Pacific Coast Way - Mackay to St Lawrence

Multiple Locations

Experience four wheel drive adventures, a coral reef teeming with marine life, beautiful beaches and great camping when you travel the Pacific Coast Way between Mackay and Clairview.

This stretch of coast is largely untouched. Rugged and raw, this section of natural coastline is home to patches of ancient rainforest, remote beaches and exciting marine life.

Allow at least two days to explore this area, more if you intend to camp at the wild and remote Cape Palmerston.

Journey Details

Duration
48 Hours
Distance
130 Kilometres

Activities

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking/Trekking

Full Itinerary

Mackay to Cape Palmerston

Mackay to Sarina: Drive 38 kilometres south from Mackay to Sarina, home of the award-winning Sarina Sugar Shed. This is Australia's only miniature working sugar mill and distillery, offering tours, tastes and insights into the sugar industry. Taste the distillery's own rum and watch candy floss being made.

You can find the Sarina Tourist Art and Craft Centre near the Sugar Shed at the Field of Dreams complex.

Nearby Sarina and Grasstree Beaches provide lovely coastal locations to enjoy a beachside picnic.

Cape Palmerston National Park: An off-road paradise 25 kilometres South of Sarina providing a serene place for self-sufficient camping. Open eucalypt woodland grows on the ridges; while mangrove swamps, rainforest and sand dunes are all part of the cape’s rugged attraction. Traverse the oceanside cape to view abundant marine life below, including turtles, dugongs or humpback whales from June to September as they migrate north. Self-sufficient campers can bush camp at Windmill Bay, Clark Bay or Cape Creek. The camp sites can only be reached by four wheel drive and permits are required.

The undeveloped wilderness surrounding Cape Palmerston’s camping areas provides access to excellent fishing locations and rugged bush walks.

TIP: Bring your own drinking water.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4
Distance 100 kms
Route Type One Way
Cape Palmerston to St Lawrence

Delightful beachside communities, popular for fishing and crabbing, line the coast from Cape Palmerston to St Lawrence.

Catch a crab in Carmila: Camp near the ocean and reel in the ocean’s bounty by trawling nearby creek mouths. Facilities include toilets, barbecues and picnic tables. A boat ramp is located at Carmila Creek with a playground and beach access nearby.

Flaggy Rock: Accessible by four wheel drives, it provides beautiful 360 degree views toward the ranges and across the Coral Sea. Stop at a local café and gift shop to indulge in home baking, sample some of the freshly-made fruit ice cream or purchase a precious gem to take home.

Dugongs in Clairview: 120 kilometres South of Mackay, the beachside community of Clairview is known for excellent fishing and crabbing. A dugong sanctuary was established in 1997. Visitors may catch a glimpse of these incredible creatures from the beach.

Fun Fact If you are travelling from the south, Clairview is the first place you catch a glimpse of the sea from the highway since the Gold Coast, 1,850 kilometres south.

St Lawrence: One of the most historic towns on the Queensland Coast, worth a visit to view historical buildings and relics.

Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Car, Four Wheel Drive
Distance 140 kms
Route Type One Way

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Smalleys Beach

Cape Hillsborough, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Smalleys Beach is situated approximately 35 kilometres north of Mackay and is part of the Hibiscus Coast. This secluded beach is also located in the Cape Hillsborough National Park and offers limited camping sites.

Hibiscus Coast

Cape Hillsborough, Mackay Area
Free Entry
20 kilometres north of Mackay lies the Hibiscus Coast which includes the delightful seaside towns of Seaforth, Halliday Bay, Ball Bay and Cape Hillsborough. This is the perfect place to find a quiet beach or picnic table and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Seaforth

Seaforth, Mackay Area
A trip to Seaforth takes you past lush subtropical rainforest and fields of sugar cane. Seaforth itself is a quaint beachfront town that is also one of the most popular recreational fishing destinations in The Mackay Region, especially with its well maintained boat ramp at Victor Creek.

Ball Bay

Ball Bay, Mackay Area
Free Entry
The picturesque beach settlement of Ball Bay is located 35 kilometres north of Mackay. Ball Bay offers secluded camping on a small grassy campground. The facilities include toilets, cold beach showers, wood barbecues and drinking water, however animals are not allowed.

Cape Hillsborough

Cape Hillsborough, Mackay Area
Cape Hillsborough National Park, approximately 50 kilometres north of Mackay, is a natural paradise where rainforest meets the ocean. The rugged scenery, picturesque walking tracks and native wildlife make it a perfect destination to explore.

Cape Hillsborough National Park

Cape Hillsborough, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Cape Hillsborough National Park is one of the most striking and peaceful places on the Central Queensland coast. It's teeming with life and diverse habitats—from rainforest and eucalypts, to mangroves, beaches and rocky headlands.

Wallabies on the Beach at Cape Hillsborough

Cape Hillsborough, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Cape Hillsborough National Park, approximately 45 minutes north of Mackay, is where you'll find rainforest meets the shoreline, volcanic headlands, eucalypt forests home to koalas and kookaburras and prehistoric rock formations.

Newry Islands National Park

Newry Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Newry Islands National Park lies within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, an area of outstanding natural beauty and irreplaceable value. Pearl-coloured beaches, exposed rocky headlands, open woodlands and dense rainforest, all surrounded by the sparkling turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef—Newry Islands National Park is truly world class World Heritage.
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