Brendon is in search of the ideal steak in our meat capital - but he has found a whole lot of fun to go with it.
Rockhampton is the administrative and commercial centre of central Queensland. It has proclaimed itself "beef capital of Australia", and quite rightly so as there are more than two million head of cattle within a 250km radius of the city. They are revered in statues around the city giant Brahman, Braford and Santa Gertrudis bulls mark the northern and southern approaches.
Gracemere Saleyards is the heart of Australia's cattle industry. Every weekday there are sales of cattle, quarter horses, pigs and sheep. Auctions are high-spirited affairs, attended by tourists as well as prospective buyers. Most beef is exported to the US, Canada, Japan, Korean and Taiwan. Saudi Arabia is becoming a good customer.
The town has a Tropic of Capricorn spire which marks the spot where you cross from temperate zone to the tropics.
Forty kilometres from the coast, Queensland's largest river, the Fitzroy, flows through the town. The long Fitzroy Bridge connects the city centre with the newer northern suburbs. The river provides good barramundi, blue threadfin, king threadfin and gold spot estuary cod.
Historic Quay Street, Australia's longest National Trust heritage-listed street, has many grand Victorian buildings dating back to the goldrush days. Although it was established in 1853 as a trading port by the Archer brothers, its growth was boosted by a minor goldrush in 1858. Real development began when rich gold and copper deposits at Mt Morgan were found in 1882.
The Heritage Village on Rocky's outskirts is a living museum. It covers 18ha and is laid out in town and rural precincts. While largely a replica village, there are original buildings and it represents life there from 1850 to 1950. It is run by volunteers, young people on work-for-the-dole programs and senior citizens, dressed in period costume.
Because of the village's size, visitors are moved around in vintage vehicles. You will see a timber cutters' camp, with demonstrations of the use of broad axes, cross cut saws, wedges and adze. The one-room schoolhouse has a teacher who treats visitors like students, the blacksmith turns out horseshoes and Arnold's General Store sells boiled lollies and fizzy drinks. Lakes Creek Cottage is an old hospital building with some amazing 19th and 20th-century medical instruments, including an iron lung. The tour ends with a ride in the Cobb & Co coach.
Archer Park Station and Steam Tram is a heritage-listed building and working railway museum. It opened in 1899. One of its major exhibits is a Purrey steam tram, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world still operational.
As you can imagine, it's not difficult to find a good steak meal in Rockhampton. Word is that steaks at the Cambridge Hotel are legendary. They purchase beef from a local supplier which is aged for 10 to 12 weeks and serve up to 900 steaks a week. Char-grilled on the bone is the most popular.
The Criterion Hotel stands on the site of the Bush Inn, built in 1856. Their beef is aged a little longer and steaks there are enormous. Their most popular dish is Rocky Rump, served with asparagus and cheese.
The Coffee House is a pretty sophisticated place to dine. Five chefs are employed and their signature dish is a 400g eye fillet topped with prawns, scallops and béarnaise sauce.
On the Tropic of Capricorn in Queensland
Rockhampton Heritage Village costs $11 for a family.
Archer Park Station entry costs $5.50 and free tram rides operate on Sundays.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
16 Saleyards Road, Gracemere 4702
Ph: (07) 4931 7300www.rockysaleyards.qld.gov.au
Archer Park Station
Denison Street, Rockhampton 4700
Ph: (07) 4922 2774, Fax: (07) 4927 0129http://email@example.com
Boundary Road, Rockhampton 4700
Ph: (07) 4936 1026, Fax: (07) 4936 2600
Cambridge Street, Rockhampton 4700
Ph: (07) 4922 3006
150 Quay Street, Rockhampton 4700
Ph: (07) 4922 1225
The Coffee House
William & Bolsover Sts, Rockhampton
Ph: (07) 4927 5722, Fax: (07) 4927 5186www.coffeehouse.com.au
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