
New CBD under development
(From left to right)
Criterion Hotel with view down historic Quay street
Rockhampton Supreme Court, Fitzroy Bridge in fog
Customs House, City Hall,
New CBD under development
Rockhampton is located in Queensland
Location in Queensland
Population 78,592 (2018) (22nd)
 • Density 135.5/km2 (351/sq mi)
Established 1858
Postcode(s) 4700, 4701, 4702
Elevation 11.3 m (37 ft)
Area 580 km2 (223.9 sq mi)(2011 urban)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10)
LGA(s) Rockhampton Region
Region Central Queensland
State electorate(s)
  • Rockhampton
  • Keppel
Federal Division(s) Capricornia
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
28.3 °C
83 °F
16.6 °C
62 °F
795.0 mm
31.3 in

Rockhampton is a city in the Rockhampton Region of Central Queensland, Australia. The population of Rockhampton in June 2018 was 78,592, making it the fourth-largest city in the state outside of the cities of South East Queensland, and the 22nd-largest city in Australia. Today, Rockhampton is an industrial and agricultural centre of the north, and is the regional centre of Central Queensland.

Rockhampton is one of the oldest cities in Queensland and in Northern Australia. In 1853, Charles and William Archer came across the Toonooba river, which is now also known as the Fitzroy River, which they claimed in honour of Sir Charles FitzRoy. The Archer brothers took up a run near Gracemere in 1855, and more settlers arrived soon after, enticed by the fertile valleys. The town of Rockhampton was proclaimed in 1858, and surveyed by William Henry Standish, Arthur F Wood and Francis Clarke, the chosen street design closely resembled the Hoddle Grid in Melbourne and consisted of a grid of wide boulevards and laneways, which was uncommon in Queensland. Within the year, gold was found at Canoona, and led to the first North Australian gold rush. This led to an influx of migrants who quickly transformed Rockhampton into the second-largest port in the state; during this period, Rockhampton was nicknamed as the "City of the Three S's", of which were "Sin, Sweat, and Sorrow". Subsequent gold rushes at Mount Morgan Mine, which was at the time one of the most productive gold mines in the world, laid the foundations for much of the city's Victorian architecture.

The city is noted for its Queenslander architecture, especially in the areas of Allenstown and the Range. Rockhampton is also a large tourist destination known for its history and culture supporting such institutions as the Rockhampton Art Gallery, one of the most extensive regional galleries in Australia, the Central Queensland University with campuses across five states, the Rockhampton Heritage Village, and Dreamtime Cultural Centre. It is also famous as the hometown of Rod Laver – one of the best tennis players in history. The city is served by the Rockhampton Airport and acts as a gateway to local tourist locations such as the Capricorn Caves and Mount Archer National Park, as well as regional tourist areas including the historic town of Mount Morgan, Yeppoon and the Capricorn Coast, alongside the island chains offshore that include Great Keppel Island.


The town lies on the Fitzroy River, approximately 45 kilometres (28 mi) from the river mouth, and some 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of the state capital, Brisbane. Rockhampton has a north and south side with three bridges connecting both sides, one for trains and two for vehicles and people.

Tropic of Capricorn monuments in Rockhampton. (Photo taken in 1970)

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 500 kilometres (310 mi) 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 (25 mi) 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.


The Capricorn 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 Archer brothers Charles and William, 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 first used.

In 1856, the Elliott brothers arrived at Gracemere and soon after, took up landholdings at Canoona, north of present-day Yaamba. There, Philip Elliott and his party came under attack from the Darumbals, possibly of the Taroomball tribe. Elliott was seriously wounded by a spear and one of his men was killed. However, Elliott had brought with his party a contingent of native police who turned near-certain loss into victory. It was the first of many battles.

Gold diggers Queensland
Overpainted albumen print of Aborigines and gold diggers near Rockhampton, c. 1860s, National Library of Australia

With abundant grazing lands and waters from the Fitzroy River and its many tributaries and lagoons, the region continued to expand rapidly. In 1858, the town of Rockhampton was officially proclaimed. The town was surveyed at this time and the first sales of building allotments were held that year. In 1859, gold was discovered at Canoona. Miners rushed to the new field, using the site of Rockhampton on the Fitzroy River as the nearest navigable port. The Canoona field proved to be very disappointing and thousands of would-be gold seekers were left stranded at Rockhampton. Although many returned south, others stayed, adding to the infant town's population.

By 1861, the town boasted a regular newspaper, banks, court house and School of Arts. Direct shipments of imported goods and migrants from the United Kingdom began to be received during the 1860s. During the 1860s and 1870s Rockhampton developed as the main port for the developing Central Queensland hinterland; the main export at that time being wool.

StateLibQld 1 237283 East Street in Rockhampton, ca. 1887
East Street, c. 1887

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.

StateLibQld 2 237154 Rockhampton Post Office, ca. 1895
Rockhampton Post Office, circa 1895

The significant gold deposit at Mount Morgan to the southwest was discovered in the 1880s, and Rockhampton became the main port through which the wealth of Mount Morgan gold was channelled. Due to the wealth of Mount Morgan, Rockhampton weathered the severe economic depression of the 1890s and many of the town's substantial brick and stone public buildings date from this period. 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. The rail connection south to Brisbane was completed in 1903, but it was not until 1921 that the northern connection to Mackay was finally completed. A railway west from Rockhampton was started in 1867 and by 1892 had reached the terminus at Longreach, 700 kilometres (430 mi) away. This further strengthened Rockhampton's role as the port for the whole of Central Queensland.

Quay Street-1912
Quay Street, Rockhampton in 1912, taken from the Riverbank. The old Fitzroy River Bridge can be seen in the background.

A passenger tramway began operating on 16 June 1909, making Rockhampton the only provincial city in Queensland to have a street tramway. Purrey steam trams ran on a number of routes throughout South Rockhampton, totalling 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) 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 and New Guinea.

On 2 March 1949, Rockhampton was severely damaged by a cyclone.

The Fitzroy River Barrage was commissioned in 1971. The barrage has a capacity of 81,300 megalitres and holds back a lake 60 kilometres (37 mi) 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.

On 20 February 2015, Rockhampton was severely damaged by Cyclone Marcia damaging hundreds of homes and businesses with wind speeds over 150 km/h recorded in Rockhampton. Major flooding was experienced in the upper reaches of the Fitzroy River after more than 250mm were recorded. The cyclone left about 100,000 properties across Central Queensland without power.

Heritage listings

Rockhampton has a number of heritage-listed sites. For details see the List of heritage listed buildings in Rockhampton.


Year Population
1933 29,369
1947 34,988
1954 40,670
1961 44,128
1966 46,083
1971 49,164
1976 51,133
1981 52,383
1986 56,742
1991 59,732
1996 58,382
2001 47,951
2006 59,943
2011 61,724
2013 82,551

Culture, events and festivals

Many local concerts, performances, events, festivals are held at the Rockhampton's numerous venues throughout the city each year.

Pilbeam Theatre

The Pilbeam Theatre, seats 1200 people, frequently plays host to national and international music and comedy 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. One of the more memorable shows at the Pilbeam Theatre was a concert in 1980 by Australian performer Peter Allen who sparked a furore when he caused damage to the special surface of the theatre's Steinway grand piano when he got up and danced on it during his show. After the incident, Rockhampton City Council withheld $1000 from ticket sales to cover repair costs. The piano was repaired and is still in use at the theatre, and was even used in a local production of The Boy From Oz, the musical based on Peter Allen's life, in 2011. Prior to the shows, organisers assured Rockhampton ratepayers that there'd be no repeat of the 1980 incident.

The Pilbeam Theatre also made news in 1984. After attending the opening night of the New Moon Theatre Company's production of David Williamson's play, Don's Party at the Pilbeam Theatre in 1984, Rockhampton councillor Teresa Doblo said that the use of obscene language was irresponsible and unnecessary. Doblo then proposed the establishment of a censorship committee to vet scripts of all council-sponsored productions at the Pilbeam Theatre. New Moon producer Paul Iles said his company would not tolerate external censorship while Williamson said he was totally amazed at the stance taken by Doblo. On 16 July 1984, Rockhampton mayor Jim Webber guaranteed that there wouldn't be any censorship committee established to review scripts.

Rockhampton Heritage Village

The Rockhampton Heritage Village located at Parkhurst on the northern outskirts of the city is used for a number of local events held throughout the year.

The annual Rockhampton Cultural Festival held each August at the Rockhampton Heritage Village features a variety of market stalls, displays, international foods, music and cultural displays.

The Rockhampton Heritage Village is also the venue for market days held every second month, and for other annual events such as the Rockhampton Heritage Festival held each June, and the annual Emergency Services Day which is held every July.

For more formal occasions, there is a function centre called "The Shearing Shed" which is regularly used for school formals and weddings.

Rockhampton Music Bowl

Opened in 1985, closed in 2011 and then re-opened in 2015 the Rockhampton Music Bowl regularly plays host to events including the annual Carols by Candlelight every December.

The inaugural Rocky Rocks concert, featuring well known Australian musicians such as Daryl Braithwaite, Russell Morris and Richard Clapton, was also held at the Rockhampton Music Bowl in 2016.

In June 2011, the venue hosted the Electronic Vibes Music Festival which featured well known acts such as Evermore, The Potbelleez, Zoë Badwi, and TV Rock.

In June 2016, it was announced that there would be a "Sea FM Live" concert scheduled for 8 October 2016, but Sea FM posted an announcement on their Facebook page on 11 July 2016 advising that promoters Empire Touring had cancelled the concert due to unforeseeable circumstances.

In the past, the Rockhampton Music Bowl has also hosted Silverchair, Savage Garden, and John Denver.

Rockhampton Showgrounds

The Rockhampton Showgrounds plays host to numerous events each year. Most notably, the three-day Rockhampton Show is held in June each year.

The annual Rocky Swap has been held at the venue each August since its inception in 1996.

The tri-annual Beef Australia Expo is held every third May.

The Rockhampton Showgrounds also incorporates the local city raceway where the Rockhampton Saloon Car Club hold regular speedway meets and where motorcycles first raced in 1925. The major grandstand at the showgrounds is believed to be the largest at any speedway venue in Queensland.

Fitzroy Riverbank and CBD

The inaugural Rockhampton River Festival was first held in July 2015 on the Fitzroy River, which was initially planned to be a substitute for two previous annual events, Big River Jazz and Fire In The Sky, with additional cultural elements.

The three-day Capricorn Food & Wine Festival, previously held near Yeppoon, is now held on the Fitzroy Riverbank in Rockhampton in September each year.

Each November, local East Street businesses come together to hold the annual CBD Christmas Fair. The evening features market stalls, rides and amusements, reptile displays, live music and the traditional lighting of the Christmas Tree which is erected in the middle of the East Street/Denham Street roundabout.

The city centre also has a vibrant pub and night-club scene, many of them located in the city precinct such as the Zodiac Nightclub and Flamingo's on Quay, . 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.

Anzac Day

Like many Australian communities, Rockhampton commemorates Anzac Day on 25 April each year. Thousands usually attend the commemorations in Rockhampton including a dawn service at the heritage-listed war memorial at the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, followed by an Anzac Day procession through the streets in the CBD, concluding with a Civic Service of Remembrance at City Hall.

Rockhampton is believed to be the very first city in Australia to hold an early morning commemoration intentionally scheduled to coincide with when the landing at Gallipoli took place, as the city held a "daybreak" service at 6:30 am on 25 April 1916, in which 700 people attended.

Annual Christmas Parade

The local branch of Cancer Council Queensland in conjunction with Stockland Rockhampton holds an annual Christmas Parade each November to mark the commencement of the Christmas retail period, and the arrival of Santa at Stockland. Local businesses, community organisations and schools enter festively decorated floats into the parade with the money raised from entry fees going to the Cancer Council. The northbound lanes of Queen Elizabeth Drive and Musgrave Street are temporarily closed on the evening of the event while the parade proceeds the three kilometres from the Rockhampton Cricket Ground near the Fitzroy River to the Stockland shopping centre.

Royal visits

Duke of Gloucester

Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester visited Rockhampton on 12 June 1946. Although his wife Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester was scheduled to accompany him, she had to temporarily withdraw from the tour due to ill health.

Preparations for the Duke of Gloucester's visit began in April 1946, when Rockhampton mayor Henry Jeffries announced that the Duke, who was also serving as the 11th Governor-General of Australia, would visit Rockhampton with his wife. It was revealed that they would stay in Rockhampton overnight after they arrived on the afternoon of 11 June 1946. They would then depart the following afternoon. In a letter to Mayor Jeffries, the Duke's Aide-de-camp indicated that the Duke was looking forward to the visit as they had been disappointed that they'd been unable to visit the previous year.

After a public holiday had been gazetted for a national holiday on 10 June for Victory Day, it was reported Rockhampton City Council was attempting to secure permission to move local Victory Day celebrations from 10 to 12 June to coincide with the Duke and Duchess' visit. Mayor Jeffries said he was in discussions with Queensland Premier Ned Hanlon and Acting Prime Minister Frank Forde.

However, Forde confirmed in a telegram soon after that the request from Rockhampton City Council to stage Victory Day celebrations on 12 June 1946 was denied because it was impracticable due to the Commonwealth Government already proclaiming a national holiday for 10 June and would therefore be inappropriate to exempt one city from the general proclamation. Forde also stated that the Duke was already scheduled to attend Victory Day celebrations in Brisbane on 10 June, so it wouldn't be appropriate to ask him to attend similar celebrations two days later.

Although the proposal to move Victory Day celebrations was rejected, it was revealed that the Duke would present medals awarded to members of the armed services, or the next-of-kin of deceased members, during his tour of regional Queensland, with the ceremony in Rockhampton confirmed to take place on 12 June 1946.

It was reported on 10 June 1946 that Mayor Jeffries had received a telegram that advised that the Duchess of Gloucester would not be accompanying her husband in Rockhampton as she was suffering from a cold and had withdrawn from the Brisbane to Rockhampton leg of the royal tour on medical advice. It was said she hoped to re-join her husband in Mackay.

Prior to the Duke's arrival, Mayor Jeffries appealed to all employers in Rockhampton, particularly those who employed ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen, to grant their employees a leave of absence from 10:30am until noon to enable them to partake in the civic welcome, the investiture of war decorations and the inspection of returned service personnel by the Duke.

The Duke of Gloucester arrived in Rockhampton on the evening of 11 June 1946, stepping off the Avro York aircraft, MW140, Endeavour at Rockhampton Airport at 5:25pm. Minister for Defence Frank Forde, State Treasurer James Larcombe, and Rockhampton Town Clerk Eric Bryant joined Mayor Henry Jeffries in the reception party to welcome the Duke to the city. Upon disembarking, the Duke expressed his regret about his wife's absence due to her cold and throat infection, but assured the reception party that her condition was improving. The Duke also remarked to the mayor that he noted the size of the city as he flew into Rockhampton on Endeavour, particularly with the layout featuring straight lines. Mayor Jeffries then accompanied the Duke of Gloucester to a special suite at the Criterion Hotel.

One of the first acts performed by the Duke upon arrival in Rockhampton was to dispatch a telegram expressing sympathy to Queensland Premier Ned Hanlon whose wife Elizabeth had died suddenly after suffering from pneumonia.

A civic reception was held at City Hall on the morning of 12 June 1946 where Mayor Henry Jeffries officially welcomed the Duke of Gloucester.

In his welcome speech, Mayor Jeffries welcomed the Duke and assured him of the pride the Rockhampton people had in the British Empire, the loyalty they showed for the throne, and the deep gratitude they had for the honour of the visit being conferred upon them. Mayor Jeffries explained to the Duke about the mining and pastoral activities that had helped develop the region and that he was in a part of Australia that had further potential, and was looking to support a larger population. The mayor said that there may be a time when the Duke's sons, Prince William and Prince Richard could visit Australia in the future and find Rockhampton to be a much larger city, because he trusted Central Queenslanders would never lose the sense of self-reliance and enterprise of the pioneers who had founded the district, ensuring further progress.

In his reply, the Duke of Gloucester said that his visit found the city taking up more tasks of peace with undiminished confidence in the future of Central Queensland, and that Rockhampton was barely past the threshold of development and expansion. He also said he was impressed with Rockhampton's hope that, when immigration was resumed, that every effort would be made to attract more people from the Mother Country. The Duke also said he realised that the people of Central Queensland regard the possibilities not as riches waiting to be picked up, but as a challenge to men and women with stout hearts and strong hands.

While at City Hall, the Duke of Gloucester signed the Visitor's Book in the mayor's office that had been instituted in 1909, simply signing the book "12.6.46 Henry".

Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Rockhampton on 15 March 1954.

Plans for another royal visit to Rockhampton commenced in October 1951 when Minister in Charge of the Royal Visit Eric Harrison confirmed Rockhampton was included as a city that Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip would visit during their royal tour of Australia in 1952.

In November 1951, the general committee of the Rockhampton Agricultural Society appointed a sub-committee to delegate with Rockhampton City Council on any matter regarding the royal visit. When the sub-committee was appointed, it was decided a special rodeo would be held on 26 and 28 April the following year to commemorate Princess Elizabeth's visit to Rockhampton.

The state director of the proposed 1952 royal tour arrived in Rockhampton in December 1951 to make arrangements for Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh's visit. It was announced that they were expected to arrive in the city on 28 April 1952 where they would meet with Rockhampton mayor Henry Jeffries and Queensland Premier Ned Hanlon, before proceeding to City Hall. A visit to Rockhampton General Hospital was also scheduled.

However, the death of Princess Elizabeth's father, King George VI on 6 February 1952 resulted in the tour of Australia being postponed. It was eventually rescheduled and Elizabeth II intended to make her way to Australia in 1954 with her husband, but this time as Queen instead of Princess, after she became the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth succeeding her late father. The Queen became the first reigning monarch to set foot on Australian soil when she arrived in Sydney on 3 February 1954.

In 1953, it was announced that, subject to royal assent, the northern approach to the newly constructed Fitzroy Bridge would be called Queen Elizabeth Drive to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Alderman Les Jones proposed during discussions about Queen Elizabeth Drive that it would be feasible for the Queen to be the first to travel on the road named in her honour during her visit.

In the weeks prior to their arrival, decorative displays began being erected all over Rockhampton, which included bunting, streamers, flags, banners, crowns, cyphers, coats of arms and decorative arches.

Buildings that were illuminated with colourful lights at night included the Rockhampton Post Office and the Glenmore Power Station which was lit up with a framed Royal Cipher. An illuminated kangaroo and lion on Williams Ltd in East Street also drew attention during the nights preceding the royal visit.

A fireworks display at the Rockhampton Showgrounds on 12 March 1954 signalled the start of week-long celebrations marking the imminent arrival of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in Rockhampton. A street march featuring five marching bands paraded through city streets on 13 March 1954. A riverside carnival along the Fitzroy River on the night of 13 March 1954 was organised by the Rockhampton Spastic Welfare League. The carnival featured square dancing in Quay Street in front of Customs House and a concert on the corner of Denham and Quay Street. A free civic Royal Tour concert was held at the Wintergarden Theatre on 14 March 1954 and a grand Royal Tour ball was held in the School of Arts on 15 March 1954 where music was supplied by two orchestras.

Three Humber Pullman cars, two Humber Super Snipe cars, two Holden cars and one Land Rover arrived in Rockhampton by rail several days before the royal visit where they would be used as part of the Queen's motorcade. The vehicles were kept under police guard at Kingel Motors in Alma Street. The royal couple were expected to ride in one of the Humber Super Snipes.

The Rockhampton Ambulance Service moved to make assurances that they would be adequately prepared to deal with the minor casualties that were expected amongst the estimated 60,000 people that were expected to congregate along the route. Ten first aid posts were set up along the route and school teachers had been trained to use specific signals to attract medical assistance for children. The local fire brigade expressed concerns that the barricaded streets and the crowds would hinder a quick getaway for fire trucks should any outbreak of fire occur during the royal visit.

After months of preparation, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Rockhampton on 15 March 1954.

A special commemorative edition of Rockhampton's local newspaper The Morning Bulletin was published. In an unprecedented move, the newspaper featured nothing on the front page except bordered photographs of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, within a decorative illustration which itself was bordered which was accompanied by just one message, specifically addressing the royal couple's visit, which read:

With loyalty and affection, Central Queensland says: Welcome. This is our day. A happy and glorious page is about to be written in the history of Central Queensland. Now we join those other honoured cities and towns of Australia that have given personal welcome to our young Queen and her husband. Her majesty will be with us but for a short time. In those few hours, however, we Central Queenslanders will show that our affection has its own special degree of warmth, and that our loyalty to the Crown is, as always, sincere and unswerving. Never before has there been such crowds; never before such a showing. But then, never before, has there been such a day. Rockhampton people - indeed the people of the whole Central Division, have put aside their recent worries and have made their gesture in the grand manner. On this page, we have attempted to represent the coming together of our Sovereign and us; combining the rose of England with the bauhinia, floral emblem of this city, in a frame for our greeting.

Special trains had been organised to bring people from the more remote parts of Central Queensland into Rockhampton for the royal visit.

When the Queen and Duke arrived at the Rockhampton Airport, the royal party was met by Rockhampton mayor Rex Pilbeam and his wife, and the Minister for Health Bill Moore. The royal party consisted of Minister in Charge of the Royal Tour Eric Harrison, Queensland Premier Vince Gair and his wife Ellen, Lady Alice Egerton, Michael Adeane, Baron Adeane, Lieutenant-Commander Michael Parker and Wing Commander Michael George Cowan.

The royals proceeded to a civic reception at City Hall where Mayor Pilbeam officially welcomed them to the city.

In her reply to Pilbeam's welcome address, the Queen referenced the flooding that had impacted the Rockhampton area a month prior, saying she had read with concern of accounts of the recent flooding the area had experienced, and she sent sympathy to those affected by the disaster. The Queen said she hoped the damage could be quickly repaired. She thanked the mayor for his kind and loyal address and said that they had been fortunate to visit Rockhampton because they understood it was the pastoral and commercial capital of Central Queensland. The bells of St Paul's Cathedral and St Joseph's Cathedral in Rockhampton tolled in honour of the royal visitors, and both the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh signed the same Visitor's Book that the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, had signed in 1946.

The Rockhampton police inspector said that he had been the happiest man in Rockhampton upon his arrival back at the Rockhampton Police Station after the royal couple had departed, due to the well organised planning that ensured nothing awry occurred during the visit. He added that the public were to be commended on their behaviour and decorum during the visit. The only reported accident during the proceedings was when an 11-month baby was injured when hot tea was accidentally spilt on the baby's foot while a cup of tea was being prepared under the shade of a tree along the route. The baby was transported to a private hospital where its injuries were treated.

Three children were also reported as lost among the dense crowds and were taken back to the Rockhampton Police Station but were collected by their parents before nightfall. The more quirky sightings along the route included two men who had made periscopes to ensure they wouldn't miss seeing the royal couple as they motored past, and a woman who insisted on ringing a cow bell to welcome the Queen and Duke.

The Queen expressed regret that they were unable to see a rodeo and asked Pilbeam to keep it in mind should the couple return to Rockhampton as she recalled an enjoyable time she had at a rodeo in Canada.

The chairs used by the Queen and Duke at the civic reception were hand-carved in Louis XIV-style in Queensland maple, and upholstered in red velvet with gold monograms, and were manufactured by local company Tucker and Tucker. The firm confirmed that they would offer the chairs and matching table to the city as a gift.

Princess Alexandra

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy visited Rockhampton on 1 September 1959.

During her visit to the city, the Princess stayed at Clancholla Estate.

It was reported in the national media that during her tour of Rockhampton, she ordered her driver to stop the car when she spotted an elderly lady standing outside an aged care home with a bouquet of flowers. After motioning for her driver to stop, Princess Alexandra exited the car and walked back to greet the woman and receive the flowers.

Princess Alexandra returned to Rockhampton during a two-week tour of Australia in September 1978 when she officially opened the new three-storey library at the Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education (now CQUniversity) on 30 September 1978.

Nightclub bombings

Shark Nightclub

At 3:05 am on the morning of 10 November 1989, a bomb exploded inside the Shark Nightclub on the corner of Fitzroy and Bolsover Street in the Rockhampton CBD, causing extensive structural damage to the building.

While first responders attended the scene, another bomb exploded causing serious injuries to a fire officer and police officer. A further two devices that had failed to detonate were later discovered, along with ten unexploded sticks of gelignite.

It was reported at the time that Gerard Falzon was part-owner of the club. Falzon was a witness used in the Fitzgerald Inquiry and he had also given evidence in a court case in Townsville involving charges against a police officer accused of threatening Falzon if he didn't hand over $2000. The Shark Nightclub had already been subject to an arson attack the previous month. In that incident, a wick consisting of towels soaked in flammable liquid was discovered after a fire broke out at the premises on 16 October 1989.

In 2011, the fireman who was injured, Trevor Kidd, said the bombing was the most frightening situation he had been faced with during his career. He revealed that he had spent twelve weeks in hospital recovering from various spinal, muscle and bone injuries.

Twenty years after the bombing, Queensland Police Service commissioner Bob Atkinson announced that the Minister for Police and Corrective Services had approved a reward of $50,000 for anyone who had information that led to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the bombing of the Shark Nightclub.

Factory Nightclub

At 4:10 am on the morning of 28 June 1990, an explosion occurred at the Factory Nightclub in the John M Headrick & Co Building in East Street, in the Rockhampton CBD.

Investigations revealed one of the timing devices attached to the bomb failed to detonate.

Police maintain that if the second device had detonated, the entire building would have been destroyed.

29 sticks of unexploded gelignite were found in the nightclub during the investigation, causing nearby businesses to be evacuated.

Twenty years after the bombing, Queensland Police Service commissioner Bob Atkinson announced that the Minister for Police and Corrective Services had approved a reward of $50,000 for information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the bombing of the Factory Nightclub.

The Factory Nightclub was located on the same block as the local ABC Capricornia studios. Former ABC Capricornia presenter Andrew Lofthouse recalled during the station's 85th anniversary in 2016 that due to the entire block being cordened off, he was unable to arrive at the 4RK studios to begin what was supposed to be his first day of work in 1990.


2010 Flooding in Rockhampton Queensland
View of the swollen Fitzroy River, which surrounded the western half of Rockhampton in early 2011.

Rockhampton experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa/Cwa). 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 cold fronts sweeping in from the Southern Ocean. Typical temperature ranges are 22 to 32 °C (72 to 90 °F) in the summer/wet season and 9 to 23 °C (48 to 73 °F) in the winter/dry season. The city receives 116.3 days of clear skies annually.

Rockhampton lies within the cyclone risk zone and has experienced several large cyclones since European settlement.

On 21 January 1918, an unnamed Tropical Cyclone crossed the coast just north of Mackay. It was very large in size and the destructive winds extended down to Rockhampton resulting in structural damage to some buildings and two deaths when two men were drowned in Rockhampton. The cyclone brought widespread flooding to the region and caused Rockhampton's record flood of 1918.

On 2 March 1949, an unnamed tropical cyclone crossed the Capricorn Coast, just south of Keppel Sands, and followed the Fitzroy River into Rockhampton. The cyclone caused significant damage, and resulted in the deaths of two Rockhampton men who were both blown from their rooftops while attempting repairs. Widespread damage and destruction was recorded in the city of Rockhampton, and surrounding towns.

On 19 January 1976, Tropical Cyclone David affected the Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Mount Morgan areas when it crossed the coast just north of St. Lawrence, north of Rockhampton. Although it crossed the coast in a sparsely populated area, there was significant damage reported along the coast, particularly Yeppoon where thirty buildings, including the Yeppoon Hospital, were unroofed. The breakwater of at Rosslyn Bay Harbour near Yeppoon was also destroyed, along with yachts and trawlers.

On 20 February 2015, Tropical Cyclone Marcia hit Rockhampton as a Category 3 system after crossing the Capricorn Coast at Shoalwater Bay as a Category 5 cyclone. While Yeppoon and the rural communities to the north of Yeppoon such as Byfield and Woodbury were hardest hit, the eye of the cyclone travelled directly across the city of Rockhampton as it moved southwest. A vast number of trees and power lines were brought down, and many properties in Rockhampton were damaged by the strong wind gusts.

The Rockhampton area is also 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 m (33.2 ft) on the Rockhampton gauge. The second highest flood in Rockhampton was recorded on 19 February 1954, when the Fitzroy River peaked at a height of 9.4 metres. Rockhampton's third worst flood was recorded on 12 January 1991, when the Fitzroy River peaked at 9.3 metres.

More recently, Rockhampton was affected by the 2010–2011 Queensland floods when the Fitzroy River peaked at 9.2 metres on 5 January 2011, although the river was expected to rise as high as 9.4 metres.

The highest recorded official temperature in Rockhampton was 45.3 °C (113.5 °F), while the lowest was −1.0 °C (30.2 °F). The highest recorded 24-hour rainfall total was 348 millimetres (13.7 in) on 25 January 2013.

Climate data for Rockhampton Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 42.5
Average high °C (°F) 31.9
Average low °C (°F) 22.1
Record low °C (°F) 16.3
Rainfall mm (inches) 132.2
Humidity 53 57 54 49 47 46 42 40 40 42 46 49 47
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 11.2 12.3 10.1 6.6 6.2 5.0 5.2 4.3 4.1 6.5 7.8 9.8 89.1
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology


Since European settlement, Rockhampton has experienced shaking associated with several earthquakes.


At approximately 3 am on the morning of 29 August 1883, there were reports of shaking in Rockhampton and the surrounding area. A local man reported seeing two flashes of "lightning" during the event, although there weren't any clouds in the night sky. The flashes of light the man saw may have been earthquake light that appeared during the event. The earthquake felt in Rockhampton has since been estimated to have been a 5.9 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre located near Gayndah, Queensland.


Strong shaking was felt in Rockhampton when the "Great Queensland Earthquake of 1918" occurred on 7 June 1918. The earthquake was felt from Mackay in the north, to Grafton in New South Wales, and west to Charleville. The earthquake has been estimated to have been a 6.0 magnitude quake with its epicentre located offshore between Rockhampton and Gladstone.

It was reported that Rockhampton felt three distinct shocks between 4:15 am and 5:00 am on the morning of 7 June 1918, which caused some damage to buildings including chimney stacks crumbling, plaster being dislodged from walls and ceilings, water tanks bursting and trees being uprooted. Houses and buildings experienced considerable swaying with crockery smashing on the floor and pictures falling off walls. Cracks appeared in some building including the Rockhampton Post Office in East Street and the Rockhampton Club in Quay Street.

The 1918 earthquake remains as the largest to have ever hit Queensland since European settlement.


On the afternoon of 18 August 2016 many parts of Central Queensland, including Rockhampton and Emerald experienced shaking when a 5.6 magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Bowen, Queensland.

Meteorite sightings


On 2 August 1903, many people in Rockhampton reported seeing a meteorite. Between eight and ten minutes after the meteorite was observed in the sky, a loud boom was heard which shook houses, rattled tin roofs and moved telegraph wires.


Central Queensland residents, including in Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Gladstone, reported seeing a bright orange light in the sky on the night of 31 October 2016. Many residents in the Gladstone area south of Rockhampton, particularly those living in the Boyne Island and Tannum Sands areas, reported hearing a loud boom soon after. Despite the light also being observed in Rockhampton, there were no reports of the boom being heard there, unlike in 1903. Experts including Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, Astro Space News editor Dave Reneke and private astronomer Owen Bennedick all concluded that a meteorite had crashed to earth near Gladstone.


The Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, also owned by the Rockhampton Regional Council, is situated next to the Pilbeam Theatre and consists mainly of works by Australian artists from the 1940s to the 1970s. 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 specialise in Australian native plants, especially those of Central Queensland. The most striking feature of the gardens 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 and is 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. Black flying foxes and occasionally Grey-headed flying foxes can be seen and heard at night and are important native pollinators and seed dispersers of over 100 species of trees.

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.

Rockhampton Viewed from Mount Archer at Night
Rockhampton City at night, as viewed from Mount Archer

Rising out of Rockhampton's north-eastern suburbs, Mount Archer National Park provides views of the city, and showcases a range of native Australian flora and fauna. Frazer Park, at the summit of Mount 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. The Heritage Village features the Time After Time clock collection, and the History of the Rockhampton District, Life before electricity, and Hospital exhibitions and a Vintage car collection.

A short drive north of Rockhampton is the Capricorn Caves.



Rockhampton Airport
Rockhampton Airport

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 systems, 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. Driving time is seven and a half hours from Brisbane to Rockhampton.

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 Australia. The Hinterland and Central Highlands are also serviced daily by Rothery's Coaches, Pacific Coaches and Emerald Coaches.

Bus services are operated by Sunbus Rockhampton, which operates under the QConnect public transport system. Two bus interchanges are located in Rockhampton City through which the majority of 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, Yellow Cabs, who service the City of Rockhampton, Gracemere, and also some services in Yeppoon and Emu Park.

Rockhampton railway station is located on the North Coast railway, and is the terminus of the electrified section of line from Brisbane with through diesel service continuing beyond; services are provided by Queensland Rail. Denison St, Rockhampton is one of the few places where the main line runs down the middle of the street. An Electric Tilt Train services connects it to Brisbane, and the Diesel Tilt Train services the station en route to Cairns.

Rockhampton Airport is operated by Rockhampton Regional Council and is located 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) (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 communities. The airport is also a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Rescue Helicopter.

Road train access to Rockhampton

The project for upgrading between Gracemere saleyards and the Rockhampton abattoirs to provide access for Type 1 Road Trains was completed by early 2021 at a total cost of $30 million. It involved about 29 kilometres (18 mi) of road improvements on four roads:

  • Capricorn Highway - from Saleyards Road at Gracemere to the Bruce Highway roundabout at Rochhampton (7.7 kilometres (4.8 mi)).
  • Bruce Highway - from the Capricorn Highway roundabout to the Yaamba Road intersection (8.3 kilometres (5.2 mi)).
  • Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road - from the Bruce Highway intersection south-west to the Emu Park Road intersection (2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi).
  • Rockhampton-Emu Park Road - from the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road intersection to St Christophers Chapel Road at Nerimbera (10.2 kilometres (6.3 mi)).


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, 28 kilometres (17 mi) 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.

Sister city

  • Japan Ibusuki, Japan (since 20 November 1980)



The agricultural sector, specifically the cattle trade, is a dominant industry in Central Queensland. The latter has been visually represented around Rockhampton City with a set of seven large statues of bulls known as the 'Big Bulls'.

Two large abattoirs are located on the south-eastern outskirts of Rockhampton provides employment for people living in Rockhampton and also for refugees from overseas who are recruited when the companies experience difficulty finding local workers to fill vacancies.

One meat processing plant is located at Lakes Creek, operated by Teys Australia (a Cargill joint venture) while the JBS meatworks is located at Nerimbera.

The Teys Australia meatworks at Lakes Creek was previously owned by Kerry Packer's Consolidated Meat Group. CMG temporarily closed the facility in 2002. It was reopened in 2004, when Consolidated Meat Group announced they had formed a joint venture with Teys Australia. In 2011, Cargill bought out CMG's share in the company.

Due to drought, floods, general economic conditions and disputes with workers, both facilities have experienced a number of closures over the years including the closure of the Lakes Creek meatworks from 2002 until 2004, but they are both currently operating as normal.

The Central Queensland Livestock Exchange at Gracemere is one of the largest livestock sales facilities in the country, lies just to the west of the city.

Rockhampton promotes itself as the Beef Capital of Australia but the title has been disputed a number of times by the New South Wales town of Casino.

The tri-annual Beef Australia Expo held in the city is a celebration of the local area's cattle industry.


There is a permanent military presence in Rockhampton with members of the Australian Defence Force based at the Western Street Army Barracks located near the Rockhampton Airport. To the north of the city lies the extensive Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area where large scale ground, air and amphibious operations are regularly conducted.

Due to its close proximity to the training area, the city regularly sees military movements between the Western Street Army Barracks and Shoalwater Bay, and hosts service personnel from overseas when joint military exercises are held. When these exercises occur, Rockhampton sees a noticeable increase in activity from military transport, including from defence aircraft that are frequently seen at Rockhampton Airport throughout the exercise periods.

The local economy is significantly boosted when visiting overseas troops stay in the city while participating in the army exercises.

Military training conducted in the Rockhampton area regularly draws the ire of nomadic peace activists who travel to the city to protest the exercises.

In 2011, during Exercise Talisman Sabre, a protester made his way onto the tarmac at Rockhampton Airport and attacked a $36 million Tiger helicopter with a garden mattock. The man was ordered to stand trial charged with wilful damage and threatening an aircraft but died before the matter went to trial.


Tourism is increasingly playing a role in the economic 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 and spend money at local businesses including eateries, entertainment facilities or on recreational activities. The Capricorn Coast is a 30-minute drive from Rockhampton, with the islands of the Keppel group easily accessible from there.

Other attractions that are promoted to the tourist market include the Fitzroy River, the Heritage-listed buildings in the CBD, the Rockhampton Heritage Village, the Dreamtime Cultural Centre, the Archer Park Rail Museum, Mount Archer National Park, Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, and Rockhampton Zoo.

A national promotional campaign was launched in 2013 to promote the local area as a premium tourist destination, featuring local singer-songwriter Kate Leahy whose song "We Like" featured as the soundtrack to the television commercials that showed the attractions of Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast.

Other industry

Other industries in the Rockhampton area include the transport, manufacturing, mining and energy sectors.

Rail group Aurizon (previously known as QR National) 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. However, the company announced in October 2015 that it was closing its locomotive and maintenance depots in Rockhampton with forty jobs lost from the Rockhampton site. Management of Aurizon's Rockhampton site was criticised by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union in 2016 who described it as "appalling", prompting 60 workers to walk off the job citing lack of consultation, lack of adequate training for apprentices, a lack of privacy and unfair demands from management for workers to increase productivity.

The coal fired 1445 megawatt Stanwell Power Station lies at Stanwell, 30 kilometers west of the city, where Stanwell Corporation provides jobs for people living in Rockhampton. The power station currently has a workforce of about 150 employees and regularly hires new apprentices from Rockhampton

Sibelco operates magnesia mine at Kunwarara and processing plant at Parkhurst which employs many locals, although the company announced in 2015 that it would axe 57 jobs from its local operations, with another 45 jobs axed in 2016.


According to the 2016 census, there were 76,985 people in Rockhampton.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 7.2% of the population.
  • 82.8% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were New Zealand 1.4%, England 1.3%, Philippines 1.1%, India 0.6% and Vietnam 0.4%.
  • 86.4% of people spoke only English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Vietnamese 0.5%, Tagalog 0.5%, Portuguese 0.3%, Filipino 0.3% and Mandarin 0.3%
  • The most common responses for religion were Catholic 26.5%, No Religion 22.6% and Anglican 17.1%.


Rockhampton Girls Grammar School
Rockhampton Girls Grammar School ca.1895

The first school, The Rockhampton National School was opened in 1859. Rockhampton is a major education centre for the region and has numerous state and private primary and high schools.

CQUniversity Australia was founded in Rockhampton in 1967, however the university now has more than 30,000 students spread across 24 campuses and locations Australia-wide. The university has a focus on engagement, social innovation and engaged research, as well inclusivity and has a history as a leading provider of distance education.

The university was recognised within the top 600 universities in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and was named among the top 150 universities, under 50, by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2016.

The university currently delivers more than 300 education and training offerings, from short courses and certificates, through to undergraduate, postgraduate and research degrees.

Secondary schools in Rockhampton include Rockhampton State High School, North Rockhampton State High School, Rockhampton Grammar School, Rockhampton Girls Grammar School, The Cathedral College, Rockhampton, Emmaus College and Heights College.

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See also

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