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Mackay is a tropical city on the eastern coast of the Australian state of Queensland, some 900km north of the state capital Brisbane.


The climate is tropical, with daytime temperatures in the coolest month still averaging 22°C, and the coolest nights averaging 12°C. The ocean is also warm year-round. Due to the warm weather, Mackay is noted for its sugar cane industry.


In the last 10 years, Mackay and the surrounding region has seen a massive boom in the coal mining industry with many of its workers and supporting industries setting up shop there. As a result, the cost of living has climbed somewhat and is a source of tension between the very well-paid mine workers and those working in other industries in the town. The town is located by the Pioneer River. It started as a cattle station founded by a Scottish settler called John Mackay.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Mackay Airport (IATA: MKY) is 5km south of the city centre. It has services from QANTAS, Virgin Blue and Jetstar with frequent flights from Brisbane. Qantaslink have services to Cairns, Townsville, and Rockhampton.

By train[edit]

Queensland Rail has twice weekly services running from Mackay to Brisbane on the "Tilt Train"

By car[edit]

The Bruce Highway is the coastal highway between Brisbane and Cairns and passes through Mackay. ThePeak Downs Highway runs from Clermont North-East to terminate in Mackay.

By boat[edit]

Mackay has a extensive marina which is often the first stop for those exploring the Whitsunday Islands, but no regular passenger ferries run at this time.

By bus[edit]

Greyhound bus lines have regular services from Brisbane stopping at the airport and in Mackay itself on the way to Cairns and vice versa.

Get around[edit]

Limited bus services run in the Mackay region. Cars can be hired from the airport by the following operators:

Taxis are available from major shopping centres and individuals can call the service to be picked up from a specified destination.

Bicycles (push bikes) are a good fit for city transportation. Projects are ongoing to expand current bicycle routes, one long route exists from West of the city to the Canelands shopping area.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Harbour Beach, a rather rough beach close to the harbour. East Point Road.
  • The Marina, sporting a pretty harbour, green lawns and many cafés and restaurants. Mulherin Drive.
  • Mackay Regional Botanical Gardens
  • Artspace Mackay, a regional art gallery showing changing exhibitions from national and international artists, as well as a few permanent exhibitions (pottery, prints). Shop and café. Free. Open Tu-Su 10:00-17:00.
  • Historical Farleigh Mill - tours run Monday to Friday during the sugar season: July - November
  • St Paul's United Church, a typical wooden Queensland country church from 1898. 25 Macalister Street.
  • Art Déco Buildings. There are many beautiful buildings from that period in Mackay, mostly in Victoria Street, Sydney Street and Wood Street.
  • Mackay Working Sugar Mill Tour - Visit a working sugar mill. 3 tours run every day. Get up close to the mill and get lots of interesting facts. (Currently the only sugar mill, which does tours along the east coast.)

Do[edit][add listing]

Drink, with over 2 dozen pubs within the heart of the city and more surrounding it. You can always find a place to roll out of.


The main industries in Mackay region are coal mining and export, and sugar cane growing and sugar milling. Mackay is the "Sugar Capital of Australia". Many use Mackay as a stopping point for lucrative mining work in the Bowen Basin of central Queensland.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Mackay has two major shopping centres

  • Mount Pleasant Greenfields located on the Corner Phillip Street and the Bruce Highway

Mount Pleasant (affectionately known by locals as "Mount P") contains major retailers such as

  • K Mart
  • Coles
  • Woolworths

Greenfields is a shopping precinct located across the road from Mount Pleasant. Occupants include:

  • Bunnings Warehouse
  • Spotlight
  • Toys'R'Us
  • Birch Carroll and Coyle Cinema's

Caneland Central is undergoing expansion, it is located on Mangrove Road and includes major retailers such as

  • Target
  • Coles
  • Big W
  • Woolworths
  • Myer
  • Action
  • Best and Less
  • City Beach
  • Rush Surfwear
  • Mathers Shoes
  • Spend Less Shoes
  • Vodafone
  • Crazy Johns
  • Telstra
  • Optus
  • EB Games
  • Tarocash

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Try the eateries at the Marina overlooking the boats - lovely cool breezes. Mid range prices.
  • Malaysia House in the CBD serves delicious and authenticate food in deceptively basic surrounds. Budget prices except for the mudcrab but if you can order the mudcrab in advance, its worth the splurge.
  • Burp in Wood Street has a modern menu and serves consistently good food with attentive service. A great special occasion choice.
  • Woodmans Axe Espresso has a well deserved reputation for making great coffee, the morning queue-up is a small price to pay.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Mackay has some very fine establishments to tip a quiet ale or two. On the outskirts of town to the north-east along the Bruce Highway are two quaint little pubs; The Leap Hotel and the Farview Tavern. Both are excellent locations for grabbing a counter meal whilst overlooking the agricultural views of the Pioneer Valley.

If it is the beach atmosphere that you seek then head to the Eimeo Pub, located to the North of Mackay perched picturesquely on top of a sea cliff. Slightly closer to town is the Seabreeze Tavern, located at Lamberts Beach, 10 seconds walk from the ocean.

For some topless talent and a very fun long lunch you will need to head into town and visit either; Maguires Tavern or Taylors Hotel. A nipple and a smile always kicks the evening off well.

For the remainder of the night there are several other standard pubs and clubs in town, including; Austral Hotel, Imperial Hotel, Kate O'Reillys (Irish Bar), Blue Heelers, Ryans Tavern, Andergrove Tavern, Mount Pleasant Tavern, Boomerang Hotel and the Spotted Dick.

Remember Mackay has dial a driver, so drive in, drink up and get driven home safely.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Comfort Resort Blue Pacific, 26 Bourke Street, Blacks Beach, Mackay 4740, +61 7 4954 9090, [1]. .  edit
  • Clarion Hotel Mackay Marina, Mulherin Drive, Mackay, +61 7 4955-9400, [2]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. 4.5 star Mackay hotel, close to CBD, on site restaurant, buffet breakfast, room service, fitness centre, business center facilities.  edit
  • Quality Inn Marco Polo, 46 Nebo Road, Mackay, 4740 (From the Bruce Hwy, Turn onto Nebo Road. Property located 30 meters North of the Bridge Road, on the Left.), 07 4951 2700, [3]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. The hotel consists of 38 guest rooms including spa suites and features an on-site restaurant.  edit
  • Comfort Inn The Rose, 164 Nebo Road, Mackay, 4740 (From airport, take Bridge Rd., turn left into Nebo Rd. Property is 200 metres (4 turn) on the right.), 07 4957 6572, [4]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. The hotel consists of 28 guest rooms - spa and deluxe suites, and standard rooms. Onsite air-conditioned licensed restaurant and bar.  edit
  • Oaks Carlyle, 23 Alfred Street, +61 7 3246 1614, [5]. checkin: 14:00 hrs; checkout: 10:00 hrs. This hotel is situated in the heart of Mackay city centre and offers 59 contemporary hotel rooms and self contained 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments with modern facilities.  edit
  • Oaks Rivermarque, 55-63 River Street, +61 7 3246 1611, [6]. checkin: 14:00 hrs; checkout: 10:00 hrs. Located in central Mackay. Some of the hotels facilities include Wi-Fi, swimming pool, gym, restaurant and BBQ facilities.  edit


  • Larrikin Lodge, 32 Peel St (south of the river), +61 7 4951-3728. Small and relaxed hostel, friendly management, organizes discounted tours to Eungella National Park,  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Eungella National Park, one of the oldest subtropical rain forests in Australia. Bushwalking, waterfalls, platypus spotting.

Routes through Mackay
BowenProserpine  N noframe S  Rockhampton

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