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 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 secretive 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.
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Things to do
Away from it all
Indulge in a private weekend away at nearby Keswick Island opens in new window 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.
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.
In the swim
Located in the heart of Mackay’s city centre, the Bluewater Lagoon opens in new window 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 – and best of all, it's free.
There are few places you have a better chance of sighting one of Australia’s most elusive marsupials, the platypus. Eungella National Park is just an hour’s drive west of Mackay. Hike the Mackay Highlands Great Walk opens in new window (the entire trail is 56km, but there are plenty of short sections you can tackle) to see some of its 860 plant species and abundant wildlife. If the platypuses are bashful, the stunning views over the Pioneer Valley will make the effort more than worth it.
You're in sugarcane country here – forget about your dentist and your diet and take a trip to Sarina, 30km south of Mackay, to visit the Sarina Sugar Shed opens in new window. Take a guided tour to learn how the humble sugarcane is magically transformed into sweet treats like ice cream, liqueurs, sauces and the award-winning Sugar Shed Rum.
Distance to Mackay city centre 6km
Taxi Taxis are available outside the terminal, and cost around AUD $22 (plus a $2 airport surcharge). The trip takes around 15 minutes.
Bus Translink opens in new window public bus route 303 travels to the city centre around every hour Monday-Friday, less on weekends, taking around 30 minutes. Tickets cost around AUD $5.
Distance to Airlie Beach 160km
Bus The Greyhound opens in new window bus, with only a few departures a day, costs around AUD $33 and takes around 2 hours to get to Airlie Beach.Back to top
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 art exhibitions, wine and cheese tastings, live jazz, stand-up comedy and other performances.Back to top
If you’re without wheels, make use of the local bus service, operated by Translink opens in new window, for easy and cheap travel around the city centre and outer suburbs. The two main bus stops are located behind Canelands Shopping Centre and at the corner of Victoria and Gregory Streets.Back to top