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8 reasons you should head to Mackay with the family

A pretty city of Art deco buildings, cute cafes and palm-tree lined streets, Mackay is best known as Australia’s sugar capital. But the northern Queensland hot spot is also home to 31 heavenly beaches, lush wildlife-packed rainforests, great accommodation for kids, an impressive food scene, and beautiful weather all year round, making it a paradise for holidaying families.

Here are 8 reasons why Mackay should be at the top of your list for your next family holiday.

1. Without doubt the highlight of any visit to the Mackay region is sunrise with the kangaroos and Wallabies at Cape Hillsborough. The reliable marsupials arrive before sunrise every morning to forage on the beach. Make an occasion of it with a stay at Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort and Tourist Park with its range of accommodation including family cabins and sites for tents and caravans, swimming pool, mini golf, access to awesome walking trails, a beautiful beach and loads of organised activities for kids.

2. You can enjoy waffles with a side of platypus spotting at Broken River. There’s a 95% chance of spotting one of the cute critters in the river during the day, and an even higher chance early in the morning and in the late afternoon when the weather is cooler. When you’ve finished hunting for platypus, we recommend trying the restaurant’s fabulous waffles and their incredible crocodile burger, which my son rates just about the tastiest burger ever.


3. Take an easy hike through the rich, luscious rainforest at Eungella National Park for gorgeous views from the the Sky Window, or to the swimming hole at Araluen Falls in breathtaking Finch Hatton Gorge. Strewn with giant boulders and encircled by cliffs, the freshwater pool is decidedly brisk but a pretty special place for a swim.

4. On the way back to Mackay city, you can make a pit stop at the historic Pinnacle Family Hotel in the Pioneer Valley for a pie to remember. Handmade daily from local ingredients, these massive, award-winning pies come in 11 fabulous flavours and are so good you’ll be tempted to come back to try them all.

5. Mackay is quite literally surrounded by sugar cane fields, and the Sarina Sugar Shed is the place for kids to learn how sugar is grown, processed, milled and distilled. They have a unique miniature working sugar mill– the only one of its kind in Australia, where the kids can see sugar cane turned from plant to produce. The bonus fairy floss at the end also sweetens the deal.


6. With Mackay on the doorstep of the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and 31 breathtaking beaches in the region, visitors can enjoy plenty of fun in and on the water. Grab a kayak, set sail or take a cruise to one of the gorgeous islands just offshore, including the extraordinarily pretty Brampton and Keswick Islands, and waters packed with marine life including dugongs and turtles. It is also a popular spot for whale watching during the migration season.

7. There’s plenty of ways to get wet. Besides all those lovely beaches, there’s the Bluewater Lagoon, a free three-tiered lagoon swimming pool, with areas for all abilities, overlooking the pretty Pioneer River in the heart of Mackay. Or stay at the BIG4 Mackay Marine Tourist Park, just a few minutes from the Mackay Marina precinct and the CBD, where there’s a kids’ water park and a pool that you’ll struggle to drag the kids away from.

8. The ultimate way to see Mackay is from the sky. Enjoy a breathtaking joy flight with Regional Air Charters for bird’s eye views over the area’s lush volcanic landscape and tapestry of farms right out and over the beautiful blue waters and pretty islands of the reef.


When she’s not treading on Lego and being forced to watch Frozen on loop, Aleney de Winter is a travel, food and parenting writer. She shares tales of travelling and eating along with the hilarious antics of her globetrotting six-year old foodie son and daredevil three-year old daughter on her blog, Boy Eats World.

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