The Mackay Region in southern coastal Queensland offers vacationers a wide variety of options from Great Barrier Reef excursions and island adventures to inland mountains, national parks, and rivers. Nearby Eungella National Park is the best place in the world to see the Platypus in their natural environment. The city of Mackay is a bustling hub of Australia’s sugar production and is situated on the Pioneer River. There is a great deal of beautiful accommodations for all tastes and budgets and different places to explore in the Mackay Region.
Mackay Skyline Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Mackay National Parks Map Photo Credit: Google Maps
Getting to the Mackay Region and Surrounds
Mackay Map Photo Credit: Google Maps
Mackay Car Rental Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
Mackay is a coastal city located in central Queensland and adjacent to the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef. Vacationers in Mackay often venture out to the Great Barrier Reef, and also to the nearby Whitsunday Islands. Have your own rental car to motor around the city is the best way to see everything because there is so much to do inland and just to the north and northwest of Mackay. There are a total of 26 national parks in the Mackay region and nearby Prosperine, so there is much to see and do; having a car at your disposal to come and go as you please can often make your holiday much more enjoyable when you get to see more on your own time. You can rent a car at either one of the two car hire locations in Mackay. Hire a car in Mackay at the city location or you can visit Mackay airport car rental location. When you pick up your rental car, be sure to check with your car rental agent about any safety and driving restrictions that they have for the area.
Things to do and see in the Mackay Region
Mackay Harbour Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Mackay Marina Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
There is something for vacationers in every direction you turn in Mackay. To the east is the Coral Sea, there are a few island destinations just off the coast of Mackay and then further north is the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. If you follow the Pioneer River inland to the west and the north, you will find mountains, rainforest, and many of Queensland’s national parks. There is something for every vacationer’s taste and budget. When staying in the city of Mackay, experience the laid back village atmosphere and mild temps. The Mackay Harbour Marina offers visitors a place to eat, shop, and enjoy the nearby beaches of the esplanade. Fishing charters and other boating excursions leave from the marina daily.
Eungella National Park
Sky Window Circuit Trail Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Araluen Falls in Eungella National Park Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Eungella National Park is on the top of the list of the places to visit near Mackay. Just 90 kilometres west of Mackay, Eungella is a vast national park covers a large and varied stretch of land including the Clarke Range Mountains, the Pioneer Valley, and is considered the longest continuous stretch of sub-tropical rainforest in all of Australia. You can spend an afternoon exploring the park or stay for an extended vacation. Eungella is an aboriginal name meaning “land of the clouds”. The name comes from the Wirri people are the original inhabitants of Eungella National Park. The weather in Eungella is usually about 10 degrees cooler than at the coast making the temps delightful for bushwalking through the 22 kilometres of different trails that are throughout the park. There are a wide variety of walking trails from short and easy walks like the Sky Window Circuit to an advanced level mountain track that takes 5 days to complete. That is the Mackay Highlands Great Walk, which is 56 kilometres long.
Finch Hatton Gorge Photo Credit: queenslandholidays.com.au
Finch Hatton Gorge within the Eungella National Park is a beautiful spot with waterfalls, crystal clear pools and streams. It is home to unique and rare plants and animals including the orange sided skink and the gastric brooding frog. More than 220 bird species call the park home as well as over 800 plant species. There are a few different camping options and picnic facilities can also be found throughout the park.
Photo Credit: nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/eungella
Undoubtedly the star of Eungella National Park is the platypus. The park is the best place in the world to spot the illusive and shy creatures. Chances are you will definitely see some platypuses while in the park; to increase your chances of catching a glimpse of these odd mammals, they are most active early morning and late afternoon and the best times of year is June through August. Even though platypus look adorable, beware, they are actually one of the few mammals that are venomous. Other odd features of the platypus is that they are the only mammals that lay eggs rather than give birth to live young and they are a strange mix with a duck bill, beaver tail, and otter-like feet.
Cape Hillsborough National Park
Cape Hillsborough National Park Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Cape Hillsborough National Park Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough National Park Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Cape Hillsborough is located about 50 kilometres to the north of Mackay and is less than an hour drive. As indicated, by being a cape, the park is located right on the coastline with some amazing views whether you are looking out to the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea, or inland to the rugged features that have been carved into the land over the last 13 million years from lava flows. Bushwalking trails are available for all walking abilities so that everyone who visits the park has a chance to explore the diversity of the park’s rain forest, eucalypt forest, volcanic rock formations, headlands that are covered in hoop pines, and of course, the beaches. It is an amazing place to discover nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of every day crowds. The most popular walking trail in the park is the Juipera Plants Trail. This is a 1.6 kilometre walk where you can learn about, and see first-hand, how the Juipera Aboriginals (also sometimes Yuibera) used the park’s native plants for survival. In addition to spectacular views, you can also learn about the history and culture of the original inhabitants of this land survived for tens of thousands of years. There are picnic and barbeque facilities as well as public toilets available in the park. If you want to stay overnight in the park, accommodations are available at the Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort. The resort offers a choice of accommodations from beachfront huts to caravan or camping areas and also motel rooms for the less adventurous camper. The waters of the Coral Sea just off the coast of Cape Hillsborough is protected by the Great Barrier Reef National Park; fishing and boating charters are available and leave straight from the park.
Pioneer Valley Scenic Drive
Melba House Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Take a drive through Aussie history from Mackay through the Pioneer Valley. If you are looking for a relaxing day to experience the local culture and learn about the history of the area, this scenic, relaxing drive is for you. Pass through cane fields and small, quaint towns such as Marion. There you will find the Historic Melba House, former home and current museum of Nellie Melba, famous opera singer. The Melba House is also the Pioneer Valley information centre. You can plan your day in the valley there. You can have lunch in the famous Pinnacle Pub, catch the Pioneer Valley Show in winter, and also learn about history and aboriginal stories in the Marian Museum.
Northern Beaches Eimeo Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Northern Beaches Bucasia Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
The Northern Beaches of Mackay are just 15 minutes north of Mackay’s city centre. Once there you will wonder where all the people went and why no one else knows about these beautiful and secluded beaches. This is where the Queensland locals often go to get away from it all. If you decide to take a drive here to spend the day, you will see why. The beach views here are spectacular. Resort lunches with million dollar views make for a wonderful afternoon visit.
Mackay’s Island Getaways
Mackay and Islands Photo Credit: Google Maps
If you crave the ocean adventures but want to be more immersed in the island lifestyle, checkout some of the islands just off the coast of Mackay. You have a choice of your paradise between Keswick Island, Newry Island, and Brampton Island. Each island is part of the southern portion of the Whitsunday Islands and is also its own national park, protected by the Queensland national park authority.
Brampton Island National Park
Brampton Island Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Brampton Island National Park is one of the southern islands to the Whitsunday Passage; it is made up of Brampton Island and the Carlisle Islands. Located a short boat ride off shore north of Mackay, the islands are adjacent to Eungella National Park. They are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, which also protects the surrounding waters. The Ngaro people are the original inhabitants of this sea country. Once on the island, enjoy the unspoiled beaches or head inland to traverse the walking trails of the rocky headlands covered in hoop pines, grasslands, and woodlands. Explore the diverse ecosystem including sheltered bays, rainforest gullies, and eucalypt forestland. Marine life abounds in this untouched paradise.
Newry Island National Park
Newry Island Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Newry Island is nestled in close to the coastline that is just north of Mackay. A 5 kilometre private boat charter takes you to this island paradise. Enjoy a peaceful and relaxing day on the beach or meandering through the Newry Island Circuit trail which takes you through rainforest and open forest in this remote island. This location was once home to one of the first island resorts of the Whitsundays, but the resort is now in ruins and part of the history of this area.
Keswick Island National Park
Keswick Island Photo Credit: MackayRegion.com
Keswick Island is known as “the hidden gem of the Mackay Region”. It is just minutes away by air charter or a 32 kilometre boat ride from the coast of Mackay. This island and national park is the southernmost island in the Whitsunday Islands chain. It is known for its laid back island atmosphere where locals and visitors are usually happy to see that the most bustling activity on the island is made by the native bees there that make the famous Keswick Island dark honey. The beaches and sheltered bays of the island are arguably some of the best sights in The Great Barrier Reef filled with colourful coral gardens and unique marine life. Diving here is world class because of that as well as three dive wreck sites nearby. Guest accommodations on the island are available to fill a range of tastes and include guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, and upscale resorts.