Population 85700

The city of Mackay is an intriguing blend of 1900s and Art Deco heritage buildings mixed with modern-day architecture. It was first settled in the 1860s by explorer Captain John Mackay, the city's namesake. Sugar was first grown here in 1865. It is now known as Queensland's 'sugar city' as it produces around one-third of Australia's sugar crop and has the world's largest bulk sugar-loading terminal. Tourism is a growth industry in Mackay with the natural delights of the Great Barrier Reef just off the coast and spectacular inland national parks nearby.

Visitor Information

320 Nebo Rd (Bruce Hwy); (07) 4944 5888

Nearby national parks

  • Cape Hillsborough National Park

    Cape Hillsborough National Park is renowned for its beautiful sandy beaches nestled between rocky headlands. Rhyolite boulders are scattered...more

  • Eungella National Park

    Situated in the rugged Clarke Range, high above the surrounding plains, this mountainous national park is rent by deep gorges and contains...more

Nearby towns

  • Sarina

    Sarina is in the hinterland of what has been dubbed the Serenity Coast, at the base of the Connor Range. It is central to the Queensland...more

  • Proserpine

    Proserpine is the inland sugar town and service centre of the Whitsunday Shire. It was named after the Roman goddess of fertility,...more

  • Airlie Beach

    Airlie Beach is at the centre of the thriving Whitsunday coast. This tropical holiday town offers a cosmopolitan blend of bars, restaurants...more

In Town

Artspace Mackay This modern art gallery forms part of the Queensland Heritage Trails Network. The museum documents Mackay's history with an interesting permanent exhibition titled 'Spirit and Place: Mementoes of Mackay'. The gallery section has rotating exhibits of both local and international artwork; Tues–Sat; Gordon St.

Old Town Hall: houses the Heritage Interpretive Centre with displays on Mackay's history and visitor information; Sydney St.

Regional Botanic Gardens: follow the picturesque boardwalk over a lagoon and explore specialised gardens of central-coast flora; Lagoon St.

Queens Park: includes the Orchid House with over 3000 orchids; Goldsmith St.

Heritage walk: self-guide walk of 22 heritage buildings; brochure available from visitor centre.

City cemetery: 1.5 km heritage walk; Greenmount Rd.

Horizon Mosaics: locally-constructed mosaics of Mackay region's natural attractions; Victoria St.

Museum: local artefacts with a research area and souvenirs for sale; open 10am–2pm every Thurs and 1st Sun each month; Casey Ave. 

Great Barrier Reef tours: snorkelling, diving, reef fishing and sailing tours; details at visitor centre.


Eungella National Park This ecologically-diverse park is home to some unusual plants and animals including the Eungella gastric brooding frog and the Mackay tulip oak. A highlight of the visit is seeing the platypus in Broken River from a viewing deck. Visit the Finch Hatton Gorge section of the park with its breathtaking waterfalls, swimming holes and walking tracks. For the more adventurous, try sailing through the rainforest canopy on the eco-tour Forest Flying. Finch Hatton Gorge turn-off is just before Eungella. Broken River is 6 km S of Eungella; (07) 4944 7800 (same phone number for national parks below).

Hibiscus coast Comprises the quaint coastal towns of Seaforth, Ball Bay and Cape Hillsborough. Steep, rainforest-clad hills plunge to rocky headlands and white sandy beaches in this lovely and surprisingly peaceful district north of Mackay. Cape Hillsborough National Park offers the most pristine scenery, as well as tidal rockpools and walking trails. Kangaroos are often seen hopping along the deserted beaches; 43 km NW.

Northern beaches: visit fabulous beaches including Harbour (patrolled, fishing), Town, Blacks (area's longest beach), Bucasia, Illawong, Eimeo, Lamberts (excellent lookout) and Shoal Point.

Farleigh Sugar Mill: tours during crushing season, July–Oct; 15 km N.

That Sapphire Place: sapphire display and gem-cutting demonstrations; 20 km W.

Greenmount Homestead: restored historic home with pioneering history museum; open 9.30am–12.30pm, closed Sat; Walkerston; 20 km W.

Homebush: small town offers art and craft gallery, orchid farms and self-drive tour through historic area; 25 km S.

Melba House: the home where Dame Nellie Melba spent the 1st year of her married life. Now home to Pioneer Valley Visitor Centre; Marian; 28 km W.

Mirani: small town in the Pioneer Valley with museum and Illawong Fauna and Flora Sanctuary; 33 km W.

Kinchant Dam: popular spot for watersports and fishing; 40 km W.

Smith Islands National Park: the largest island of this group is Goldsmith, with long sandy beaches and snorkelling in surrounding reefs; access is by private boat or water taxi; 70 km NE via Seaforth.

Cumberland Islands National Park: this group of islands off Mackay's coast is popular for boating and also an important rookery for flat back and green turtles; access is by private boat or water taxi.

Brampton Island: resort island at southern end of Whitsunday Passage with pristine beaches and coral reef; sea and air access; 38 km NE

Nebo: historic town of Mackay region, with local artefacts and pioneering history at the Nebo Shire Museum. Nebo holds a Campdraft in Sept; 93 km SW.

Fishing spots near town

Pioneer River 30 km

Fishing from a canoe is one of the best ways to get close and personal with the environment. Even when the fish are small, catching them from a canoe is both challenging and rewarding. With that in mind, I jumped at the... Find out more

Seaforth 35 km

Seaforth is about an hour’s drive north of Mackay, depending on cane harvester traffic. The small seaside resort is remarkable in that it hasn’t yet been overrun by developers, although that is changing... Find out more

Teemburra Dam 53 km

Mackay has excellent freshwater options. The most popular venues are the region’s dams in the Pioneer Valley – Teemburra, Eungella and Kinchant. Of these, the best known is Teemburra in Eungella National... Find out more

Golf courses around town

Hamilton Island Golf Club 92 km

When Hamilton Island was being built in the 1980s it was a playground of the rich and famous. The island’s owner and developer, Keith Williams, knew a golf course would add to the tourism value of his island... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Church on Palmer

The church has been de-sanctified and now the building is dedicated to producing good food. This was one of the first fine-dining places in Mackay and it has a loyal local following, thanks not only to its food but also... Find out more

George’s Thai on the Marina

Here’s a waterfront restaurant that serves the very best contemporary Thai food. Its menu appeals with its freshness and also its differences – not many places serve betel leaf, in this case topped with... Find out more

Sorbello’s Italian 

If you can’t find something you want to eat here, then you’re just not hungry. The whopping menu includes risotto, pasta, pizza, seafood, steak, chicken, lamb, pork and heaps of vegetable dishes, and... Find out more

Campsites around town

Kinchant Waters Leisure Resort 29 km

Popular with waterskiers and anglers, the Kinchent Waters Leisure Resort includes a 4 ha camping area, offering a range of accommodation options including cabins and backpacker rooms, plus a bar, restaurant and laundry... Find out more

Smalleys Beach camping area 31 km

The gravel road to Smalleys Beach is signposted about 6 km along Cape Hillsborough Rd, 50 km north-west of Mackay. The campground offers plenty of shade under eucalypt trees and there are 11 numbered sites. The nearby... Find out more

Ball Bay Campground 33 km

Ball Bay is a basic campground (no powered sites) off Cape Hillsborough Rd, about 48 km north of Mackay. Camping attendants visit the site daily to collect fees. Mackay is on the Bruce Hwy,  about 125 km south of... Find out more

Seaforth camping area 35 km

This campground is 45 km north of Mackay along the Seaforth–Yakapari Rd. It has coin-operated showers. Camping attendants visit the site daily to collect fees. Mackay is on the Bruce Hwy about 125 km south of... Find out more

Outer Newry Island camping area (boat-based camping) 41 km

This campground is on Outer Newry Island’s south-west coast. If you’re lucky you might see some amazing birdlife on the island, including brahminy kites, ospreys and white-bellied sea eagles. Campers should... Find out more

Neils camping area (boat-based camping) 42 km

Bush camping is permitted on Carlisle Island, at the entrance to the Whitsunday Passage. Toilets and picnic shelters are the only facilities, so bring all self-sufficient supplies. The surrounding coral reefs provide... Find out more

Tug's Point camping area (boat-based camping) 44 km

Camping is permitted on Rabbit Island’s south-east coast, where you’ll find a gas barbecue and a few other basic facilities such as picnic tables and a shelter shed. Bring drinking water. There’s... Find out more

St Helens Beach camping area 49 km

This basic campground is in the township of St Helens Beach, 68 km north of Mackay, and is accessed via Murrays Rd. Firewood is supplied and camping attendants visit the site daily to collect fees. Mackay is on the Bruce... Find out more

Captain’s Crossing camping area 50 km

Camp beside lovely Teemburra Creek at this campground and picnic spot. There are no facilities; bring all self-sufficient supplies, including drinking water, rubbish bags and a gas/fuel stove. Access is by 4WD only.... Find out more

Roylen Bay camping area (boat-based camping) 53 km

Camping is permitted on Goldsmith Island, part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area off the coast of Mackay. Toilets and picnic tables are the only facilities, so you’ll need to bring all self-sufficient... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

The Park Mackay 4 km

This is a large park and the tourist van sites are at the rear, furthest away from the highway. There are good facilities and it is a popular base for travellers. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Andergrove Van Park 5 km

Sweeping lawns are visible as you enter this excellent park set in a quiet, off-road position with easy access from the Bruce Highway. It has good features at a reasonable price and is an ideal base for exploring the... Find out more

Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort 28 km

This park within Cape Hillsborough National Park offers camping and caravan sites and is a great spot for a break. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Seaforth Camping Area 35 km

This is a popular open camping area right on the beachfront in the heart of the small town.... Find out more

St Helens Gardens Caravan Park 49 km

A basic park with good facilities, this place is set back from the highway beside Kolijo Creek, 1 km south of the Calen Post Office. This is a good overnight stop. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Travellers Rest Caravan and Camping Park 72 km

There are no more sandflies or midges at Midge Point than elsewhere, but there is a lovely beachside caravan park with lawns, large shady trees and a host of other great features. We really enjoy staying here. Bookings... Find out more

O’Connell River Whitsunday Tourist Park 87 km

Located alongside the highway 22 km south of Proserpine, this place has good basic facilities and is for an overnight stop. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Clarion Hotel Mackay 

Located in the Mackay Marina Village, the hotel has 79 self-contained suites with marina and ocean views, ranging from spa suites to family suites and deluxe studios, all with a balcony. Children under 12 stay free... Find out more

Comfort Resort Blue Pacific

You have a choice of styles and prices here, from studio rooms with limited cooking facilities to one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and a two-bedroom penthouse apartment, all with a full kitchen. There is also a... Find out more

Lantern Motor Inn and Restaurant

Located 2 kilometres from the city centre, there are 16 units on two levels here, set in tropical gardens. The licensed restaurant operates six nights a week and provides room service. Hosts Alvin, Rosemary and Francine... Find out more

Ocean International

This is a perfect spot for a family holiday, right on Illawong beach and only 3 kilometres from the centre of Mackay. It is also close to a nine-hole golf course and tennis courts. The 45 rooms include five specifically... Find out more

Broken River Mountain 

Tear yourself away from the coast for this very special place, one of the best in the world to see the elusive platypus in the wild. It is 90 kilometres west of Mackay and 5 kilometres from Eungella. Despite its apparent... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Smalleys Beach camping area 31 km

T/O to Seaforth

Small area on the beach among dense coastal vegetation in Cape Hillsborough National Park. Located 1.7km (partly unsealed) north of Cape Hillsborough Rd.

Palm Tree Creek park area 32 km

34km N of Mackay (L) or 90km S of Proserpine (R)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Sarina park area 32 km

At Sarina

Just off the highway behind the roadhouse on the south side of town.

Ball Bay camping area 33 km

At Ball Bay

Small campground on the foreshore at the end of the road into the village.

Seaforth camping area 35 km

At Seaforth

Large foreshore campground located at the end of the road into the village.

St Helens Beach camping area 48 km

T/O to St Helens Beach

Small campground located 15km east of the highway on the foreshore at the south end of St Helens Beach.

What's on around town

Market: showgrounds, Milton St; Sat mornings.

Paxton's Markets: River St; evenings 1st Fri each month.

Walkers Markets: Harbour Rd; weekends.

Seaforth Markets: Palm Ave; Sun mornings. 

Troppo Treasure Markets: showgrounds; 2nd Sun each month. 

Seaforth Fishing Classic: Apr. 

Festival of the Arts: July.

River to Reef Festival: Aug.

Sugartime Festival: Sept.

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