Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Mackay

  • Published 2020/10/24

Blessed with breathtaking, natural wonders is the city of Mackay, located along the coast of Queensland. Tropical rainforests, national parks and wilderness fill the area, where people are seen having relaxing picnics and hiking trips around. It is here that you will find rows and rows of Sugarcane – Mackay, in fact, is well-known for sugarcane farming. With 31 beaches, a beautiful rainforest and the famed Great Barrier Reef, Mackay is something you’d wish to go when you need a natural relaxation spot.

Bluewater Lagoon

Bluewater Lagoon

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If you are looking for a fun place to spend your time in Mackay, look no further than the Bluewater Lagoon! It is a three-tiered paradise of lagoon pools, which are the safest swimming places in the entire Mackay Central Business District. Along with the three pools, there is also a children’s water playground – complete with a water slide and a water drop-bucket – as well as a feature waterfall and a shallow pool, ideal for wading. There are lifeguards stationed across the expanse, which offers an extra layer of protection for people, especially children. There is a café on-site, while the cafés and restaurants parallel to the Pioneer River are at two minutes distance. Since admission to the lagoon is free of cost, anyone can visit and experience the water-y fun!

Eimeo Beach

Eimeo Beach

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Mackay is blessed with lovely beaches – and one of them is the Eimeo Beach. If you are the one to like swimming in the sea more than a swimming pool, then Eimeo Beach is a perfectly amazing and safe swimming spot. It is located at a 15-minute distance from Mackay’s Central Business District. Just around the beach is Mango Avenue, which is a heritage-listed attraction and forms a beautiful, leafy canopy above the streets. Another beautiful attraction of the beach is the picturesque Eimeo Esplanade. It includes picnic tables, large trees, hygienic public toilets, freshwater showers, barbecue facilities and even drinking fountains and a play area for children. If you are not sure how to spend the day, heading to Eimeo Beach is always the right choice.


If you wish to discover the culture and arts of Mackay, then Artspace – located right in the heart of the city – is the place for you! It is the regional art centre and museum, nestled in an award-winning architectural façade. The ample exhibits and displays of the place are perfect to know more about Mackay’s history. It is operated by the Mackay Regional Council and is always eager to organize a variety of cultural services, ranging from multi-purpose functions, seminars and lectures to presentations, reading rooms and not to forget guided tours. Volunteer guides are available at hand, all of whom are well-trained, knowledgeable and friendly. Artspace is truly an artistic creation, immortalizing Mackay’s essence in a way everyone can gaze upon and marvel at.

Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens

Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens

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Now that you have learned about the Mackay history and culture, it is time to dive deep into the flora of the place. Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens preserve just exactly that – a variety of flora from Mackay and the Whitsundays as well as a selection of beautiful native and exotic plants. It opened in the year 2003 and has many facilities catering to the visitors’ needs, including three kilometres of walking trails, ample spots for bird watching, a café and a gallery to gaze over the wild and lively lagoons. The Botanic Gardens also have a number of Feature gardens, including a beautiful fernery, rare and exotic flora of the tropical Shade Garden, among others. Get your fill of nature here!

Cape Hillsborough National Park

Cape Hillsborough National Park

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The amazing nature of Mackay has sprouted many natural attractions around the area and one of them is Cape Hillsborough National Park. It is filled with so many habitats; right from dense rainforest to beautiful mangroves – you just have to name it. The place was once occupied by Yuibera Aboriginal tribe, who lived there for more than a thousand years. It was in the year 1770 that the place got its name as Cape Hillsborough, bestowed upon it by James Cook, an explorer. To know more about these people and their lives, the Diversity Boardwalk and Yuibera plant trail are certainly a good idea. The park is teeming with wildlife and is quite an ideal place to spend time with your loved ones amidst calming nature.

Public Art Trail

Would you like to walk on a road that screams ‘art’ at every step? Then the Public Art Trail in Mackay is the one for you! It is one of the recently developed art projects in Australia, made up of six beautiful installations, designed by Fiona Foley, an artist based in Queensland. Since the trail runs along the city’s Bluewater Pioneer River, it is also referred to as the Bluewater Public Art Trail. Foley has done commendable research on the local communities of Mackay, the Indigenous Yuibera tribe and the South Sea Islander communities – and all of this study shine in her works. All of the artworks are extremely unique, and some of them is literally stacks of Sugar Cubes, a 9.5m weathered steel Mangrove Pod and the word YUWI, written in huge red letters.

Heritage Trail

Now that you have walked through the art trail, it is now time to visit the history of Mackay. The Heritage Trail of the city might be a less travelled trail, but worth it, nonetheless. It runs from the Bowen Basin Mines and terminates at the port handling the export to the overseas customers. Also referred to as the Heritage and Mining Trail, it is filled with absolutely breathtaking landscapes, mining communities, towns from the earlier times and unique works made by the locals. The trail starts at Nebo, promising exhilarating Outback experience, and weaves through Sarina, Copperfield, Clermont and Moranbah. A trail full of mines, museums, mountain ranges, sea and rural charm, don’t miss out on the heritage trail when in Mackay.

Mackay Marina

Mackay Marina

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Literally described as ‘no place better’, Mackay Marina is a world-famous coastal community in Mackay, located at the Southern Whitsundays’ Gateway. The area is a residential village, with enough accommodations options, shops and restaurants. As for the Marina, there are more than 400 berths, suitable for all kinds of vessels, even from 10 metres to a whopping 55 metres. The Marina is a certified Clean Marina as well as the only Queensland marina which is Fish-friendly. It has, in fact, been bestowed the honour of ‘Marina of the Year’ twice till date. The people of the village are welcoming and friendly, making you feel right at home at this ‘100 magic miles’.

Shoal Point

Shoal Point

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The Northern Beaches group of Mackay is a stunning cluster – and one of them is Shoal Point, a beautiful community along the sandy beach. On the days of low tide, the beach almost feels like a tiny desert, with hundreds of metres of sand stretching around, with a picturesque view of Green Reef Island. Hundreds and thousands of blue Soldier Crabs crowd over the mudflats, weaving up and down in the sand. There is an esplanade park, which has a couple of picnic tables, barbecues and a playground. Shoal Point is quite an ideal place to enjoy peaceful sunsets, while you gently shove your toe in the sand and kick back with some snacks and drinks.

Pioneer Valley

Pioneer Valley

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While Pioneer Valley is one of the prominent sugar canes growing places in Australia, it is also one of the best tourists’ spots in Mackay. It runs across the small towns of Marian, Mirani, Pinnacle and Finch Hatton and is quite a scenic drive through the places. The entrance to the valley is from Marian, where the region’s largest sugar mill stands tall – as tall as the Melba House, the marital house of the famous Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian opera singer. The Pinnacle Family Hotel, located in Pinnacle, offers an amazing selection of menu; make sure you try their delicious Pinnacle Pie and the crumbed steak. Last but not the least, the Finch Hatton Gorge – and Eungella National Park, further inland – is where you can get the quintessential Pioneer Valley experience!

Finch Hatton Gorge

Finch Hatton Gorge

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Mackay is well-known as a natural paradise for a reason – right from forests to even beautiful gorges, the city has it all. One of these natural wonders is the Finch Hatton Gorge, a picturesque cluster of waterfalls, immersed in lively flora and lined with volcanic boulder formations. Located between the Eungella National Park and Mackay, the gorge offers a huge picnic area, complete with a BBQ, toilets and other facilities. A number of animals and birds found their home in the area, including bush turkey, azure kingfisher, monitor lizard, Eungella honeyeater and even flying fox. There are a couple of beautiful walking trails, some shorter than the others, leading to different natural destinations. A refreshing outburst of nature in the middle of urbanization, Finch Hatton Gorge is a must-visit, when in Mackay!

Eungella National Park

Eungella National Park

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One of the most ecologically developed parks, not just in Mackay, but in the whole of Queensland is the mesmerizing Eungella National Park. More than 850 species of flora and diverse wildlife grace their presence to the park, it is a mist-clad, natural paradise high in the plains. Along with the Broken River and the Pioneer Valley, another one of the attractions is the far-reaching Mackay Highlands Great Walk, stretching 56 kilometres across the place. The park offers camping facilities as well as picnic tables, public toilets, lookouts and a couple of walking and cycling trails. If peace and adventure – which are perceived to be such stark opposites – can be blended in one place, it will only be at Eungella National Park!

Broken River

Can a river ever be broken? If your answer is no, then take a moment to read about the Broken River in Mackay. It is located in the Eungella National Park and is considered to be one of the best places in the world for platypus gazing. The river offers a continuous stretch of sub-tropical rainforest, where you can enjoy bushwalking, have a quiet picnic or trot on the beautiful boardwalk. There are many viewing decks in the river area, which offer a complete view of the shy platypuses in the river. Try to visit in the early morning or late afternoon – that’s when the chances to look at these creatures are highest. Broken River might be broken, but its spirit is not!

GoWake Cable Park

GoWake Cable Park

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Right in the heart of Mackay is Australia’s latest Cable Wake park, where you can enjoy wakeboarding, an amazing type of water sport. The beach and the reefs right beside the park are more than ideal for wakeboarding and even kneeboarding. The cable park provides training in these two water sports, for beginners and guide them till they are masters in their desired sport. Along with that, basic equipment, safety measure and even dock coaching are given to people enrolled. The cable park is quite a wholesome one, with disabled-friendly access, free WiFi internet for visitors, craft coffee espresso bar, picnic area and BBQ and clean public toilets are provided for all.

Bucasia Beach

Bucasia Beach

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While beaches are a common thing in Mackay, what makes Bucasia Beach unique is the fact that it is one of the longest beaches in the region. It is a sandy, glittering paradise, where people usually crowd for swimming, walking and even fishing. Stretching four kilometres across the horizon, the beach offers a couple of accommodations, if visitors are keen to stay near the waters all the time. Just at the southern end of the beach is a perfect fishing location, where one can fish for Flathead during high tide. The Bucasia Esplanade offers a number of recreational facilities, a café, including picnic tables, BBQs, water fountains and an adequate children’s park. This pet-friendly beach is a treat – for the eyes as well as for the soul.

Referred to as the ‘Sugar Capital’ of Australia, Mackay is more than just a coastal city. The way it is strategically placed in Queensland makes it a popular place with tourists, thus promoting the overall development of the city. With the tropical sun shining over the natural wonder that Mackay is, it is more than easy to fall in love with its coastal, sugarcane-y charm.

Discover More About Orchids at Mackay Orchid House

Mackay Orchid House is a hidden gem with a well-organized orchid exhibit including many different kinds.

It is one of the biggest attractions of its sort in Australia.

Stunning and odd-looking exotic and native Australian orchids may be seen in the Mackay Orchid House.

Although some ground-dwelling orchids are in the collection, tree- and rock-dwelling orchids make up the majority of them.

Enjoy some time simply walking around the countless species of stunning orchids.

Given the abundance of orchids there, you might easily spend a few hours identifying species.

Take Time to Shop at Caneland Central

Caneland Central is the go-to destination for shopping in the Mackay area.

It is the main retail complex in Mackay which is situated close to the heart of the city.

Caneland Central boasted the sole Reids Department Store, Woolworths, Big W, and 60 specialized retailers in the area when it first opened in March 1979.

About 180 retailers now call the center home after four decades of growth.

A fun fact is that Caneland Central is a pioneer in the field of shopping center sustainability and is continually changing to guarantee that it keeps being greener.

Learn about the newest trends for the year and refresh your appearance with bright hues, boots, clothing, and fresh winter flowers!

Tour around the Greenmount Homestead

Greenmount Homestead, specially designed by William Sykes and constructed in 1915 by Arthur Carter & Co., is a heritage-listed residence located at Greenmount Road in Walkerston, Mackay Region.

The Cook household, who had resided in this location from 1915, gifted this to Mackay in 1984.

On your tour, you may look at more than 20,000 artifacts, including authentic Cook family furnishings and fixtures.

There are several outbuildings, such as a blacksmith’s workshop, schoolhouse, garden shed, and storage, in addition to the main house.

The gardens, which include an arbor, fernery, and charming front garden, have been preserved as they were when the Cooks lived there.

Rest and Dine at the Oaks Mackay Rivermarque Hotel

The Oaks Mackay Rivermarque Hotel, which has a view of the famous Pioneer River, is conveniently situated in the middle of Mackay.

Each hotel suite features deluxe fittings and finishes, as well as contemporary kitchenettes, complete laundry facilities, and expansive living and dining rooms.

The Oaks Mackay Rivermarque Hotel offers a luxurious array of recreational amenities, including a spa and a fully-stocked gym.

Furthermore, it offers air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and exclusive balconies with views of the city and river.

One of Mackay’s favorite restaurants, Marque Bar & Grill, is located inside the hotel.

It has a diverse cuisine and exquisitely crafted wooden elements in a modern design.

Enjoy the Sunshine at Harbour Beach

Famous Harbour Beach is a beloved beach for both residents and tourists.

It is a frequently patrolled beach that is only five minutes from Mackay’s Central Business District and is home to the Mackay Surf Lifesaver Club.

The Horse Racing Festival in August, which features races held directly on the Harbour beach draws a sizable crowd and is a significant event on the calendar.

A number of fishing spots are available at Harbour Beach, which is close to the Mackay Harbour Breakwater.

There are also delectable eat-in and take-out options!

Final Thoughts

Mackay, a launching point for the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, is the ideal tourist destination for a summer holiday!

The best things to do in Mackay will sweep you off your feet and take you to places that make you feel close to nature.

Visitors won’t have a dull moment thanks to the variety of beaches, shops, restaurants, and gardens, and you may schedule your day to spend exploring the area.

Unwind, have a refreshing drink, soak up the sun, and get a tan!

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