Discover The Hidden Gems: 8 Exciting Things to Do in Mackay

Rainbow in mackay
Mackay City - image by Kenneth Driver , on Unsplash

Located along the coastlines of Northern and Central Queensland, this scenic tropical city is truly a hidden gem. There are so many things to do in Mackay, and this city offers an array of activities and attractions, from trekking in Australia’s largest subtropical rainforest and spending time at pristine beaches to visiting national heritage sites. Mackay will steal your heart and leave you yearning for more!

Whether you’re an adventure seeker, nature lover, adrenaline junkie, or history buff, this scenic, mesmerizing city has everything you need.

1. Coastal Escapade 

Mackay has some of the most pristine, enthralling beaches. Perfect blue waters, sandy beaches, eye-catching views, what is there not to love? Mackay has 31 beaches in and around the city. These gorgeous beaches offer an escape from the outside world and a chance to unwind and relax.

Welcome to Mackay's Northern Beaches - Australia

Bucasia Park is one of the longest beaches Mackay has to offer. This four-kilometre-long beach has some charming resorts on its beachfront. Lambert’s Beach is probably one of the most incredible spots to go whale-spotting. It simply is the best location to watch the migrating whales pass by.

Want some time away from the crowds? Head down to Dolphin Heads for a secluded experience and epic sea views! Town Beach is the perfect location to spend time with your family. You can do various things here, from sunrise watching to barbecuing.

Want to spend a day of leisure, chilling and enjoying while engaging in sunbathing, surfing, fishing, and kiteboarding? These golden stretches of sand will ensnare your heart with its unique charm.

2. A Closer Look at The Great Barrier Reef 

Mackay is undoubtedly one of the best spots for snorkelling and diving adventures. Behold the magnificence of the ocean and its wonders! Being a part of the Northern frontier of the Great Barrier Reef, Mackay offers views of gorgeous corals, giant clams, vibrant fish life, turtles, and more!

The vast, stunning coral gardens here are suited to those who can swim. This is because they get to take underwater, up-close pictures of the mind-blowing marine life in their natural habitat. The Great Barrier Reef has abundant interesting underwater things to do!

No trip to Mackay is complete without being captivated by this underwater paradise. Sail over the scenic waters or take a flight to get an aerial view of the stunning locations.

3. Nature’s Glory at Mackay’s National Parks

Have you ever wanted to catch sight of a cute Platypus? Do not fret, folks! Broken River, one of the many attractions offered by Eungella National Park, is the best place to spot a Platypus.

Things to do in Mackay
Image Source: Mackay National Park

Watch as they surface for food and dive back into the waters in the most adorable way possible! Eungella National Park has well-marked trekking routes with breathtaking lookouts, magnificent waterfalls, and lush rainforests. These trails are the stuff of every nature lover’s dreams.

This location combines volcanic rock formations, cascading waterfalls, and lush flora. Finch Hatton Gorge is an attraction you cannot resist visiting. Take a dip and relax your body and soul in the natural swimming holes or rock pools here. Swim in the crystal clear waters and get bewitched by the beauty of the Araluen and Wheel of Fire waterfalls.

Cape Hillsborough National Park is the perfect getaway destination. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this secluded location. Nestled in the lush forest areas and surrounded by beach frontage, this park offers the best of both worlds! Catch sight of various wildlife like kangaroos, wallabies, possums, reptiles, butterflies, and different species of birds. The sunrises here are spectacular!

4. Mackay’s Panoramic Islands 

Mackay is not only blessed with beaches but is also gifted with many picturesque islands. Kenswick Island is not just a lovely location for snorkelling but is also a spot to watch humpback whales in the winter months.

Scawfell Island is the largest island out of the Cumberland group and is home to the ancient Pleistocene reef. Stunning granite cliffs line the coast of Scawfell Island, with large rainforest patches on the mountain slopes.

Home to twelve glorious beaches, Brampton Island boasts an array of natural attractions like grasslands, woodlands, and sheltered bays. Located close by is Carlise Island, a sweet little spot for those who’d love to pitch a tent and spend a night under the stars. Sounds heavenly, right?

5. Mackay Region Botanic Gardens 

mackay botanic gardens
Image Source: Mackay Region Botanic Gardens 

Witness the beauty of tropical flora from Mackay, native plants of Australia, and other exotic plants at the Mackay Region Botanic Gardens. Located just five kilometres from the Mackay City Centre, this location offers a peaceful escape and a chance to indulge in the natural glory.

Ever heard of themed gardens? Check the various themed gardens like:

  • The Japanese Gardens
  • The luxuriant Fernery
  • The Regional Forest
  • The Native Plant Garden
  • The Tropical Shade Garden
  • The unique Coal Garden.

They even have an entire lagoon filled with water lilies! Educate yourself about various flora and fauna with a guided tour. Or take a break and chill at a cafe surrounded by nature!

6. Mackay Historical Society Museum 

Travel back in time and delve into the rich history of Mackay and the Pioneer Valley at the Mackay Museum. Learn about Mackay, the largest sugarcane-growing region in Australia, and gain insight into this city’s steady progress into a provincial town.

Located in the oldest building in Mackay, this museum features a variety of displays, local artefacts, and photographs. There is a research area with a reference library showcasing the region’s deep history dating back to the 2nd World War.

7. Celebrate the local Festivals of Mackay 

Move and groove at the River Sessions Music Festival, held annually in June. This single-day festival has drawn tourists and music lovers to Mackay since 2014.

Festival Hub - 2023 Mackay Festival of Arts

It showcases incredible talent and the best performers and artists Australia has to offer. Every genre, like rock, hip-hop, folk, pop, indie, and dance music, is featured at this festival. Want to vibe to cool music and have a great time? Make sure to attend the River Sessions Festival!

Mackay Festival of Arts is a series of art festivities, events, and music festivals celebrated throughout July. Celebrate the region’s cultural spirit with the locals and participate in the pomp and splendour!

8. Other Outdoor Activities in Mackay

Bike or trek along the Bluewater Trails and take in the splendid views. Enjoy watching the stunning array of birds and other wildlife this trail offers.

Get up to Lambert’s lookout and watch the pretty sunset in a windy setup. This spot also has telescopes set up for viewing turtles and birds. But it is best suited to spot whales during migrating season.

Want to try something unique and fun? Visit one of the many rum distilleries and sugar sheds available to tourists all over the city. Get a closer insight into the art of cultivating sugarcane and learn the science behind brewing rum.


Mackay is a haven of natural beauty and rich heritage, offering visitors a chance to connect and become one with nature. This city has something for everyone. Mackay has everything from excellent beaches and lush natural settings to exquisite culture and heritage. It caters to all your desires and captivates your senses. Visit Mackay, Australia, and make some everlasting memories!


  1. I did not know you could find platypus in MacKay! I did hear you could spot humpback whales though. I am wondering if this is a conserved area. The Great Barrier Reef can be accessed from there, you know. As an international traveler would one need any special permit to visit the islands?

  2. I was searching some places to visit. Surprising your article popped up.. and now I am excited to visit all these places.

  3. I have never been to Mackay but after going through your post, I am planning to be there as Great Barrier Reef is one of my favorite places to visit. Also, like you mentioned it is good for diving adventures I am also an adventure loving person and want to explore many of the places you mentioned like Mackay Region Botanic Gardens, because it sounds like a peaceful place.


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