Surprise, surprise! All is A-Okay in Mackay, QLD

A boat-load of appeal: Welcome to Mackay.

The well-travelled team at Zahlis Big Lap weren’t sure what to expect when they visited Mackay for the first time. Turns out they were in for a pleasant surprise…

The Zahlis family pose with a beach-going kangaroo of Cape Hillsborough National Park.

Have you ever visited a location with absolutely no expectations whatsoever?

Well, for us, the QLD coastal city of Mackay was one of those places. We thought it would be a typical ‘mining’ town.

After arriving, it was safe to say we loved Mackay.

Actually, that would be an understatement. We loved it that much we even checked out jobs, houses, and had a decent look around the city contemplating a return after our trip.

In love: There's plenty to like about Mackay. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Mackay itself is a rather large place with approximately 120,000 residents, and it has absolutely everything you need.

Esplanades, boat harbours, swimming pools, shopping centres, affordable housing, and plenty of jobs.

It’s located almost 1000km north of Brisbane and 400km south of Townsville.

Close by is iconic Cape Hillsborough National Park, which is a must-see in the area and famous for its stunning sunrises with kangaroos along the beach.

Cape Hillsborough National Park is iconic. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Recently, we spent a week at Mackay Marine Tourist Park. This place had lush green unpowered and powered sites, including ensuite sites, and plenty of cabins suitable for most budgets.

Also on offer was mini-golf, a splash park, two swimming pools, a jumping pillow, and a playground for the kids, which we all took full advantage of. 

Fun central: This Zahlis' drone pic shows many of the awesome facilities of Mackay Marine Tourist Park.

There are barbecue areas for the adults, wetlands to embrace the serenity, and it is only a short drive to the CBD or the marina. And that’s if you decide to even leave the park.

What to see and do in Mackay

There were many highlights in and around the city. If you’re looking for things to see and do in Mackay, we suggest the following:

Take a harbour walk

An evening stroll along the stunning paved harbour path is hard to beat. We dreamed about what houseboat we would love to own while the sun went down and the dolphins came out to play. You can fish along the boat harbour, which is an easy 3km return walk from start to finish.

There is plenty of opportunity to stroll or cycle along dedicated paths in Mackay. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Splash around at Mackay public lagoon

Mackay has a public lagoon, which is free and open daily with lifeguards on duty, splash parks, a waterslide, barbecue area, changerooms, and a café. The kids loved splashing around with the locals.

The public lagoon has strong appeal for families.

Explore Finch Hatton Gorge, Eungella National Park

A trip to Eungella National Park was well worth the drive. It has a large variety of walks for all fitness levels. We chased waterfalls and searched for platypuses at Finch Hatton Gorge.

Unfortunately, we didn’t see any platypuses, but we were lucky enough to see plenty of turtles. The best times to see platypuses are 7-10am and 3-6pm in their feeding times.

Even if platypuses elude you, Eungella National Park is highly rewarding for visitors.

Free activities in Mackay

Don’t forget to make use of Mackay’s free activities, such as story time each Thursday morning in the library. Travelling can be tough, and we find that the occasional downtime does the children and us parents the world of good.

Elsewhere, don’t miss Mackay’s wonderful collection of art deco buildings, which you can check out on a self-guided heritage walk.

Also, did you know Mackay has access to the Great Barrier Reef? We didn’t. Just another bonus for this exciting city!

Take a self-guided tour and admire Mackay’s many art deco buildings

This article first appeared at

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