Jason Dundas visited Rockhampton
, Australia's beef capital, and was amazed to see how things have returned to pretty much normal in such a short time after the floods in December 2010 and January 2011. People had time to evacuate, but the city was partly underwater and completely cut off by flood waters for four weeks by air and two weeks by road.
The Fitzroy River peaked at 9.2m on January 5, but the city was only partially affected.
The gateway to the beautiful Capricorn Coast area has suffered a 90 percent loss of business, but they've worked hard to ensure there's little evidence that a disaster had occurred. There is a misconception that the area isn't ready for visitors, but that's a long way from the real story.
Gone are the tinnies and rubber duckies people were using as transport, and even Depot Hill, the lowest lying neighbourhood, is showing just a few watermarks. Heritage-listed Quay Street was unaffected. As with all businesses, locals want to stress that they are ready to welcome visitors to their beautiful city.
The Great Western Hotel is a favourite meeting place. It has a covered rodeo arena where events are held every week, and an entertainment venue holding 2000 people. It's a constant hive of activity and is known for great steaks and cold drinks. It has four bars, restaurant, air-conditioned gaming saloon and a Western retail store.
Discovery Holiday Park part of the Big 4 Holiday Parks is on the banks of the Fitzroy River. On the Tropic of Capricorn, it's surrounded by the Berserker Ranges and Mount Archer National Park is nearby. Self-contained apartments, villas and chalets, motel rooms, powered camp and caravan sites provide something for everyone. The air-conditioned 4.5-star deluxe Paradise apartments sleep eight in three bedrooms and have two bathrooms and a full kitchen.
There are two pools, on-site bistro, kiosk, barbecues, a games room and internet access. The 4.5 hectares of tropical gardens have more than 5000 palms, exotic rock gardens, waterfalls, water features and nature walks.
Rockhampton's restaurants have been facing empty tables. One of the favourites, Cassidy's Seafood and Steakhouse, specialises in the best there is indoors in air-conditioned comfort, or alfresco on a terrace overlooking the river and ranges.
The river was a perilous 20cm from flooding and while everything was moved to higher ground, they were most fortunate that the waters ebbed and blessings were counted, and they would love to serve you!
The Capricorn Coast spans the areas between Keppel Sands to the south, Byfield and Shoalwater Bay to the north and inland to Rockhampton. It's perfectly located halfway between the Sunshine Coast and the Whitsundays. There are beautiful beaches and an average daily temperature of 25°C.
Kelly Landry found some things for families to enjoy, not the least of which was Koorana Saltwater Crocodile Farm. The 113-hectare property has up to 3000 resident crocodiles at any one time, and visitors have a good look at the prehistoric survivors. Under the auspices of the federal government's strategic conservation program, crocodiles are bred for their flesh and skins. The meat is a popular delicacy tasting somewhere between red meat and fish. It is exported to Japan, China and the US.
Seaspray Residential Resort has 17 self-contained, split-level loft apartments made up or two or three bedrooms, and all with balconies. They have fully equipped kitchens, barbecues, tennis courts, two heated pools and lots of walks. Activities include boxercise to belly dancing, swimming lessons and personal training.
It's all surrounded by green hills and you can see the Cocoanut Point headland, national park and wetlands reserve are perfect for nature walks. They support a wide range of ecosystems.
The licensed Coco's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. They have lunch-board specials and pasta and pizza nights from Sunday to Tuesday at 6pm. You can grab something delicious on the run, relax over a coffee or enjoy a freshly made tropical fruit juice.
Yes, Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast want you to put them on your list of places to visit. You will be glad you did!
Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast, an hour's flight north of Brisbane.
Discovery Holiday Parks Rockhampton powered camp and caravan sites start at $30 a night. Motel rooms start at $99 and cabins, villas and chalets from $112.
Koorana Crocodile Farm entry is $22 for adults and $11 for children three years of age and older. A 90-minute fully guided tour is included.
Seaspray Residential Resort villas start at $210 a night for a two-bedroom, fully self-contained two-storey apartment. Three-bedroom apartments are $280 a night. It has a state-of-the-art gymnasium, 25m heated lap pool, heated resort pool and tennis, netball and basketball courts.
Prices correct at April 14, 2011.
For further information
Great Western Hotel
39 Stanley Street
Rockhampton, Queensland 4700
Ph: (07) 4922 1862
Discovery Holiday Park (Big 4)
394 Yaamba Road
Norman Gardens, Queensland 4701
Ph: 1800 815 563
Cassidy's Seafood and Steakhouse
98 Victoria Parade
Rockhampton, Queensland 4700
Ph: (07) 4927 5322
Koorana Crocodile Farm
85 Savages Road
Coowonga, Queensland 4702
Ph: (07) 4934 4749
Seaspray Residential Resort
Cocoanut Point Drive
Zilzie, Queensland 4710
Ph: 1800 077 768
Fax: (07) 4938 7228