Mackay is a compact and diverse city located at the southern gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and northern Queensland. Surrounded by far-reaching fields of sugarcane, it is the region’s sugar processing centre and has a stale reputation as a boring agricultural town of no interest to the traveller. However, it is a unique and well preserved city. The city centre does boast some impressive architecture, with stately heritage buildings and art-deco creations in interesting juxtaposition. It may not have a wide range of sights and attractions, but it is the perfect place to stay and it makes a good base for enjoying the rugged wilderness of the nearby Eungella National Park.
Fishing and swimming are popular at some of Mackay’s northern beaches, where tiny townships and resorts dot the coastline. There are around 30 beaches here, and many of them are often deserted. Windsurfing and kite surfing are great here due to the prevailing winds.
Mackay Transit runs local buses but services are infrequent on some routes and they only go to outlying suburbs, although route 10 goes as far afield as Sarina. Bus fares range from $2.20 to $9.70.
The Mackay Explorer runs a free hourly service every Sunday that takes in the major sights between the City Gates (tourist information centre) and Mackay Marina.