Rockhampton is on a culinary roll.
This bustling city in Central Queensland is the country’s undisputed beef capital, but the food offering these days goes well beyond a great rib eye. In fact, Rocky’s restaurant scene could well be one of the biggest surprises of your visit. Here are just a handful of the highlights.
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Rockhampton’s fabulous new Riverside Precinct redevelopment encompasses Denham and Quay Streets. It opened in early 2018, and with it came Boathouse – the city’s hottest dining destination. With a prime possie overlooking the Fitzroy River, Boathouse offers sophisticated but accessible waterfront dining and a vibe that wouldn’t be out of place in the heart of Sydney or Melbourne. Chill on the deck over shared plates or prawns by the bucket, or dive into something more substantial like the sumptuous pork belly asado. The cocktail list is an absolute hoot.
Sister venue to Boathouse, Headricks Lane is seriously cool. It occupies an historic warehouse on East Street and effortlessly mixes and matches modern industrial finishes with heritage touches. The lane part of the equation refers to the Melbourne laneway-style coffee-house-by-day/fine-dining-eatery-by-night that runs right through the building to Quay Lane. Feast on roasted duck breast, line-caught snapper or a slow-cooked lamb shoulder to share. The adjoining bar and soon-to-be-operational microbrewery offers innovative gastro-pub-style fare throughout the day. Headricks Lane also does a killer breaky menu, so all bases are covered. Enjoy!
This may be the heartland of rural Queensland, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your taste buds on an exotic getaway. For example, Project MEX has brought the tastes of modern Mexico to Rocky. Enjoy a fiesta of authentic Mexican flavours, along with a hip and happening atmosphere. The locals swear by Pacino’s – a popular family-run Italian bistro that offers al fresco riverfront dining. Thai Tanee on Denham Street gets great reviews for its spicy traditional curries and soups.
OK, it’s Rockhampton, so you are going to be looking for a great steak during your visit – and you can’t really go past the Great Western Hotel at the southern end of town. This is quite an experience. The venerable venue dates back to 1862 and encompasses an award-wining steak house – along with an indoor arena that hosts a live rodeo on Wednesdays and Fridays. The steak menu provides a rundown on where your piece of beef was raised. Other highly-rated options for a steak-out include Ribs and Rumps, Restaurant 98 and The Ginger Mule – which does a popular $12 steak night on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
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Historic pub grub
One of the things that makes a visit to Rockhampton super-special is the plethora of historic architecture to admire throughout the CBD. In fact, there are some 50+ heritage-listed gems across the city. They include the imposing Customs House, the old Post Office, Rockhampton School of Arts, Rockhampton Courthouse and so many more. At the northern end of Quay Street, you’ll find the iconic Criterion Hotel. A public house has stood on this spot since Rocky’s humble beginnings, and if it happens to be lunch or dinner time as you stroll past, it’s well worth ducking in to enjoy a pub meal in the period surroundings.
If you’re lucky enough to be checking in to the Quality Hotel Regent Rockhampton on Bolsover Street (housed in a historic former TAFE college dating back to the early 1900s) – make sure you dine in at least one night during your stay. The hotel’s exceptional eatery does breakfast, lunch and dinner. Choose from delectable mains like tender steak au poivre or melt-in-the-mouth ossobuco, and spoil yourself rotten with a slice of warmed chocolate torte topped with chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream. You’re so worth it.
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About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.
Your Next Adventure: A holiday guide to Rockhampton