Let me start off by saying that, I have lived in Central Queensland all my life…so most of what you are about to read may seem a little biased. I am a landscape photographer and I have seen my fair share of Australia (with still plenty left to see) and I sometimes wonder why a region like the Capricorn Coast isn’t overrun with tourists.
In my opinion, it’s one of the best kept secrets in Australia. A lot of the locals probably like it that way and sometimes I feel the same. However when something is this great, it would be kind of selfish not to share.
So if you want to hang around a little longer, I’ll show you some of my favourite spots from the reef to the outback and perhaps entice you to come and visit the Capricorn region on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Great Keppel Island
Some of you may remember Great Keppel from it’s heyday with the much publicised ‘Get Wrecked’ campaign from the 80’s.
Things have slowed down on the island since then but it’s beauty and serenity still remain. It has arguably some of the best beaches on the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the great part is, there is 17 of them so chances are you can have one all to yourself.
For some spectacular views, you’ll want to try the walk to the top of Mount Wyndham or if you are keen for snorkelling, head on over to Monkey Beach.
Capricorn Coast gateway
The Capricorn Coast is the gateway to the Keppel Islands and the central hub back on the mainland is Yeppoon.
Yeppoon is the main tourist hotspot on the coast and a hive of activity however it still manages to keep that seaside village feel and boasts some amazing boutique coffee shops.
There is nothing better than coming up off the beach after shooting the sunrise to grab a large cappuccino and check out all the latest posts on Instagram.
The best sunrise locations are The Bluff or Rosslyn Bay at the northern end of Kemp Beach.
Byfield State Forest
Byfield is a great location for a day trip with the family. You’ll find a number of freshwater creeks surrounded by rainforest with picturesque recreation areas and camping available.
Stony Creek is the perfect place to cool off in summer and if you are a lover of art, you can’t go past the amazing works at Nob Creek Pottery.
If you get the munchies while you’re up there, you must visit Ferns Hideaway. The Restaurant is open for lunch Friday, Saturday & Sunday and dinner Saturday night.
If you are visiting Rockhampton, you are in the beef capital of Australia, so it is customary to eat at least one steak while you are here. One thing I love about Rockhampton is the dining options available, so you will be spoilt for choice when you’re trying to find that ultimate steak.
If you are going to be staying in town, my suggestion would be to check out some of the apartment buildings on the south bank. Their views over the Fitzroy River at dusk are simply stunning.
My insider tip for Rockhampton would be to go for a drive to Hedlow Creek. It’s a bit of a local secret but you seem trustworthy so I’ll let you in on it.
It’s actually so much of a secret that I didn’t even know about it until about 2 years ago (and I’ve lived here all my life)! Hedlow Creek is located approximately 25kms north-east of Rockhampton.
It is an area surrounded by 12 trachyte plugs (internal remnants of a long extinct volcanos). The vast areas in between these mountains are very flat and filled with grassy plains and wetlands.
There is only one dirt road through the middle of this area and for the majority of the time you won’t see another car. Sunrise has always been my favourite time to visit as the morning sun bathes the grassy fields in golden light.
Blackdown Tableland National Park
Moving west, my next top spot is Blackdown Tableland National Park. While driving along the Capricorn Highway, you will see Blackdown long before you reach the turn off. It is a massive sandstone plateau that rises abruptly out of the flat plains surrounding it.
In amongst the rugged cliffs you will find deep gorges and plunging waterfalls with some great swimming holes such as the pool at the base of Rainbow Falls.
The walk to the falls is approx 4km return with 240 stairs leading down to the pool. Don’t let that scare you off though as the walk is very picturesque and the prize at the end is well worth it.
For the grand finale, I give you Carnarvon Gorge! This is a location that should be on every landscape photographer’s bucket list.
One of the many great things about Carnarvon is that there are so many scenes within the epic landscape itself.
There are towering cliffs all around….and down below are the tiny unassuming streams and plants that help make the entire experience so enchanting. I could easily get lost here for days with my camera.
Mickey Creek is one of my favourite walks at Carnarvon and strangely enough, also one of the shortest (1.2km). The great thing is you can walk as little or as much as you want and you will still be able to experience the grandeur that Carnarvon is known for.
The Gorge is also a great place to see a variety of wildlife, with over 173 bird species inhabiting the area and other native animals such as platypus, kangaroos and king parrots.
So I may be biased…and this is only a brief introduction, but hopefully its been enough to attract your interest in the Capricorn Coast region on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Now that you know how great it is, I’ll be expecting to see you here on your next holiday.