I've lived in the small coastal town of Yeppoon for 12 years now. Over that time, I’ve seen this small town grow and change from a rather sleepy seaside central Queensland town into a vibrant and diverse community. Unfortunately, there's an ongoing argument from locals that there's nothing to do here, but I totally disagree. Not only are there heaps of things to do in Yeppoon, most of them are free or dirt cheap. With our tight budget and ‘make-do' philosophy, it's important we don't blow our budget each weekend; however, we still find more than enough free or fun things to do in Yeppoon. So I thought I'd share my list of our favourite free, easy or insanely inexpensive activities to do here.
Whether you’re just passing through on your way around Australia, or a local looking for something to do to entertain the kids over school holidays, here’s a few ideas that will help you decide what to do in Yeppoon.
- Get soaked by the Keppel Kraken
- Play on the beaches
- See the views from Bluff Point and Double Head
- Let the kids go wild at a playground
- Visit the local markets
- Join a community group or activity at the Community Development Centre
- Get creative at an art workshop
- Browse the local library
- Enjoy one of Yeppoon's Festivals
- Run, walk or cycle the Pineapple Rail Trail
- Get active at the Yeppoon Triathlon or Running festivals
- Cool off at the Yeppoon Aquatic Centre
- Learn to sail at the Keppel Bay Sailing Club
- Have a cheap feed at The Spinnaker
- Discover Yeppoon's best coffee
- Enjoy morning tea at Tanby Garden Centre
- Unwind with a cold beer at The Strand or Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club
If you're planning to holiday here, I've also included a run-down of great places to stay in Yeppoon, how to get here as well as what facilities you can expect (such as shopping centres, pharmacies and hospitals). You can use the links below to quickly scroll to those sections of this post.
1. Keppel Kraken water play area
This free water play area is a huge hit with local families and it’s conveniently situated on the main beachfront on Anzac Parade, overlooking Great Keppel Island. It’s impossible to miss this free attraction — with its enormous orange mosaic tentacles reaching up to the sky, and tentacle arches showering everyone. Big and little kids alike adore playing here and the waterpark is open every day during the school holidays from 9am until 7pm. During school term it closes on Tuesdays for maintenance. We particularly enjoy having family dinners of fish and chips at the large picnic tables during Yeppoon’s humid, hot summer evenings.
A word of caution: The Keppel Kraken water play area is not completely covered with soft-fall mat, and there are many concrete surfaces that get covered in water. Although the concrete is anti-slip, larger kids can and do run amok here and can easily knock little ones over. There is no gate preventing kids from accessing the road and there are some deeper pools in one part — so, as with any activities around water– close supervision of your kids is essential.
2. Play on the beaches
Look, there are plenty of more beautiful beaches in other parts of Queensland, and Australia for that matter, so I’m not going to tell you that we have the best beaches, because we don’t. What we do have though, is broad flat beaches at low tide, which are perfect for kite buggying, beach cricket, soccer and for building sand castles. What makes them so very good for that, you ask? No people! That’s right — our beaches are long and the few people that use them are often super spread-out so there’s no fear of the beaches ever being too crowded!
Also, Yeppoon’s beaches are protected by Keppel Bay and the Great Barrier Reef, so we don’t have surf. That means the ocean is usually quite calm and there are rarely dangerous surf conditions. This means it’s usually okay to let you little ones paddle at the water’s edge. If you want to go swimming, it's a good idea to always swim between the flags at Yeppoon's patrolled section on Main Beach.
We’ve also got plenty of rock pools worth exploring on low tides, so definitely make some time to investigate the sea life in the rock pools — kids LOVE it! Just remember not to touch any marine animals as some marine life here can be deadly.
A word of caution: we get dangerous marine stingers in the water here. They occur during the warmer months from October to March but can be present all year round. Consider wearing a stinger suit if going swimming and it's essential to know how to treat marine stings.
3. Marvel at the views from Bluff Point and Double Head
Both Bluff Point and Double Head are part of Capricorn Coast National Park, although they are not joined. Bluff Point is on the southern end of Kemp Beach and has a terrific low-key picnic area at the bottom of the circuit track, complete with picnic tables and a toilet. The track is a 2.3 km circuit, and we recommend travelling in an anti-clockwise direction. This is because it starts off slowly and gently, travelling through some lovely coastal vine thickets and dry rainforest before heading up the exposed hill and across coastal heath. The views from this part of the circuit are truly spectacular, especially during winter when the ocean is calm and flat and blue, and the sky doesn’t have a single cloud in it. The circuit then comes down to two closely spaced lookouts: Turtle Lookout and Rita Mada Lookout. Turtle Lookout is the best for spotting green turtles feeding around the rocks below, though you can often spot a few from Rita Mada Lookout too. In fact, I’ve never been to these lookouts and not seen a turtle or four! There are many rough, steep steps that will return you to the picnic area, hence why we don’t recommend walking this circuit in the clockwise direction: it’s tough going, particularly in Summer! The Bluff Point circuit is also not suitable for those with mobility challenges or strollers.
The Double Head walking track is a much shorter, but equally steep, track and is not a circuit. Again, this track leads to two lookouts. The first overlooks Fan Rock, a striking geological formation, which was formed as a volcano spout cooled slowly. The second lookout is an easy and flat walk from the first lookout, and overlooks the marina and Yeppoon. Both offer stunning and unexpected views and are fairly short and easy-ish up-hill walks.
Remember when walking both of these tracks that you’re visiting a national park and some rules, such as not bringing your dog into the park, apply. They are natural areas and have some hazards, such as cliff faces and wildlife such as snakes. So be careful and keep a close eye on your kids!
4. Let the kids go crazy at a playground
Yeppoon has some great, yet small, playgrounds scattered throughout the town. Appleton Park is an all-abilities playground, with a liberty swing, and no slippery slides, so kids with mobility challenges don’t miss out. A section of this park is designed like roadways, with intersections, pedestrian crossings and road signs, which are suitable for bike riding, or scooting around on a trike or scooter. The paths are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, too. My favourite bit about Appleton park is that it is fully fenced, with a large roof providing shade as well as shelter when it’s raining. It’s a great place all year-round and I can relax, knowing that my kid can’t easily escape!
Appleton Park is not the only park that is fully fenced in Yeppoon. The Bluff park, on Farnborough Road just north of Yeppoon is also fenced and has a large roof covering the entire playground. It is right on the beach, with sand instead of softfall, so it’s not suitable for kids with mobility issues. There’s plenty of equipment to climb on, and a small flying fox.
5. Visit the local markets
One of our favourite weekend activities is to visit one of Yeppoon’s local markets. Our two main markets are the Yeppoon Community Markets held every Saturday morning from 6am until 9am at the Yeppoon Showgrounds on Braithwaite Street, and the Fig Tree Markets held on the first Sunday of every month at Merv Anderson Park on the Scenic Highway.
The Yeppoon Community Markets are primarily a farmers market, with an abundance of inexpensive and locally grown produce on offer. Locally grown fruit and vegetables are highly seasonal, with late summer being a bountiful time to pick up bargains on tropical fruit such as mangoes, lychees, longans and dragonfruit. In winter, citrus is crazy-abundant, with very cheap oranges and mandarins available, along with whatever else is in season.
The Fig Tree Markets are our favourite handmade markets, and you can read why here. They are the best place to pick up some original artwork from locally well-known artists such as Jet James and Samuel J, among others. There are often many food vendors too, selling everything from homemade cakes and jams, to fresh hot donuts (my husband’s fave) and handpicked teas. Ruby Caravan is a fixture of the Fig Tree Creek markets, with her cheery vintage styling, fresh espresso coffee and delectable sweet treats. If you’re lucky, Rachel (Ruby’s owner) may also have her famous homemade lemonade or raspberry juice available. There is usually a jumping castle ($5 per child, for however long your kid wants to stay jumping 😉 ), lucky ducks game and sometimes even camel or train rides.
6. Join a community group or activity at the Community Development Centre
The Community Development Centre (CDC) at 80 John Street is home to a number of informal and incorporated community groups, as well as providing a space for non-profit and social welfare organisations to meet. It’s home to groups such as the University of the Third Age (U3A), our local community radio station Radio 4NAG, the Keppel Coast Photography Club, Toastmasters and Envirolink. It has a fenced and shaded playground adjoining some of the rooms, as well as a big garage for messier activities such as art workshops or tai chi classes.
The CDC is funded by our local council, and is free to use, so you can participate in low-cost workshops, activities or use the space to run your own workshop or community group – the possibilities are endless! I’m a big fan of the Yeppoon Sewing Circle, who meet on Tuesdays from about 6pm onwards. It’s a free, informal group so there are no membership fees. Full disclosure: I’m a founding member and have barely missed a Tuesday night spent stitching with some of the funniest, kindest and most helpful ladies I’ve had the pleasure of meeting! You’re very welcome to join us too 🙂
Contact the CDCon 4913 3840 or click here for more information and how to get involved.
7. Get creative at a Mill Gallery art workshop
Thanks to funding from the Queensland Regional Arts Development Fund and our local council, some of our best local artists run weekend art workshops throughout the year. I’ve been lucky enough to participate in some printmaking and book binding workshops with Peta Lloyd, and there are often textile and felt making workshops with Anni Simmons as well. Of course, these aren’t the only workshops on offer as they change each season, and some cater to younger kids, older kids, or just the kids at heart. Visit The Mill Gallery’s website to find out when the next workshops are scheduled, and their cost (although, thanks to funding, they are very inexpensive).
8. Borrow a book from the Yeppoon Library
The Yeppoon Library is located at 84 John Street, which is just a few streets back from Yeppoon’s main street, James Street. Our local library might be fairly small, especially in comparison to urban libraries in larger cities such as Brisbane, but it sure makes up for it in the variety it has on offer. Livingstone Shire Council Libraries offer an early literacy program for young children each fortnight, as well as hosting a free knitting group for adults each Wednesday. Click here for more information.
Far from limiting their collection to just books, they also have audio books, games, toys, movies and computer games for Wii, XBox and Playstation all available for loan. The best thing is, you don’t need to be a Livingstone resident to be a member. All you need is photo ID such as your drivers licence and a utility bill in your own name showing your home address. This makes it perfect if you’re visiting Yeppoon and the weather is less than stellar!
9. Enjoy one of Yeppoon's festivals
Yeppoon has three major arts-type festivals each year. The first one is our local agricultural show, and is one of my favourite weekends of the year. The Yeppoon Show is quite tiny and a throwback to Yeppoon’s agricultural history. It runs for two days over a June weekend, and there’s a big fireworks display on the Saturday night. As it’s in winter, don’t forget to rug up and you’ll often see lots of the local kidlets enjoying the fireworks in their pyjamas. The Yeppoon Show has all the rides and showbags you’d expect from any local agricultural show, but I believe it has a better atmosphere because it is such a small, friendly and local show. It’s also not as expensive as other large agricultural shows such as the Ekka or the Rockhampton Show.
Our local Lions Club runs Pinefest over an entire October weekend. It has a big street parade with floats, and there are plenty of fundraisers for local charities such as Pinefest Ambassador events leading up to the big day. There's also another fireworks show on the Saturday night. Pinefest celebrates Yeppoon’s main agricutural crop: pineapples! It’s a lot of fun!
Lastly, the Village Festival is a big music and arts festival held over three days in August, and it’s FREE! Past festivals have attracted major headline acts such as Pete Murray and local boys made big Busby Marou. All performers have a couple of sets over the weekend. Best of all, the whole festival won’t cost you a cent to watch! It’s a huge weekend here and I highly recommend it.
Australia Day celebrations are also a big day for Yeppoon, and again feature plenty of free entertainment plus a craft market, food trucks and rides. It’s worth bringing the kids down for the morning but as the day wears on, it not only gets uncomfortably hot and humid, I find there’s just a bit too much public drunkeness and too many boofheads to be an enjoyable family activity.
10. Walk, run or ride the Pineapple Rail Trail
When I first moved to Yeppoon, back in 2005, we still had a railway line connecting Rockhampton to Yeppoon; although train services had stopped the year before. Once the railway lines were removed though, our local council had the foresight to turn the track into a trail suitable for lots of activities and abilities. It’s a wide, bitumen-sealed track that runs about 4.5 km one-way from Braithwaite Street (near Coles) all the way up past the Yeppoon Golf Club to Yeppoon Road. There are three bridges, a causeway, and two road crossings to be aware of if you’re planning to travel the whole trail.
The rail trail is great for running, walking your dog or cycling as a family. It runs behind houses and through some great bushland patches. It also has a fairly gentle incline (because it was once a train line, so the incline couldn’t be very steep). I really, really love running along this trail, as it’s well-maintained and the long gentle incline provides a nice but achievable challenge when I’m running. There are usually a few people along the trail so I don’t feel too isolated either. I think this trail is the most beautiful in the late afternoon in winter, as it’s cool but not cold and the golden afternoon light really highlights the beauty of the bushland.
I’ve seen plenty of cool wildlife while on the track, and the occasional snake too — but don’t worry as they quickly disappear as soon as I get near. If you’re worried though, it’s a good idea to take a mobile phone with you, so you can contact someone in case of emergency.
11. Get active at Yeppoon Triathlon Festival or Yeppoon Running Festival
We’ve got plenty of different events right throughout the year, from active events such as the Yeppoon Triathlon Festival, various fun runs and the Yeppoon Running Festival, to more sedate and musical events such as the Village Festival I mentioned earlier.
The Yeppoon Triathlon Festival and its little sister, the Yeppoon Running Festival are terrific events that have been growing in popularity over the years. The triathlon festival runs over the weekend of 5-6 August, and there are many event options for every family member. The main event is held on the Sunday morning, and is an Olympic distance triathlon — which starts with a 1.5km ocean swim, 40km bike run and finishes with a 10km run.
Yeppoon Running Festival is held over the Queens Birthday long weekend in October, which happens to be the last weekend of the spring school holidays and also the same day as the NRL Grand Final. There are many distances to choose from. If you’re feeling fit and up to the challenge, you can run the flattest half marathon in the state (and hence one of the fastest) or you and your family can run together in the 1.6km dash. It’s up to you. The best bit though? After you’ve done your run, you can duck over for a coffee at one of the coffee shops along Anzac Parade, or even have a cold beer at The Strand for lunch. Lastly – the run is all done and dusted early in the day, with time for a nap before the footy kicks off that afternoon. The next day is the Queen’s Birthday public holiday — so you’ve got a whole day to recover!
12. Cool off at the Yeppoon Aquatic Centre
What’s a small regional town without a public swimming pool, hey? The Yeppoon Aquatic Centre is located at Cooee Bay, which is not in the centre of town. Be sure to drive past Wreck Point on the way there as it offers a great view of the Keppel Islands, as well as Cooee Bay and Lammermoore Beach.
Yeppoon Aquatic Centre has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a heated and undercover 17 metre pool and a kiddies wading pool. Entry is from $4.50 per adult and $3.50 per child, or $14 for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids. The pool is open 7 days a week all year, except public holidays. They have a very large swimming school too, with lessons during both school terms and intensive lessons on school holidays, so it’s perfect if you’re just here for a week or two and want your kiddo to learn to swim. You can find out more via their website.
13. Try your hand at sailing at Keppel Bay Sailing Club
Keppel Bay Sailing Club hosts a twilight social sailing meet every Friday from about 3.30pm until about 6pm. It costs just $10 (yes, only ten bucks — even I’m stunned it’s so damn cheap!) and is suitable for rank beginners right through to experienced sailors. If you’re a total sailing newbie, don’t worry as you’ll be paired with an experienced sailor and will be in safe hands. Just bring yourself, a towel and a change of clothes. Wearing footwear while sailing is completely optional, but be prepared to get wet! Showering and changing facilities are available at the club, and afterwards you can share a friendly drink in the downstairs Bilge Bar.
Bookings are essential and can be made by phoning 4939 9542.
14. Have a cheap feed at The Spinnaker
If you’re hungry after your sailing adventure, then the $15.50 roast buffet at The Spinnaker, which is part of Keppel Bay Sailing Club, is a very good option. The buffet is very popular for local and visiting families alike as it’s cheap, great quality and a big feed. If the buffet doesn’t appeal then there’s also an a la carte menu with entrees and desserts on offer, which is much more expensive, as well as a great $10 kids menu (we recommend the kids fish and chips!). The kids meals also come with a drink, ice block and a colouring-in pack. Our daughter isn’t interested in colouring in while there because there’s a small, covered playground outside and a kids games room inside. There are plenty of tables outside too, so you can enjoy a feed while the littlies play but you’re close enough to easily keep an eye on them. The Spinnaker is not a flashy, pretentious option, and the food is basic but good. The relaxed atmosphere and the fact they welcome (and cater for) children is a big plus in our book. We highly recommend it!
15. Sip a coffee at one of Yeppoon's many cafes
Gone are the days when it was impossible to get a decent cup of coffee in Yeppoon. Cafe culture is well and truly thriving in Yeppoon, with some of the best coffee you’ll get this side of the Tropic of Capricorn. Ruby Caravan takes the prize for cutest coffee van, with her vintage styling and the BEST almond croissants. Her owner, Rachael Pilcher-Willson is one of the friendliest people you'll meet and is always good for a yarn (she was also crowned Yeppoon's PineFest Ambassador in 2016!)
Yeppoon’s best kept secret is definitely The Attic, which is above kids boutique The Crooked Cubby on James Street. You have to go down the laneway to the back of the building, then climb the stairs to find it. It’s definitely a ‘local’s only’ spot and I think it serves the best coffee in Yeppoon. Although that claim is hotly debated amongst the locals! Whisk (also on James Street) and Flour are another two great options, if wandering behind a building and up its stairs aren’t really your thing!
16. Enjoy morning tea at Tanby Garden Centre
Morning or afternoon tea at Tanby Garden Centre has been a firm favourite family activity of ours for a number of years now. The garden centre is a few minutes drive along Tanby Road, (head south toward Emu Park) so it’s only suitable if you have your own transport. You can browse their gift shop, explore the massive grounds or grab a coffee from the little cafe in the big, Balinese-style hut. Their friendly chooks hide under some citrus trees near the cafe and geese can even be seen strolling throughout the centre.
17. Unwind with a cold beer at The Strand or Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club
Although The Strand is technically a pub, it’s got a pretty family-friendly vibe during the daytime, and is a perfectly suitable place for a quiet beer out the back in the beer garden, or a pub lunch. The Strand is in the perfect position in Yeppoon, right on the corner of Normanby Road and James Street, opposite the ocean. It got a really bad name for a while there as it was very run down and a massive redevelopment was always ‘just about to start’, yet never did. It was also the preferred hangout for some motorcycle clubs (and not necessarily the good kind, either 😉 ). However, The Strand was refurbished a few years ago and they’ve done a pretty good job. I’d steer clear of the dark interior though, and head out the back to the beer garden where the laidback beachy Yeppoon vibe lives on.
Alternatively, the Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club has the best view in town and is right opposite The Strand. It’s directly on the beachfront; the bar is upstairs and is a very cruisy place to enjoy the view with a coldie in hand. As it’s run by volunteers as part of the club, it’s inexpensive and relaxed. It was recently renovated as cyclone Marcia was not kind to the building back in 2015. Although Marcia Memories will always be with those of us who went through the storm, those memories are finally starting to fade.
Things to do around Yeppoon
If you can travel a bit further out of Yeppoon, there are even more free and insanely cheap things to do. You could head north to Byfield and have a picnic at Upper Stoney Creek, explore the art gallery there, have a great lunch at the Byfield General Store, or have morning tea at Fern’s Hideway then explore Waterpark Creek by canoe.
Further south is Emu Park, where you can stroll along the new boardwalk and Anzac Memorial, which is beautifully done and really worthwhile visiting. You could combine this with the Emu Park Markets, held on the first Sunday of every month at Bell Park, or the Festival of the Wind, held around April each year. Emu Park also has a small museum, library and arts college that are worth a look, too. And dinner at the Pine Beach Hotel is a must! It’s a rather dated hotel but don’t let that fool you! The meals here are delicious and don’t cost a fortune. There’s also a couple of kids playgrounds in Emu Park, which are popular with our daughter.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could head out for day trip to Great Keppel Island and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, or head inland towards Rockhampton along the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road and climb Mt Jim Crow. You could even explore the whole area while geocaching — the choices are endless!
If you’re planning a holiday in Yeppoon, choosing accommodation can be difficult as there are so many choices of places. Yeppoon offers a huge variety of accommodation styles from basic motel rooms and caravan parks, to self-contained family style apartments. To help you, here’s my quick guide to the best places to stay in Yeppoon.
If you’re looking for a modern, self-contained apartment situated close to the centre of Yeppoon, you can’t go past Echelon. The apartments are small but right on the beachfront, with cafes, a restaurant and a boutique all located on the ground floor. It also has a covered carpark underneath the building. It is walking distance to many of the activities I’ve listed above. Click here for the best price.
Villa Mar Colina is an older unit block, but has one of the best views of all the Yeppoon accommodation options. It’s a fairly steep walk uphill from the centre of Yeppoon, so if you don’t have a car or not keen on walking up hills, then this might not be the best option. You can find the best price here.
Salt is a brand new building that opened in 2016 and, like Echelon, is right on the beachfront on Anzac Parade. It also has a cafe on the ground floor and offers secure undercover parking.it’s right next door to Spinnakers, part of Keppel Bay Sailing Club, and the centre of Yeppoon is also a very easy, flat walk from here. Click here for the best deal.
If you’re looking for basic hotel-style accomodation, then the Coast Motel might be the best option for you. It’s situated a bit further south of Yeppoon’s centre and you will need a car to get around more easily. However, it offers good value and is suitable if you’re visiting Yeppoon for a work trip. You can find the best rates by clicking here.
If you’re seeking a more family-orientated holiday accomodation option, the Big 4 Caravan Park in Lammermoore will suit you perfectly. It offers inexpensive cabin-style accomodation, with waterslides and large water play area that will have the kids begging to visit every holidays. Click here for the best price.
In case you’re wondering, Yeppoon has two major shopping centres: Yeppoon Central and Keppel Bay Plaza. Woolworths can be found in Yeppoon Central, along with Big W and another 30-odd specialty shops such as telcos, cafe, butchers, clothing retailers and Suncorp Bank, among others. Keppel Bay Plaza, on the other hand, is home to Coles, Target Country, the Yeppoon Post Office and a number of other banks such as the Commonwealth Bank. Both centres have chemists, but the chemist on James Street is open longer hours, from 8am until 7pm so it’s the best one to visit if you urgently need something outside of the shopping centre’s hours. Yeppoon also has a small but well-equipped hospital on Hoskyn Drive, should you need to seek urgent medical treatment.
Getting to Yeppoon
Both Qantas and Virgin offer daily flights between Brisbane and Rockhampton and Yeppoon is about a 45 minute drive from Rockhampton airport. You can get the best flight deals by clicking here.
I don’t recommend catching a cab as the fare would be exorbitant, and we do not currently have Uber in either Rockhampton or Yeppoon. The occasional Young’s Bus run between the airport and Yeppoon, though — but it really is ‘occasional’. Personally, if you don’t have a friend who can pick you up from the airport, I recommend hiring a car so you can easily travel in and around Yeppoon. All the major hire car companies have desks at Rockhampton airport, which makes it very easy and they have competitive rates too. Click here for the best hire car deals.
So that’s it: my complete guide to free or crazy-cheap things to do in Yeppoon. If you’re a local, have I listed your favourite activities? If not, please leave a message below and I’ll include it in my list.
And if you’re a visitor to Yeppoon: Welcome! Yeppoon is such a fabulous town and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy your stay. I hope this guide has been super-useful for you and helps you make the most of your visit. If I’ve missed anything, or you’d like to leave some feedback on this guide, please leave a comment below!