Some travellers to Mackay may very well be miners bound for the coal mines of Central Queensland. This city, situated between Brisbane and Cairns, is a solid, industrial city. Not only is it the gateway to the Bowen Basin coalfields – Australia’s single largest coal reserve – the region also produces more than one third of Australia’s cane sugar.
Mackay itself has more than 30 beaches with Harbour Beach, beside the Mackay Marina, being the most popular. The streets boast some striking architecture, the Courthouse and Commonwealth Bank, both built in the latter years of the 19th century, are the standouts, but Mackay has an amazing collection of Art Deco buildings too. Harold V.M. Brown designed 13 buildings in the centre of the city between 1930 and 1940 and while walking the streets visitors will notice sunbursts and fountains and other decorative features. The Artspace Mackay is also a standout structure. It’s the modern art gallery that hosts local, national and international exhibitions. The Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens is one of Australia’s newest gardens and it’s a beautiful, natural, enormous garden.
Offshore there are several islands within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park including Brampton, Keswick and Scawfell. West of the town is the stunning Eungella National Park and Pioneer Valley.
Mackay has a tropical climate. The summers (December to February) are hot and wet with temperatures reaching 30 C (86 F). The breeze blowing in from the sea keeps the summer months comfortable. The winters (June to August) are warm and sunny, and temperatures hover between 21 and 25 C (70 and 80 F). Most of the rain falls between December and March while August and September are the driest months. The cyclone season runs from December to April and thunderstorms are a possibility between late spring (November) and early autumn (March).
December to the end of January and the Easter school holidays are high season times in Mackay. Another peak time is in June for the River Sessions Festival and July for the Mackay Region Festival of Arts. The whale-watching season runs from July to September and crushing season is also around the same time (July to November).
The low season in Mackay follows Easter (March or April) and runs until mid-September.
Mid-January to Easter is shoulder season in Mackay.
There are several car-rental companies at the airport along with taxis and shuttles services.
Renting a car is a must if you’re hoping to explore the Mackay region. There are some bus services, operated by Mackay Transit. The CBD is the best-covered area. Buses run from north to south Mackay and east to Mirani. Taxis are available.