Often overlooked by tourists, Mackay offers a wealth of hidden gems, including attractive tropical streets, art deco buildings and winding mangroves.
Mackay's tourism industry is still in its early stages, which means it's a great place to visit before it becomes another identikit resort town. The town caters heavily for the agriculture and marine industries meaning it's still got an air of authenticity and community spirit, while the redeveloped marina with its al fresco restaurants, outdoor cafes and picturesque promenade is the first sign of a more tourism focused future.
For a relatively small city, there's a lot to see and do in Mackay:
- Head to the picturesque beach settlement of Ball Bay, 35 kilometres north of Mackay
- Visit the purebred bees on Keswick Island and sample their honey for a true taste of sweet, tropical island life - only 40 minutes on the ferry
- Enjoy a refreshing swim in Mackay's Bluewater Lagoon, the fun of the beach within the city
- Discover the arts and culture of the Mackay region when you visit Artspace Mackay, the regional art gallery and museum in the centre of the city.
Laidback tropical Mackay and the surrounding region is a wonderfully inviting mix of city, beach and country.
Mackay City and Marina
Mackay has a varied and interesting history, with hints of its past and future everywhere you look.
You’ll see public art at Bluewater Quay embracing the heritage and industry of the region as well as the heritage listed Leichhardt Tree, which the first settlers tied their ships to when first exploring and settling the region. As you stroll the CBD you’ll notice the many impressive art deco buildings, built following the Great Cyclone of 1918. For some nature in the heart of the city try the Botanic Gardens, and further to Queens Park where you’ll find a large collection of beautiful orchids at Ken Burgess Orchid House.
Enjoy waterfront views at Mackay’s modern marina. Watch luxury yachts gently bobbing on the harbour as you savour the casual cuisine along the palm fringed promenade. Nearby Harbour Beach is a popular area for swimming and beachside barbeques, plus you can hire scooters if you're wanting to explore further. A short drive from the Mackay Marina is Slade Point, where an elevated lookout provides glorious panoramic views out towards the southern islands of the Great Barrier Reef. At the foot of the lookout, Lamberts Beach is a family-friendly picnic location, with shady trees, a children’s playground and a patrolled beach.
Just 150 kilometres north of Mackay, in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef lies the spectacular Whitsundays.
The Whitsundays has so much to offer, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Base yourself at one of the renowned island resorts such as Hamilton Island, One & Only Hayman Island or Daydream Island, and spend your days exploring by boat. Most of the 74 stunning tropical islands that make up The Whitsundays are uninhabited; cruise through the islands, snorkel through the sparkling waters or walk along the spectacular Whitehaven Beach.
For land lovers, the Whitsunday Coast has amazing diversity to explore with secluded beaches such as Hydeaway Bay, the ecologically diverse Eungella National Park, or the coastal town of Airlie Beach. Get off the beaten track amongst the hillside national park trails on foot or mountain bike.
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Mackay enjoys stunning weather year round with hot summers and warm, sunny winters. Cooled by breezes off the coast, nights can be cool in winter while summer sees the arrival of the wet season from December to March. Maximum temperatures range from 30°C in summer to 21°C in winter.
From the airport
Mackay Airport is quite centrally located as airports go, so getting to and from the city centre is a relatively easy affair.
If you're visiting the region the best option is to hire a car so you can explore and take in the sights in your own time. Qantas Frequent Flyers can earn Qantas Points^ when booking with Avis and Budget, while you can enjoy great rates and no booking fee with all our car rental partners.
The alternative option is to book a taxi. Mackay Whitsunday Taxis provides door to door services, covering from Sarina in the south to Airlie Beach in the north.
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