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 neighboring island off the Capricorn Coast, the vast majority of which is national park.
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.
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 CQ University, showcases hundreds of market stalls and displays, 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 generally held in 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.
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.
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. Rockhampton promotes itself as the Beef Capital of Australia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
· June 2007 Resident Population – 74,530
· Established: 1858
· Coordinates: 23°22.5′S150°30.7′E
· Elevation: 11.3m (37 ft)
· Time Zone: AEST (UTC+10)
· Location: 636km (395 mi) NW of Brisbane
· LGA: Rockhampton Regional Council
· Region: Capricorn Coast