Australia’s sugar capital enjoys a sweet reputation for its proximity to the Whitsundays for quick getaways, and its gateway location between Cairns and Brisbane. Mackay, which produces over one third of Australia’s sugar, is perched on the southern backyard of the Great Barrier Reef in close proximity to multiple tropical islands, making it a perfect meet-in-the-middle spot.
Blue water lagoon
Right in the heart of the city, the Bluewater Lagoon is a water park perfect for the whole family as well as backpackers needing to cool down! Set right opposite the main city mall, you can easily spend a day at the Lagoon splashing around in one of the 3 pools without even having to leave the city! A great place to balance out that tropical heat, the Bluewater Lagoon is certainly one of the top 10 free things to do in Mackay.
Make a visit with platypus
In the waters of Eungella National Park (90 minutes’ drive west of Mackay) there are cheeky platypus that love to frolic. Around dawn and dusk is when you can come to spot them playing and feeding in the water. Maximise your chances and spend the night at Broken River Mountain Resort – an eco-tourism retreat overlooking a platypus habitat. You’re not only likely to spot some of these elusive monotremes, but Eungella’s sub-tropical rainforest is also home to 225 species of birds, and an abundance of spectacular native wildlife.
Cruise the marine
From boat watching in the shadow of the lighthouse to enjoying sunset from Lamberts Beach Lookout or taking a scenic drive to the end of the pier, there’s a huge range of fun free activities to try your hand at down by the Mackay Marina. Harbour beach is a popular spot for swimming and the breakwater is a fishing fanatic’s dream!
Hike your way to happiness
Finch Hatton Gorge is a vast landscape of waterfalls, lush flora and volcanic boulder formations. Discover spectacular walks and freshwater swimming holes to cool off in afterwards. Take a 4.2km stroll through dense tropical rainforest to see the spectacular Araluen and Wheel of Fire waterfalls. After working up a sweat, cool off in the clear rock pools.
Ever tried to master wakeboarding? Now’s your chance – pick up the new skill at the GoWake Cable Park. From beginners to advanced riders honing their skills, everyone can enjoy wakeboarding in a controlled, safe environment. Afterwards, enjoy a well-deserved drink at the lakeside cafe and sunset bar.