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Mackay Australia

Mackay

A booming city of sunshine, scenery, arts and heritage

Australia’s sugar capital is a laid-back coastal city, with over 30 secluded beaches and ready access to 11 national parks. The city’s Bluewater Trail consists of more than 20km of pedestrian and bike paths linking attractions such as Bluewater Lagoon, Bluewater Quay and the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens. The city centre boasts plenty of art deco-inspired architecture and is the epicenter of the Mackay Festival of Arts, the largest event of its kind in Queensland. Venture west for about an hour by car to Eungella and catch a platypus feeding at dawn or dusk, or share a sunrise with sociable kangaroos and wallabies. If you’re lucky and the season is right, you might even spy an echidna, possum, turkey or turtle at Cape Hillsborough. Spectacular views over the untamed coastline are assured at Andrews Point.

When to go

The best time to visit Mackay is between January and April when the temperature is in the mid 20s. In the cooler months, the temperature ranges between 10°C and 20°C – winters are sunny and fairly dry. December is the start of the wet season.

The whale season is between July and September with some sightings possible outside that time frame. Humpback and Pilot Whales are a common sight in the Whitsundays. The Mackay Festival of Arts takes place in July and features wine and cheese tastings, live jazz, stand-up routines, art exhibitions and other performances.

Flying with Jetstar

Jetstar flies to Mackay from many of Australia’s major cities, with direct flights from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Find cheap flights to Mackay

Getting around

If you’re without wheels, make use of the local bus service, operated by Mackay Transit Coaches, for easy and cheap access to CBD and outer suburbs. The two main bus stops are located behind Canelands Shopping Centre and at the corner of Victoria and Gregory Streets. Major hire car agencies operate counters at the airport and Mackay Taxis can be called on tel: 13 10 08.

Airport information

Mackay

CBD 6km
Travel time 15 mins
Taxi approx AU$22

Airlie Beach

CBD 160km
Travel time 2 hours
Whitsunday Transfers to Airlie Beach. Call +61 (7) 4947 4940. One-way: adult AU$60, child (4-15 yrs) AU$30; return: adult AU$120; child AU$60.

Things to do

Something wild

Where else can you almost be guaranteed of sighting one of Australia’s most elusive marsupials, the platypus? Eungella National Park is just an hour’s drive west of Mackay. If the platypuses are bashful, the stunning views over the Pioneer Valley will mesmerise you. Ocean Breeze Transfers operates day trips to Eungella if you’re without wheels, but do book in advance.

In the swim

Located in the heart of Mackay’s city centre, the Bluewater Lagoon is a family-friendly spot. There are three swimming pools with shallow and deep water areas, a spectacular waterfall connecting the two main lagoon areas and a children’s water playground. There are shaded barbecue areas, changing rooms and toilet facilities. Free entry.

Gone fishin’

There are plenty of barramundi in the Kinchant and Teemburra Dams. Kinchant is just a 40-minute drive south of Mackay and is renowned for its abundance of barramundi and sooty grunter. The Australian Fishing Championships recently named Kinchant Dam one of the best locations in Australia for catching the elusive fish.

Sweet tooth

Indulge your cravings and take a trip out to the Sarina Sugar Shed – Australia’s only interactive miniature mill and distillery. Learn how the humble sugarcane is transformed into divine delicacies such as ice cream, liqueurs, rums and sauces!

Away from it all

Indulge in a private weekend away at nearby Keswick Island and explore the clear waters and untamed surrounds with a scuba or snorkelling adventure. You don’t even need to stay overnight. Take a day trip or stay at the island’s guesthouse. The choice is yours.

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