Mackay: Top 5 things to do

Are you looking to unwind and get back in touch with nature? Then the Mackay region is the place for you! I’ve teamed up with Choice Hotels to put together the top 5 things to do in this little slice of paradise from sensational sunrises with kangaroos and wallabies, through to wonderful waterfalls and lush rainforests.

1. Cape Hillsborough

  • Sunrise with the kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough, Mackay
  • Cape Hillsborough sunrise
  • Sunrise with the kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough
  • Cape Hillsborough sunrise

For the ultimate Australian sunrise experience you can’t go past Cape Hillsborough. It’s a short 45minute drive north of Mackay and well worth the early start! Home to a number of wallabies and kangaroos, each morning they come down to the beach to feed on the mangrove seed pods and seaweed that have washed ashore the night before. Be sure to bring your camera and if you’re lucky one or two may even hop right up to you and pose for a photo!

Tip: Cape Hillsborough isn’t just all about the kangaroos and wallabies. Be sure to check out the walking trails around the national park. There are some sensational views out over the Coral Sea from various look-outs around the park and at low tide you can even walk out to Wedge Island. 

2. Finch Hatton Gorge

  • Finch Hatton Gorge Mackay
  • Araluen waterfall at Finch Hatton Gorge
  • Finch Hatton Gorge Platypus Bush Camp
  • Finch Hatton Gorge walk

If you’re looking for waterfalls then make sure Finch Hatton is on your itinerary. Finch Hatton is 70km west of Mackay and a great place to experience the sub-tropical rainforests of the region. The two most popular waterfalls here are Araluen and the Wheel of Fire Cascades. Araluen is a 1.6km walk from the carpark and the Wheel of Fire is a further 1.4km.

Tip: It’s a good idea to bring suitable footwear and lots of water as it can get quite warm during the summer months. If you decide to do the walk up to the Wheel of Fire, then you will most likely need to do a small creek crossing where your shoes will get wet. Don’t worry, they’ll dry out by the end of the day! 

3. Eungella

  • Platypus at Eungella
  • Driving to Broken River
  • Sky Window lookout Mackay
  • Sky Window lookout in Mackay

A little further west from Finch Hatton is the town of Eungella. Both Eungella and Finch Hatton are a part of the Eungella National Park, which is home to Australia’s largest continuous stretch of sub-tropical rainforest. It’s also one of the best places in Australia to observe a platypus in its natural habitat! There are viewing decks along the Broken River to help you spot them, with optimal viewing times at dawn or dusk.

Tip: For amazing views over the Pioneer Valley below, make sure you take the time to do the Sky Window walk or stop in at the Eungella Chalet. It’s quite often a little cooler up here – the temperature can be up to 10 degrees less than on the coast – so it’s worth bringing some warmer clothes if you’re visiting in the winter months. 

4. Northern Beaches

  • Flying over the Mackay northern beaches
  • Sunset at the northern beaches in Mackay
  • Tropical Mackay Sunset
  • Sunrise over Mackay's Northern Beaches

20 minutes north of the city are the beautiful northern beaches. The longest beach in the region, Black’s Beach, is located here and stretches out over 6km. Other popular places include Eimeo Beach and Bucasia, with volunteer lifeguards patrolling some of these beaches seasonally.

Tip: During the summer months the northern beaches are a great place to spot turtle tracks as the females come in to nest and if you’re lucky you may even spot some baby turtles hatching and scurrying down the beach and swimming off into the ocean for the first time!

5. Mackay City

Right in the heart of Mackay is our beautiful CBD! Set along the banks of the Pioneer River, one of only two blue rivers in Queensland, there's plenty to keep the family entertained here. The Bluewater Quay hosts the Greater Whitsunday Farmers Market every Wednesday, the Bluewater Lagoon is the ideal spot for a refreshing swim and don't forget Lambert's Beach and the whale watching lookout. From July to October each year, thousands of hump back whales migrate up the coast of Queensland and the lookout at Lambert's has sensational views out over the Coral Sea to spot them!

Accommodation in Mackay

Comfort Resort Blue Pacific is located at the beautiful northern beaches and is the perfect place to relax, with three acres of lush tropical gardens right on the beach. When you wake up each morning, you can step outside and onto the sand for a spectacular sunrise. For every day spent here you’ll feel like you’ve been on a weeks’ worth of holidays.

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