In my life I have lived in a number of cities, across most of the states of Australia. I have seldom called any of them home. I have felt that for the most part I was either a visitor, or an outsider. Even Canberra, where I spent most of my formative years, where I purchased my first house, and where my two best friends reside, I still struggled to feel a sense of community. Rockhampton, however, has surpassed that. I moved to Rockhampton in 2014 with my wife, and son. We bought a home, and started to grow roots.
The beginning of any community is those closest to you. I am exceptionally lucky that I have my parents and brother here, as well as my Grandfather, most of my uncles, and last but not least my Sister-in-Law. We found ourselves in one of the local churches and felt immediately at home within the church family. We quickly began to make friends with some of the congregation, and are still friends with them today. We both got jobs and began to settle in. But Rockhampton is more than family and friends.
Rockhampton is more than Beef and Floods, though both of those happen. It is a wonderful city that has all of the benefits of a large city, and none of the draw backs. Traffic in Rockhampton will delay your journey by no more then 5 minutes, and even if you are unlucky enough to be stopped by the train twice, there won’t be a massive addition to the amount of time you will need to travel.
Central Queensland has seen its times of hardship and struggle, and Rockhampton is no different. Whether is has been Cyclones, Flood, Downturns, or mass laying off of staff the people of Rockhampton have struggled. Images like the home above aren’t as commonplace as they once were. New mining contracts, employment opportunities in the regions, stable weather patterns, and general economical improvement has seen these houses fall in a reduction of numbers, instead of increase.
Rockhampton is steeped in history and grandeur, the architecture of the CBD is an excellent reflection of this. The large sandstone blocks, the grand balconies and casements, it is like looking directly into the past as you walk down the street with your latte on the way to work.
A quick stroll through the Rockhampton Cemetery will show you that there have been families here in Rockhampton since the town was first planted. You can see the introduction of vaccines and reduction of childhood deaths. You can see the different faiths and belief reflected in burial practices, tombstones, and words on memorial plates. As a snapshot of the lives of people in Rockhampton, the cemetery shows this.
Every historical building has seen use after use, nothing is left to rot and collapse. The Rockhampton Masonic Temple has seen numerous uses over the years, the obvious original purpose, an office space, and most recently a dance studio. This constant renewal of life ensures these amazing structures are still in place for our children and theirs.
But, not all things that are old need a new purpose. The old Gospel Hall is still to this day being used for exactly what it was designed for. The well maintained building still strikes imagery of old Churches nestled on hill tops, or centred in an old country town. This one is tucked away, unassumingly on the outer edge of our CBD.
When we first moved to Rockhampton my wife couldn’t get over the fact that there were trains rolling down the middle of the road, through the middle of the CBD, in the middle of the day. 5 years on, nothing has changed. The railway which bought much of the life and business to Rockhampton in the early years, still acts as an artery providing much commerce in the way of goods and cattle. I see the train as our own mid street carriage way like Melbourne has her trams.
Similarly the lanes and alley ways are decorated like much of Sydney or Melbourne. They aren’t hate speech, or graven images, just simple artwork from our young and young at heart. The tasteful art is ever changing, walking down this alley in a months time will spring forth new imagery and life, with its time waining just as quickly.
The laneways are not simply an avenue for street art, they are the practical driveway of many a home and business. As such, the laneways see springs of life through hedges, flowers, and ferneries. This life brings forth colour and greenery to an otherwise cold and grey landscape. It also serves to show the individuality of the person who lives in the home, or operates their business from the laneway.
With almost more laneways than Sydney, seemingly, there is no end to what can be found as soon as you round the corner. It is safe to say though that each laneway is full of unheard stories, unmet people, and connections that are yet to made. One of the best things about living in Rockhampton is the sense that if you hang around long enough, you may just get the chance to hear all the stories tucked away in these laneways.
Every city has their special little coffee hole, somewhere where you can unwind, enjoy a lovely cup of coffee, and just recharge. For me and my kin, that place is Gus’. A local chap who started the business with the singleminded goal of making a great coffee, a real “Shot above the rest”. Though everyone around Rockhampton has their own idea of the best coffee; The Two Professors, Stellarosa, Zaraffas, or Coffee Club jut to name a few.
One thing that is probably universally agreed upon is the best fish and chips in town goes to Samo’s Fish Bar. A Friday night can see you waiting for up to an hour for your order, Samo’s is that popular. Their chips are always crisp and hot, the fish looks thick and juicy (I’m allergic so I will say Looks), and the prices are hard to beat. Samo’s is known by almost every person who lives in Rockhampton, and if they haven’t eaten there themselves they know someone who has.
If, however, you would prefer to catch your own fish and prepare them to your personal taste, then Rockhampton is conveniently situated about 30 minutes from Yeppoon and Emu Park, both are great launching platforms for your boating adventure to the Keppels. The diversity of the seafood that is available to the cunning anglers is impressive, an even if you spend the day on the water without so much as a bite, you are surrounded by some of the clearest waters and best views around.
I’ve been around the country a number of times, I have served in the military for five year, and subsequently seen my fair share of War Memorials. Outside of the capital cities I can say, hands down, the memorial at Emu Park is stunning. It captures the moments of the war that some people don’t realise, it honours the memory of those who have gone before us, and has one of the most beautiful memorial pieces I have ever seen. At the right angle, the above photographed sits in just a way that the ships and men appear as though they are storming the beach of Emu Park.
The great things about Rockhampton, Rockhampton being a regional centre, a small town feel with the big town attractions, a town of classical values, a town that believes in bettering itself, a town that hangs onto traditions, its a town everyone can call home. From my back yard to yours, I encourage you to stop in and share a steak, at the Beef Capital of Australia, Rockhampton.
Maintain the Rage