Mackay Visitor's Guide

Sitting in the middle of the Queensland coast, the Mackay region stretches from secluded islands off the coast through golden sand beaches and into lush sub-tropical rainforests. The historic town of Mackay is filled with 1920s Art Deco buildings and public artworks, as well as a vibrant dining precinct. See wallabies on the beach at Cape Hillsborough National Park, dive with shy platypus in Eungella National Park or throw a line in at some of the state’s best fishing spots. 

Things to do in Mackay 

Immerse yourself in nature and fall in love with the laid-back lifestyle of the Mackay region.

Throw a line in 

Ocean, lake or river, there’s a great fishing spot for you in Mackay. The region sits at the meeting point for southern and northern species, so you can catch an incredible variety of fish.

Meet local wildlife 

Verdant rainforest, rugged hinterland and clear rock pools provide unique habitats for some of Australia’s most iconic and elusive wildlife.

  • Even the wallabies love the beaches around Mackay. In the Cape Hillsborough National Park, wallabies and kangaroos congregate in good numbers to fossick through the sand at sunrise.
  • About an hour inland from Mackay, Finch Hatton Gorge in Eungella National Park is a fairytale land of tumbling waterfalls, tranquil rock pools and lush foliage. Look out for platypus, the rare gastric-brooding frog and the orange-sided skink.
  • Did you know you can scuba dive in the rainforest? At Oliver’s Pool near Finch Hatton Gorge, dive and see if you can come face to face with a platypus. 

Discover the islands

 Just offshore from Mackay there’s a series of secluded tropical islands that are waiting to be explored.

  • Keswick, 32km off the coast of Mackay, is one of the southernmost Whitsunday islands. Almost the whole island is national park, fringed by sandy beaches, coral gardens and three shipwrecks. There are self-contained accommodation options, too. 
  • Swim on your own isolated beach on Brampton Island. A barefoot paradise surrounded by lush coastal mangroves, it’s the perfect romantic day trip. Pack a picnic. 

Start Exploring

Places to visit 

Discover a historic sugar boom town, relax on deserted beaches (aside from the wallabies) or go platypus spotting in the rainforest. Take me to places to visit in Mackay

Rainforest

Vast tracts of subtropical rainforest cover the interior of the Mackay region, dotted with walking tracks, gentle creeks, stunning gorges, waterfalls and rare wildlife. 

Sarina Sugar Shed 

Mackay is sugar cane country and you can learn all about this fascinating industry (and indulge your sweet tooth) at the Sarina Sugar Shed.

Hibiscus Coast

Starting 20km north of Mackay, the Hibiscus Coast is almost 100km of national park, golden beaches, rolling cane fields and charming seaside villages.

Mackay City 

Sandwiched between the Coral Sea and the cane fields of the hinterland, Mackay City was built on sugar. It is home to many well-preserved Art Deco buildings, a stylish marina (where you can buy fresh seafood) and plenty of green space.

Local Tip

If you’ve got the kids in tow, set your sights on the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park. Although it’s a little out of town (approximately 45 minutes), it’ll make for an unforgettable family holiday waking up to one of the most famous scenes in Australia. Sharmin and Chelsea
Cape Hillsborough

What's on in Mackay 

In Mackay, try your luck in a fishing competition, catch a local theatre production or buy fresh local produce at a farmers’ market. Take me to what's on in Mackay

Where to stay in Mackay

Holiday parks and campsites line the beaches around Mackay, or you can stay in the centre of the city at a good-value motel or stylish self-contained apartment. You can also glamp right on the beach or get close to nature in a rainforest cabin.

Getting there

Mackay is almost halfway between Brisbane and Cairns, so it’s easy to access from either of these major centres.

  • By Plane
    There are daily flights to Mackay from Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane.
  • By Car
    Mackay is 735km south of Cairns and the drive takes just under nine hours. The route makes up the northern part of the Pacific Coast Way and runs right along the coast, passing through Townsville, Bowen and Airlie Beach. Mackay is 950km north of Brisbane and the drive takes about 11 hours. It makes up the southern part of the Pacific Coast Way and passes through the Sunshine Coast, Gladstone and Rockhampton.
  • By Train
    The Spirit of Queensland train runs from Brisbane to Cairns and stops in Mackay. It departs five days a week and the journey to Mackay takes about 12 hours from either city.

Transport from Mackay Airport

Mackay Airport is just 10 minutes’ drive from the city. Hire a car at the terminal. There’s a taxi rank right outside the terminal or take the public bus that runs regularly to the CBD.

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