The centre of Australia's largest sugar growing district, Mackay is the point of departure for a number of barrier reef destinations and for air and launch services to Hook, Brampton, Lindeman and Whitsunday islands to the north.

Where is it?: Mackay is 970 km north of Brisbane, on the Pioneer River, and 150km south of Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays.

Things to see and do

Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens showcases the beautiful tropical flora from Mackay and the Whitsundays, along with other Australian native and exotic plants from similar climates around the world. Feature gardens include the luxuriant Fernery, the Regional Forest, rare and threatened flora of the tropical Shade Garden and the unique Coal Garden - tracing the evolution of plants and the importance of coal. Location: 9 Lagoon Street, West Mackay.

Lookouts: Mount Basset lookout overlooks the harbour; The Rotary lookout is located at North Mackay.

Artspace Mackay

A regional art gallery and museum in the centre of the city of Mackay. The gallery also features an ever changing array of exhibitions drawn from local, interstate and international collections which showcase the talents of Australian artists. Group tours can be booked with well trained volunteer guides who will provide visitors with insights into the exhibitions on display. Facilities include a cafe which overlooks the green gardens of the Mackay Civic Centre Precinct. Location: Civic Centre Precinct, Gordon Street, Mackay.

Surrounding area

Brampton Islands National Park, at the southern entrance to the Whitsunday Passage, consists of Brampton and Carlisle islands. Rocky headlands dotted with hoop pines, open grasslands, woodlands, sheltered bays and long sandy beaches make these islands some of the most scenic off the Queensland coast.

Eungella National Park

Set in mist-shrouded mountains west of Mackay, Eungella National Park (80km west) is one of Queensland’s most ecologically diverse parks. Much of the park is wilderness, dissected by rugged gorges.

Ball Bay

The picturesque beach settlement of Ball Bay (35km north) offers secluded camping on a small grassy campground. Armstrong Beach (46km south) is renowned for its fishing and prawning, both of which are best attempted from the beach.

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Cape Hillsborough

Cape Hillsborough (49km north) is one of the most scenic mainland locations on the central Queensland coast; it features rock-strewn, sandy beaches, hoop pine-dotted hillsides plunging towards the sea, subtropical rainforest and mangrove-fringed wetlands. One of the finest walks in the area is the Beachcomber Cove Track. It starts from the northern end of the Cape Hillsborough picnic area and passes through open eucalypt forest and remnant rainforest with hoop pines, ferns and vines. The track ends in Beachcomber Cove.

Cape Palmerston

Cape Palmerston National Park (115km south east) features sandy dunes, unspoilt beaches and rocky headlands, with Mount Funnel towering to 344 metres.


(92 km south west): being the closest rural and gold mining historical town to Mackay, the Nebo area is the key link to the 1800s and early life in the Mackay Region. The old Nebo Police Station is home to an excellent regional museum about the early days in and around Mackay. Historical sites in the region include Lake Elphinstone, the Mount Britton Gold Mining site, and the intrepid traveller can find the site where Leichhardt camped as he explored the region in 1845. The Mount Britton Collection of paintings, on display at the museum, tell a story about the way of life of the early pioneers.
Location: Reynolds Street, Nebo. Ph (07) 950 5471.

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