Unfortunately due to Covid-19 the Great Western Hotel has had to close its doors. Read more here.

On a recent Queensland Road Trip we stayed overnight in Rockhampton and while checking into our motel we asked the reception staff, “Are there any fun things to do in Rockhampton at night?”

Fun things to do in Rockhampton

Much to our surprise it turns out there was!

The reception staff quickly replied that “One of the most fun things to do in Rockhampton is Bull Riding at the Arena.” We were a little bit dubious but thought we’d go and have a look.

From 7:00 – 10:30pm on Wednesday and Friday evenings there are practice bull riding sessions at the arena of the Great Western Hotel. Throw in a ringside table and some Texas Bar-B-Q and all of a sudden you have yourself a great night of entertainment in Rockhampton.

Fun things to do in Rockhampton - Snap Travel Blog
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Fun things to do in Rockhampton: Bull Riding & Texas Bar-B-Q – Snap Travel Blog

In case you’re wondering, bull riding is where cowboys of all ages come together on a quest to conquer eight seconds.

Eight seconds on the back of a bull!

That’s right, eight whole seconds.

Eight seconds on the back of a powerful animal that is determined to toss you off.

To the average person, eight seconds doesn’t seem long but when you are hanging on for dear life it must seem like an eternity.

The night we were there only a few conquered that coveted eight seconds. Instead, most of the riders were tossed into the air well short of the buzzer; they would then jump up and run across the arena with the bull in hot pursuit.

It was only when they were running across the arena that we noticed how short some of them were. We turned and looked at each other and said “They’re kids!”

It turns out that children as young as 7 years old were participating in this crazy sport!


It’s a school night!

8.00pm on a Wednesday night and you’d expect the average 7 year old to be tucked up safely in bed and dreaming about what they’d get up to at school the next day.

Not in Rockhampton!

In Rocky on a Wednesday night, you’re more likely to see a 7 year old being tossed around like a rag doll on the back of a bull!

Mum, I want to take up bull riding!

Thankfully my kids never uttered the words ” Mum, I want to take up bull riding!” and I’m not sure what my reaction would have been if they had.

What inspires a child to suddenly want to put their life in danger and take up bull riding? Maybe they’re farm kids and have grown up with it their whole life. Or maybe they are just up-and-coming adrenaline junkies!

Whatever the reason, they looked like they were having fun and were certainly quick to jump back on again much to the delight of the crowd at the pub.

What, they do bull riding in a pub?

Yes, you heard me, they do bull riding in a pub!

The Great Western Hotel looks like your average Aussie pub from the front but it’s out the back in the big tin shed where all the action happens.

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Image courtesy of Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton.

The venue is renowned for attracting major events to the region including bull riding and many headline music acts.

Established in 1862, Rockhampton’s iconic Great Western Hotel has a rich history – not only as a Hotel and award winning Steakhouse & Texas Bar-B-Q, but also an entertainment venue. Renowned for bringing thrilling events such as rodeos, professional bull riding and bull fighting as well as headline music acts to Central Queensland.

The hotel caters to an estimated 250,000 patrons each year. It is on many people’s bucket list to visit so they can experience the atmosphere of both the hotel itself and the Rodeo and Music Arena. The hotel and the arena have featured in many mainstream tourism TV programs both in Australia and overseas.

Recent Live Acts at the Great Western Hotel include Lee Kernaghan, Suzie Quatro, Jon Stevens: the Noiseworks & INXS Collection National Tour, and Killer Queen.

So, if you find yourself in Rocky on a Wednesday or Friday evening and are wondering what is there to do in Rockhampton? I highly recommend you book yourself a ringside table at the Great Western for a night of fun family entertainment.

To book a table for dinner call 07 4922 3888 or email info@greatwesternhotel.com.au

Click here for more Queensland Bucket List ideas.

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Cover image courtesy of Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton.

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