Mackay, Queensland- Australian Beach Holiday

Mackay is a great holiday destination if golden beaches, tranquil lagoons, exotic bird life and untouched ancient reefs appeal to you. The cruise to Reef Island is a fabulous experience and filled with fun and adventure. You can indulge in diving, snorkeling, bushwalking and camping. Mackay also appeals to Monster Truck Sport fans as it hosts several annual events of the Australian Monster Truck Racing Association. Mackay is equally famous for shopping sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Among all the attractions, the coolest thing you can do at Mackay is to play beach ball with the sea turtles.


Reaching Mackay

Mackay is accessible by Air, Rail and Road. It is situated in central Queensland at about 800kM towards North of Brisbane. By Air it takes 1Hr and 45 min. Qantas and Virgin are the two major airlines running regular flights to Mackay.One can also take a train from Brisbane. Rental cars are the best way to get around Mackay and can be picked up at the airport or from the town.

What to do at Mackay

Mackay is home to some of the most spectacular beaches on the Southern Hemisphere.  There are as many as 30 beaches within 45 minutes’ drive from the City. Blacks beach is one of the longest and is lined with tropical gardens. Harbour beach is very popular with the local community for picnics, fishing and swimming. The best sunrise view is at Illawong beach, just a few minutes’ drive from the city Centre. A beach volleyball court is also available here. Slade point lies in Lambert Beach and is a natural wonder of coastal dunes and paperbark wetlands. It is a favorite hangout for mackerel and reef fish. Slatepoint is also a Whale Watching Center during winters.

Slatepoint has an Indian connection in the form of the legendary Edward Ramaswamy.  He was an expert Snake Handler best known for his work with the Taipan, the most venomous land snake in the world.  Ramaswamy was the driving force behind the development of the Antivenin for Taipan. Ironically, he was bitten by a Taipan in 1956, and his life was saved by using antivenin manufactured from the venom of one of his own snakes. Amazingly he continued to work with his beloved reptiles right up to his death, despite having been crippled for many years as a consequence of polio and much snakebite. In lieu of his contribution, the local government has built a stone memorial and named a Park at Slatepoint after Ramaswamy.

Mackay is a great place for shopping precious stones. Shopaholics can head to ‘That Sapphire Place’ which is located on the Bruce high way to Proserpine, for world class Sapphires, Emeralds and Rubies. The collection also includes Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Opals and Pearls. Window shoppers can just have a look at the precision with which the gem cutters cut the Sapphires.

Mackay is sort of a capital of Monster Truck sport in Australia. AMTRA or the Australian Monster Truck Racing Association which consists  of Monster Truck owners, drivers, sponsors, promoters, officials and fans, hosts events periodically in Mackay. Shows like the ‘Hellraisers of Insanity’ feature performances  like Roly Poly cars, moving motorbike jump and other crazy car stunts.

Sarina Sugar Shed will be fun especially if you are with kids. It is Australia's only fully operational miniature sugar-processing mill and distillery. The local specialty happens to be cane sugar juice, ginger beer and fairly floss. You can also witness how rum and other boozy beverages are made and sample a few! Sarina Sugar Shed is situated off Bruce high way 37kM of Mackay.

The regional Botanic garden, which showcases the flora of the region, is another good place to visit. It has pleasant walking and cycling trails. The wildlife filled lagoons are really beautiful. You can relax in the café  on top of the lagoon to get splendid views. The Lagoon’s Interpretative Gallery hosts exhibitions with an environmental or cultural theme every month.

Another exciting activity at Mackay would be to take a Cruise from Mackay Marina to Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef. You can spend the day in aquatic and remote island exploration. Activities that can be done comprise diving for adventure minded blokes, swimming in the blue ocean, snorkeling, bush walking and camping.

Rainforest Experience: Not to be missed

Forest Flying eco-tourism  provides an ultimate rainforest experience. You can get spectacular view of rainforest of Finch Hatton Gorge from the canopy! An overhead cable and pulley system will take you up 25 meters from the ground and take you through 350 meters across the rainforest. This experience gives you a unique perspective of the fragile habitat of rainforests which account for just 1 % of Australia’s land area, but are home to nearly half of Australia’s bird and plant species, and  2/3rd of fern, bat and butterfly species. Finch Hatton Gorge is located 70km inland from Mackay and the Queensland coast.


A Discovery at Mackay

HMS Endeavour the famous vessel commanded by Captain James Cook, landed in Mackay on June 1st, 1770. Famous Landmarks of today  like Cape Palmerston, Slade Point and Cape Hillsborough were named during that trip. 

For my travelogues on other beaches around the world, visit great beach holidays