Rockhampton | A Free Zoo, Botanic Gardens and a moody Ranger

Free Zoo and Botanic Gardens Rockhampton
Looking for Tropical Birds

After we left Cape Hillsborough to see the kangaroos on the beach, we drove straight to Rockhampton with a few stops along the way.

Our plan was to stay the night in Rockhampton at the Kershaw Gardens, a free campground we found on WikiCamps, located in the center of Rockhampton close to a massive shopping mall and restaurants.

We knew there was some controversy about camping in Rockhampton and by many called the unfriendliest place for campers in Australia.

We are members of a few camping in Australia Facebook groups with over 300k members, where we share our knowledge, and gain information and advise. Many people in there weren’t impressed with Rockhampton and it’s behavior towards the ( free ) camping community.

As we always like to form our own opinions we were open-minded about it and just decided to go and see for ourselves.

So when we arrived early in the afternoon we were the only ones at the Kershaw Gardens in Rockhampton. There was a sign which stated maximum camping 48hr and you needed to be self-sufficient, which we are.

We ‘ve got our own toilet on board, but we don’t have a shower or water thank, as we shower along the way to support local pubs or petrol stations or shower at the beach, public splash parks or amenities.

We brush our teeth or splash our face with water from a bottle, which we catch up with a bucket and throw in our portaloo. Completely self-sufficient and we don’t waste any rubbish in nature.

So, after we set up, we went to some shops, have some food, had a drink, showed Sem the inside of the massive cinema in Rockhampton and went back to the Caravan as a massive storm was predicted so we wanted to be there before it would hit.

Then this Tosser of a Ranger shows up

So we were about to sit down and relax for a bit, as we had a big and tiring day. Then all of a sudden this cranky and rude Ranger with a massive attitude, thinking he could learn us a lesson ( and loves doing so ) rocks up.

The conversation went like this :

Ranger: Hello there. Did you see that sign when you came in?

We: Yes we did.

Ranger: What does it say?

We: That you can stay maximum 48 hours and you need to be self-sufficient.

Ranger: And what do you think self-sufficient means?

We: Well, having your own toilet and a solution for your grey water.

Ranger: And what about a shower?

We: We don’t have a shower as we shower along the way wherever we can.

Ranger: But what if you need a shower?

We: We don’t need a shower and obviously can’t take one if we don’t have one do we?

Ranger: Hm…And do you have an enclosed grey tank for doing dishes and stuff ( He was obviously looking to get us on something )

We: Yes, we use our grey waste tank, our portable toilet.

Ranger:  Hmm Do you mind if I take a look around?

We: No worries.

Ranger: Which country are you from?

We: ???!!! We are from Australia, Why? ( Completely off topic and what the heck does it matter anyway?)

Ranger: Where in Australia?

We: Well we are currently living on the road in our caravan, so we don’t have a solid address.

Ranger: Then he walked to his car and got his camera. He showed a picture of a guy throwing a bucket of water over the grass and told us the guy was fined for it.

We: We wouldn’t do that as we don’t have any wastewater at all, apart from teeth brushing, which we trow from our waste bucket into the portable loo, which is our grey water solution.

Ranger: Well, Sorry guys, you can’t stay here as you need to have a grey tank underneath your vehicle.

In other words: This Kershaw Gardens Campground is just a joke and this Ass*%$ sends us at 17.30 without any reason away. Big thunderstorm coming, a kid who is about to have dinner have to go back into the car. We are tired and had a drink. Well done!

A backpacker’s Van without any self-sufficiency and where people have to piss in the bush, Ok, we get that, but this… No wonder Rockhampton has a bad name under campers and that many of them avoid Rockhampton as a place to stay. Shame, as local businesses miss out on opportunities and Rockhampton has some great things on offer.

Then, to ease the pain, he comes up with this other free camp, which wasn’t known by many people as an alternative, so after we packed up our stuff we went there, but soon we figured why no-one knows this place and it’s not on WikiCamps.

Turns out it’s not even a camp area but just a side of the road next to a river in the middle of nowhere on an industrial dump area. A place where people doing dark business from the trunk of their cars. Hell no that we would spend the night there in that dump!

So we looked at Wiki Camps and the closest place to safely stay the night was 26 kilometer South of Rockhampton at a BP Roadhouse.

26 kilometer is nothing, especially not in Australian kilometers, but we saw the sky becoming more and more dramatic and thunder was coming closer and closer.

Not long after we were in the middle of a massive downpour with Thunder everywhere. Great if you tow a caravan, the road South of Rockhampton is in dramatically bad condition and having roadworks done, you are all hangry and it’s getting dark. All because of that bloody tosser.

But Karma was on our way and we got rewarded with a stunning sunset, dramatic skies and lightning all over the place, and the BP Roadhouse was a good little place to spend the night with friendly people, great food and a shower ( not really clean and the pressure in the lady’s shower was not really suitable to wash your long hair with, but doable )

Visiting the Free Zoo in Rockhampton

We had a good night sleep and the next day we drove back to Rockhampton, which left a bit of a sour taste in our mouths.

But we wanted to visit the Free zoo in Rockhampton, as Sem would love it, and friends of us had been there and it was supposed to be a fun place to go.

And that it definitely is. We arrived early in the morning and as soon as we drove through the gates into the parking lot we discovered we were the first to arrive.

We were lucky they opened up at 8, as we didn’t check the opening times upfront. We just drove off with the plan that we wanted to see the Free zo in Rockhampton and the Botanical Gardens.

The Rockhampton zoo is nestled within the Botanic Gardens and adjacent to the Murray Lagoon. There are over 50 species of native Australian and exotic animals from around the world.

There is a wide variety of birds, monkeys, koala’s, dingo’s, lizards, crocodiles, wombats, emus and kangaroos you can interact with.

The first animals we checked out where the Chimpanzees. Sem interacted with one of them instantly, which caused funny scenes. He wanted to show the real Chimpanzee a picture of the chimpanzee on the photo of the map 🙂 So cute!

A little later, a lovely staff member of the zoo named Mark greeted us very friendly. He told us all about the Chimpanzees and the Free Rockhampton Zoo. He had great knowledge and he was very passionate about what he was doing. He really added to the great zoo experience.

Then we went to the birds, but Sem wasn’t very amused with them as he still has a trauma from a bird feeding moment at our Airlie Beach Caravan Park a little while ago, when one of the birds landed on his head.

Let’s say that apart from Ducks, Cockatoos on a safe distance and the birds from his favorite movie Rio, birds are not Semmies favorite animals 😉

He loved seeing a koala for the first time, the kangaroos and of course the crocs.

The Rockhampton Zoo is definitely great to add to your itinerary when you travel with your family through Rockhampton. It’s Free, and quite small, so with an hour or so you can walk through it.

Visit the Botanic Gardens in Rockhampton

Another great thing is that it’s nestled within the Botanic Gardens, which are also definitely worth a visit.

The Rockhampton Botanic Gardens are amongst the oldest public gardens in Queensland but are beautifully maintained.

There are Banyan figs from the rainforest of India, Japanese Gardens where you can find tranquility and peace, a Tropical Fruit Arboretum with some of the world’s most exotic and unusual fruits and the Colonial Experimentation Gardens which feature a living relic of Queensland in the 19th century.

At the Gardens Tearooms, which are nestled under the 150-year-old Banyan Figs you can order a range of meals, drinks, and coffee ( which was not so good – I should have checked out the coffee machine BEFORE  I ordered – But we loved the Arty Coffee Mugs.

There is also a massive playground with equipment suitable for every age, so a great place to wander around for a while with the whole family.

After checking out the Botanical Gardens and the Free Zoo in Rockhampton early in the morning we went on to Yeppoon to check out their amazing water splash park. Read about it here.

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  • Hi Marion.
    Great to hear from you 🙂
    Hope everything is ok at your beautiful accommodation in the Daintree Rainforest.
    It’s over a year ago we stayed at your place, and we have great memories of it.
    Sem is growing into a big fella, and he loves being on tour again 🙂
    Hope you have a wonderful 2018 and a lovely season ahead!
    Jo, Lion and Sem

  • Hi Campers! Been thinking of you just the other day and here is one of your posts! ‘Little’ Sem is growing alright!
    Wishing you great adventures on your current tour.
    Marion, Cow Bay Homestay B&B, Cow Bay, Daintree !

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