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Geography of the Capricorn Coast

Map of the Capricorn Coast, Central Queensland, AustraliaThe Capricorn Coast is a stretch of idyllic seaside communities approximately 200 kilometres from end to end.

The region fringes the city of Rockhampton in Central Queensland, and features 27 tropical islands, shallow bays, and long sweeping beaches dotted with rock formations and promontories from the regions's volcanic past.

The coastal sand is fine grained, and inland, the rich soil lends itself well to crops and fruit growing.  Wooded hills and stretches of grassy flatlands provide ample grazing for the growing cattle industry in the region.

Beyond the towns, much of the Capricorn Coast is still in the same pristine state as two centuries ago before the first Europeans arrived.  Around Shoalwater, Stanage, and Byfield, enormous swathes of rainforest dominate the landscape.

The region is undergoing its greatest period of growth on the back of the mining boom, with new estates developing rapidly around the two principal towns, Yeppoon and Emu Park.

Yeppoon and Emu Park are joined by the Scenic Highway which hugs a coastline dotted with coves, and the Western Yeppoon-Emu Park Road (Tanby Road South) also links the towns.

Further south, separated by the expansive body of Coorooman Creek, lies Keppel Sands. While the township is small, Keppel Sands' relative isolation provides a central community centre for residents who live in the nearby centres of Joskeleigh, Coowonga, Tungamull, Coorooman, and Cawarral.

Directly offshore and visible from most points on the Capricorn Coast is the popular tourist island, Great Keppel Island. Dozens of smaller islands, shoals, and atolls also dot the coastline.

Looking Across Cooee Bay to Yeppoon and The Bluff
Cooee Bay
Savoy Theatre at Keppel Sands, Capricorn Coast
Keppel Sands
Sunrise over Kemp Beach, Capricorn Coast
Kemp Beach
Causeway Lake, Capricorn Coast
Causeway Lake

Sub-regions

Due to the size of the Capricorn Coast, its geography and demographics vary greatly, however the region has four distinct sections:

Northern - very low density population, wetlands, rainforests, large swathes of protected areas;
Central - major population areas, beaches, urban, and semi-rural;
Southern - low population, beaches, tidal flats, rural, village-type communities;
Offshore - Islands beyond the mainland coves; very low population, tourism and conservation.

Capricorn Coast - Northern Region

North of Yeppoon, the geography subtly begins to change. Beyond the beaches and bays, flat pastures give way to rolling hillocks, then mountains, and then majestic ranges and streams.

  • Barmaryee - growing semi-rural area and township off the Rockhampton Road.
  • Bungundarra - rural district just west of Yeppoon with rolling hills and beautiful landscapes.
  • Byfield - artistic community in pine forests and natural mountain streams.
  • Byfield National Park - pristine wilderness reserve surrounding the town of Byfield.
  • Cooberie - midway between Yeppoon and Byfield, home to Cooberie Park Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Corbett's Landing - keen fishing spot and boat ramp for the brave of heart.
  • Corio Bay - popular camping and fishing spot on a broad inlet, very picturesque, 4WD access.
  • Five Rocks - very popular camping and 4WDing beach.
  • Inverness - picturesque rural and semi-rural community in the Yeppoon hinterlands.
  • Iwasaki Wetlands - massive bird and wildlife habitat surrounding Capricorn Resort.
  • Kelly's Landing - fishing area north of Farnborough, 4WD access.
  • Lake Mary - rural community, largely grazing, in the Byfield hinterlands.
  • Mount Barmoya - mountain in the Yeppoon hinterlands.
  • Red Rock - beautiful camping ground amongst towering pines on the bank of Stoney Creek.
  • Sandy Point - accessible through the wetlands, popular fishing spot, 4WD access, long endless beach.
  • Shoalwater Bay - military training area and conservation zone under management of the army.
  • Stanage Bay - northern township at the end of the Capricorn Coast with breathtaking views.
  • Stockyard - difficult to access fishing spot on the edge of Byfield National Park.
  • Townshend Island - pristine wilderness, part of Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.
  • Upper Stoney Creek - very popular camping grounds with freshwater creek and forest walks.
  • Waterpark Creek - crystal clear mountain streams, camping grounds, and rainforest walks.
  • Woodbury - ural district, rolling hills with wetlands.
Keppel Bay from Wreck Point
Keppel Bay
Environmental Park backing on to Joskeleigh
Joskeleigh
Kemp Beach Yeppoon at sunrise
Kemp Beach
Lammermoor Beach
Lammermoor Beach

Capricorn Coast - Central Region

Forty kilometres of long sweeping beaches and shallow coves grace the Central Capricorn Coast, from the Iwasaki Wetlands in the north to the prestigious Zilzie Bay Resort in the south. Dotted along the way are a dozen seaside communities and the major towns of Yeppoon and Emu Park. This stretch of coastal road is regarded as one of the most beautiful tourist drives in Australia.

  • Adelaide Park - urban area that abuts Yeppoon, rising up to the hills leading into Bungundarra.
  • Bangalee - long beach with low dunes and soft sand between Yeppoon and Capricorn Resort.
  • Barlows Hill - hillside suburb of Yeppoon overlooking the township and Keppel Bay.
  • Bluff Point - national park between Mulambin and Kemp Beaches.
  • Bluff Rock - bay reef island off Kemp Beach, popular for fishing and kayaking.
  • Bondoola - semi rural district near Yeppoon with golf course along Rockhampton Road.
  • Capricorn Coast National Park - trails and native land, includes Bluff Point and Pinnacle Point.
  • Causeway Lake - wide lake popular with families midway between Yeppoon and Emu Park.
  • Cooee Bay - across Ross Creek from Yeppoon, a charming community by the bay.
  • Creek Rock - bay island off the promontory between Kinka Beach and Mulambin Beach.
  • Emu Park - the second biggest town on the Capricorn Coast, spectacular beaches.
  • Farnborough - rural seaside community on Yeppoon's northern fringe.
  • Hidden Valley - semi rural community on the western Yeppoon outskirts in mountain setting.
  • Kemp Beach - popular beach between Yeppoon & Emu Park, picnic areas and walking trails.
  • Keppel Bay Estate - newer residential suburb, south of Yeppoon along Tanby Road South.
  • Kinka Beach - upmarket urban semi-rural locality between Causeway Lakes and Emu Park.
  • Lammermoor Beach - popular area with sweeping beach and rock formations.
  • Meikleville Hill - hillside suburb of Yeppoon overlooking the township and Keppel Bay.
  • Mercure Capricorn Resort - the famous Iwasaki Resort, with thousands of hectares of wetlands.
  • Mulambin Beach - shallow beach between two bluffs, the most pictured on the Capricorn Coast.
  • Mulambin Waters - new residential estate behind Mulambin Beach, backs onto Causeway Lake.
  • Ocean View Estate - hilltop suburb of Yeppoon overlooking the town and Keppel Bay Islands.
  • Pacific Heights - newer residential suburb in northern Yeppoon set above Farnborough Beach.
  • Pinnacle Point - national park between Mulambin Beach and Causeway Lake.
  • Rita Mada - promontory and beaches between Kinka Beach and Tanby Point.
  • Ross Creek - also called Yeppoon Inlet, Ross Creek is an important conservation reserve.
  • Rosslyn - newer upmarket suburb above Statue Bay, and overlooking Rosslyn Bay.
  • Rosslyn Bay - 400 berth Keppel Bay Marina, departure point for Great Keppel Island.
  • Statue Bay - peacful fishing beach and hideaway sheltered from the wind by Rosslyn Bay.
  • Tanby Point - promontory and beaches between Kinka Beach and Emu Park.
  • Taranganba - the first settlement in the Yeppoon district, backs on to Ross Creek.
  • Taroomball - urban semi-rural district south of Yeppoon, rapidly growing area.
  • Yeppoon - the 'capital' of the Capricorn Coast with services that rival larger towns.
  • Wreck Point - scenic lookout between Cooee Bay and Lammermoor with views of Keppel Bay and Byfield.
  • Zilzie - township south of Emu Park undergoing massive development in a resort environment.
Byfield Forest
Byfield
Sunrise over Rosslyn Bay
Rosslyn Bay
Woodbury Wetlands
Woodbury Wetlands
Fisherman's Beach, Cooee Bay
Cooee Bay

Capricorn Coast - Southern Region

The truly charming end of the Capricorn Coast, the southern end is like stepping back in time. Nestled between the major waterways of Coorooman Creek and the Fitzroy River, the towns and communities around Keppel Sands and Cawarral depend on fruit growing and fishing, and are popular with city dwellers who want to get away from it all.

  • Broadmount - large rural grasslands and rolling hills fronting the Fitzroy River
  • Cawarral - 1  2  historic semi-rural district founded on gold mining, pineapples and fruit growing.
  • Coorooman - rural area between Cawarral and Tanby.
  • Coorooman Creek - broad-mouthed estuary stretching from Keppel Sands & Zilzie to Cawarral.
  • Coowonga - beautiful hilly region with rural properties sweeping down to Coorooman Creek.
  • Girt Island - small bay island near the mouth of Pumpkin Creek accessible by foot at low tide.
  • Hedlow - rural flatlands, predominantly grazing, between Yeppoon and Rockhampton.
  • Ironpot - peaceful rural community along Limestone Creek on Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road.
  • Joskeleigh - historic seaside rural community, home to many South Sea Islanders.
  • Keppel Sands - charming township on the southern end of the Capricorn Coast.
  • Long Beach - pristine coastline with a ghostly beach forest where it meets the Fitzroy River.
  • Mount Chalmers - historic gold and copper town set in beautiful hills along Nankin Creek.
  • Pumpkin Creek - popular fishing estuary at the south bluff at Keppel Sands.
  • Quartz Rock - inner bay island, popular fishing spot.
  • Tanby - semi-rural community set against tall mountain range between Yeppoon and Emu Park.
  • Tungamull - wooded rural district between Cawarral and Keppel Sands.
  • Thompson's Point - on the Fitzroy River, home to large US military base during World War II.
Ross Creek Yeppoon
Ross Creek
The Causeway
Pinnacle Point
Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island
Bluff Point, Capricorn Coast National Park
Bluff Point

Offshore Islands

Islands, atolls, and localities in the bays of the Capricorn Coast are:

  • Arch Rock
  • Conical Rocks
  • Corroberee Island
  • Entrance Rocks
  • Flat Rock
  • Great Keppel Island 1 
  • Half Tide Rocks
  • Keppel Bay Islands National Park
    • Pelican Island
    • Divided Island
    • Conical Island
    • Halfway Island
    • Humpy Island
    • Miall Island
    • North Keppel Island
  • Middle Island
  • Peak Island
  • Man and Wife Rocks
  • Mother Macgregor Island
  • Outer Rocks
  • Pelican Rock
  • Pumpkin Island
  • Round Rock
  • Sloping Island
  • Split Rock
  • Square Rocks
  • Wedge Island 1  2 

Suggested further reading:

- Capricorn Coast Photos
- History of Rockhampton - The Darumbal Tribes
- History of Rockhampton - Early Settlement
- History of the Capricorn Coast - Early Settlement
- History of the Capricorn Coast - Coming of the Railway

 Return to Local History index page 


Andrew Thompson

Written by Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson is an artist, author, businessman, science nerd, and social commentator based in Queensland, Australia.

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