Welcome to Gladstone
Exhale now... with stunning white beaches, aqua-blue waters, picturesque shorelines, abundant rainforest, spectacular towering escarpments and a multitude of warm and welcoming locals, you can sit back, relax and escape the daily grind with any kind of bliss you choose, all in one region... Capricorn.
Enjoy a land of contrast - from sunbathing on secluded beaches to scrambling through underground caves or exploring grounds where our ancestors once roamed. Enjoying urban dining and nightlife, or escaping to an outback retreat. Capricorn is the perfect place to unwind and let go, connect with nature, and each other.
Central Queensland's Capricorn region begins approximately 630 km north of the capital city of Brisbane and covers an area of 115,000 square kilometres, stretching from the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the Capricorn Coast in the east, through the major city of Rockhampton and further west to Emerald, the Sapphire Gemfields and spectacular Carnarvon Gorge.
Capricorn Coast & Keppel Bay Islands
The gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, and home to the best of sun, surf and sea - the Capricorn Coast has it all.
Pristine coastline stretches 95km from Stanage Bay to the mouth of the Fitzroy River and is speckled with charming townships, beaches, fantastic fishing and a laid-back, coastal lifestyle - what more could you want!
A variety of local community festivals, sporting events and special seasonal events are held throughout the year and each Sunday you will find a market at a different location.
The coastal life would not be complete without the amazing Keppel Islands just 30 minutes off the coast of Yeppoon, where you can step onto an island paradise. With 20 islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef boasting the best of reef, white sand beaches and sparkling blue sea - you'll be begging to be castaway!
With the protection of a fringing reef, the waters surrounding the Keppels are amazingly calm, making it perfect for all types of water sports such as snorkeling, sea kayaking, water-skiing and tubing. An abundance of tropical fish, and colourful coral fills the water only a short swim away.
For dramatically coloured reef, Queensland's most northerly surf beaches, and an affordable, rejuvenating coastal holiday - you just can't miss the Capricorn Coast.
Rockhampton, Mt Morgan and Surrounds
The bustling hub of Rockhampton boasts authentic and easy going country hospitality, as well as cosmopolitan shopping, fine dining and a wide range of entertainment options and nightlife.
Situated on the banks of the mighty Fitzroy River, Rockhampton is renowned for its elegant streetscapes with majestic sandstone buildings. The iconic life-sized bull statues represent the country roots of Rockhampton and its status as the 'Beef Capital of Australia.'
Just a short trip down the road is Mt Morgan. After yielding over 225,000kg of gold in a gold rush of epic proportions, as well as a wealth of silver and copper, the bustling township is now home to plenty of tourist destinations, dining and tours, so sit back and take a journey through time.
Just 23km north of Rockhampton, The Caves Township is home to some of the most spectacular caves in Queensland. The Capricorn Caves are the state's oldest tourist attraction and display incredible above ground limestone caves formed from an ancient coral reef over 400 million years ago.
Visit Mt Etna Caves National Park at dusk from December - February and experience one of the few places in the world where you can witness the flight of thousands of tiny, bent-wing bats at feeding time.
Central Queensland's Sapphire Gemfields
Make the discovery of a lifetime when you go fossicking for gems at the largest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere, which include the towns of Rubyvale, Anakie, Willows Gemfields and Sapphire. To get there it's only a four hour drive west of Rockhampton on the Capricorn Highway.
The Sapphire Gemfields cover almost 900 square kilometres of one of the world's most significant sapphire bearing grounds. The Gemfields' townships are populated by many characters of different nationalities, with many local's reporting "sapphire fever".
Rubyvale is home to two underground tourist sapphire mines, where you can venture beneath the earth and experience for yourself how sapphire mining was done in the ancient riverbeds. Visit a local pub and view the Gemfields architecture of billy boulders and ironbark logs.
Buy a bucket of wash at Sapphire - all the digging has been done for you and all there is left to do is sieve and sort for the hidden treasure!
Dig at one of the nominated fossicking in Willows Gemfields. Some of the world's most famous sapphires have been found here, including a 332 carat rough yellow stone, aptly named the 'Golden Willow'.
Positioned on the 'crossroads' along the Capricorn Highway, Anakie hosts the annual 'Gemfest - Festival of Gems' every year in August. Visit the Anakie Hotel which had to be partially rebuilt in 1971 after a disgruntled patron blew out the front section with gelignite.
Carnarvon Gorge & Central Highlands
Get a feel for the real rural Australian life with a visit to Capricorn's Central Highlands, west of Rockhampton. The Central Highlands are home to vast and diverse agricultural and mining operations as well as some of Queensland's most dramatic natural landscapes.
A slice of heaven within mining and cattle country, the Capricorn Region boasts sprawling national parks with towering escarpments and gorges, rainforest and waterfalls. Take your time wandering the region's marvel, Carnarvon Gorge.
Whether you visit Carnarvon because of its geological appeal, its rare and ancient indigenous rock art or for its delightful walking tracks, you will surely be struck by its magnificence and grandeur.
Visit Blackdown Tableland National Park, just half an hour drive off the Capricorn Highway and discover immense sandstone gorges and sweeping views of the endless plains around the park.
The Central Highlands are ideal for a touring holiday. Travel west from Rockhampton along the Capricorn Highway and you will come across some original outback frontier towns, like Alpha, where each street is named after a famous poet or Dingo where you can learn the unusual skill of dingo trap throwing.
The town of Emerald is the hub of the Central Highlands and is the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields. Here the whole family can fossick in the largest commercial sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere - who knows what treasure you might dig up!
Dining & Nightlife
Rockhampton is the Beef Capital of Australia and offers premium export quality produce, but beef is not the only thing on the menu in Capricorn.
Spend a lazy Saturday morning shopping for sun-ripened mangoes, pineapples or lychees at the local Capricorn Coast markets or visit a local seafood shop and indulge in Queensland's best by the beach.
The Rockhampton Riverbank Precinct along historic Quay Street, boasts numerous restaurants catering for all budgets. Enjoy hip wine and cocktail bars, sophisticated riverside dining, and funky Gastro-pubs.
Feeling thirsty? In Capricorn you're never far from a cold beverage at one of the region's charming old pubs. The region's pubs have a colourful history and are never short of a quirky character to tell you a yarn.
Things to See & Do
Looking for a little fun? Imagine cuddling up to a Koala or skydiving from 12 000 feet! Kids and adults alike love the variety of activities and attractions on offer in the Capricorn Region. Wildlife Sanctuaries, island boom-netting, gem fossicking, and exploring ancient forests are all on offer throughout this diverse region!
Cast a line in from one of the Capricorn Coast's long stretches of beach, or, if you prefer fishing deeper water, book yourself onto a bare boat fishing charter and have a local take you to the best fishing hotspots.
Useful Contacts & Things to See & Do
Drive Inland Promotion Association Inc.
Ph: 1300 225 577 W: www.leichhardthighway.com
Together with the adjoining Newell Highway, the Leichhardt links Melbourne, through Goondiwindi and onto the Capricorn Coast. Named in honour of explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt, these highways combine to make the fastest touring route from Melbourne to the Tropics taking you away from the hustle & bustle of the Coastal routes.