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INSIDE 04 08 10 12 18 20 22 24 26 28 30

50 things to do in Mackay 48 hours in the Pioneer Valley 48 hours in the Whitsundays The best of Bowen beaches The best bike rides around Drop a line in Travel the mining trail AARON VANDERKOLK AND HIS DOG DAN AT GRASSHILL BEACH, NEAR ILBILBIE. PHOTO: LOUISE FITZGERALD

Monster food challenges See Mackay from the air The best places to swim


Events calendar

Discover Mackay & Whitsundays is published by Mackay Printing & Publishing, Level 1 , 47 Gordon St, Mackay Q 4740. Discover Mackay & Whitsunday is printed by News Corp Australia 623-645 Flinders St, Townsville

There’s a special charm about the Mackay & Whitsunday region. Locals and visitors agree that this part of Queensland has a little bit of everything --- from coastal and island beauty, to the magnificent valley and the hills beyond. This guide is but a small window into some of the fantastic places to discover in our backyard.

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50. INDULGE IN SOME LOCAL DELICACIES FROM food and wine festivals, to seafood long lunches, Eat Street market days and so much more, Mackay has some of the best food and drinks in North Queensland. Enjoy these this year: ■ The Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market is the showcase of local, fresh produce and value added products from within the region. Held every Wednesday morning at Bluewater Quay. ■ Explore Eungella day trip with Helloworld, November 4: A paddock to plate adventure, exploring the Pioneer Valley township, Broken River, Cloudbreak Lowlines and Eungella beef, a paddock market, Eungelladale Milk and afternoon tea at the Chalet. ■ Self-drive day trip: A short car trip and you’ll get to experience some amazing food. Try a tour of Freckle Farm, drive to the Cape Hillsborough teahouse, Church Cafe or Pinnacle pub or head to Seaforth or Sarina for some hidden gems.

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HOW long have you been living in Mackay? How well have you explored your own backyard? As well as the dozens of events happening in the community each weekend, there’s so many things you can do to explore the Mackay, Whitsundays and Central Queensland. Here’s some suggestions: 1. GO ON A ‘PADDOCK TO PLATE’ TOUR Around the region, there are so many farms that offer a ‘behind the scenes’ look at a working farm. A real favourite with locals and visitors alike is Freckle Farm, which is near Eton and offers guests a look at the production behind their famous eggs and bacon on offer at so many restaurants and markets around the region. To learn more about Freckle Farm and to book a tour, click here. 2. VISIT THE BLUEWATER LAGOON 3. VISIT AN EXHIBITION AT ARTSPACE 4. VISIT THE SARINA SUGAR SHED 5. ATTEND A SHOW OR PRODUCTION AT THE MECC 6. WALK THE BLUEWATER TRAIL Winding around the Pioneer River, the Bluewater Trail is a scenic and relaxing walking and cycling trail. Linking some of the city’s main recreational attractions including the Bluewater Quay, Bluewater Lagoon, Botanic Gardens and Iluka Park all abilities playground.

7. TAKE A STROLL THROUGH THE BOTANIC GARDENS 8. HANG OUT WITH THE KANGAROOS ON THE BEACH An iconic attraction in the Mackay region featuring on may billboards and signs around the place, Cape Hillsborough is a popular destination for wildlife lovers. The National Park is filled with local wildlife, including wallabies and kangaroos, who are friendly and inquisitive to visiting humans. 9. VISIT MELBA HOUSE 10. SEE A PLATYPUS IN THE WILD AT BROKEN RIVER 11. HAVE LUNCH OR DRINKS BY THE PIONEER RIVER 12. VISIT GREENMOUNT HOMESTEAD 13. TAKE A DRIVE THROUGH THE CANEFIELDS They’re not hard to find right around the Mackay and Whitsundays region, and during crushing season they’re even more spectacular as they burn into the night. Some of my favourite drives are towards Finch Hatton, Farleigh and towards Proserpine. 14. TUCK INTO A FAMOUS PINNACLE PIE 15. HAVE A PUB LUNCH WITH A VIEW AT EIMEO HOTEL 16. VISIT WHITEHAVEN BEACH 17. HAVE MANGO SORBET AND YOUR PHOTO TAKEN AT THE BIG MANGO 18. VISIT SARINA BEACH

19. HAVE FISH AND CHIPS BY THE MACKAY MARINA LIGHTHOUSE 20. WALK THE MACKAY HARBOUR BREAKWALL 21. TAKE A PHOTO OF A CANE FIRE 22. TRY STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING 23. GO SNORKELLING 24. SWIM AT FINCH HATTON GORGE 25. VISIT THE ‘WHEEL OF FIRE’ 26. HAVE HIGH TEA AT THE OLD STATION TEAHOUSE 27. BUY SOMETHING FROM A LOCAL MARKET We have an abundance of markets on regularly around the region - from the Mackay Showgrounds markets every Saturday to Wednesday’s Greater Whitsunday Farmers Markets, Seaforth Mega Markets and Troppo Markets at Mount Pleasant, there’s a market to be found every weekend. 28. CATCH A FISH OFF THE BEACH 29. VISIT MANGO AVENUE

30. PLAY BEACH VOLLEYBALL 31. FLY THROUGH THE FOREST 32. VISIT AN AIRLIE BEACH NIGHTCLUB 33. SPOT A WHALE FROM THE NEW LAMBERTS BEACH LOOKOUT AND WHALE VIEWING PLATFORM 34. BUCKLE UP AND HEAD TO A RODEO The Mackay region holds many rodeos and campdrafts through the year, including Nebo, Moranbah, Glenden, Dysart and Collinsville. A country rodeo must be experienced if you’ve never seen bucking bulls and horses in action, or the skilled horsemen in action. 35. HAVE A SUNDAY SESH AT SAILS 36. VISIT THE CLERMONT HISTORIC CENTRE 37. VISIT LAMBERT’S BEACH LOOKOUT 38. WATCH A SUNRISE ON THE BEACH 39. WATCH A MACKAY METEORS GAME 40. GO KITESURFING 41. GO CABLE WAKEBOARDING

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42. VISIT COPPERFIELD, QUEENSLAND’S FIRST COPPER MINE 43. GO FOUR-WHEEL-DRIVING AT CAPE PALMERSTON If you haven’t visited Cape Palmerston, you can find it east of Ilbilbie, south of Mackay. It has hundreds of kilometres of four-wheel-drive tracks, beach drives and camping spots. And views like the above! Take a few fishing rods and a picnic and just make a day of it if you like. 44. SCUBA IN THE RAINFOREST Rainforest Scuba offers you a chance of a lifetime to dive in the rainforest’s crystal clear freshwater with a large variety of turtles, eight species of fish, rare Gordian worms, two breeds of eels, three types of freshwater prawn/shrimp and if you’re one of the lucky ones a platypus. Up at Eungella, it’s the only dive shop in the world that can offer you this unique experience to dive in rainforest waters with the chance of being in the water at the same time as a platypus. 45. DO A FISHING CHARTER If you want to get some hands-on fishing experience and tips from the pros, there are plenty of fishing charter options around Mackay. Two

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of the bigger ones are Reefari and Megaforce Charters, who both offer day island and reef trips, overnight and three night trips for singles or groups. 46. FISH OR CAMP AT EUNGELLA DAM 47. VISIT KESWICK ISLAND Nestled within the blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, just a stone’s throw from Mackay, is Keswick Island - a world of national parks and tropical rainforests, fringed by white sands and a coral reef bursting with vibrant marine life. 48. VISIT A HISTORIC PUB The Mackay region is home to many historic pubs, with old pubs around Mackay, Isaac and the Whitsundays regions. 49. WALK THE LONGEST BEACH IN MACKAY Boasting 6km of sparkling sand and gentle waters, this palm-lined beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing with a good book. The beach fishing is also fantastic with bream and whiting on the menu. Accommodation at Blacks Beach ranges from camping and caravan parks to self-contained, resort and motel style apartments.

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PIONEER VALLEY PRODUCE THE REAL HERO... FROM the paddock to the plate, the best of the Pioneer Valley will be on show in a new day trip for foodies. Helloworld Travel has joined forces with businesses in the Eungella community to offer a bus day trip with a difference that takes foodies on a unique Pioneer Valley experience. Kelly Portelli from Helloworld Travel said they had been designing day trips for Mackay locals and highlighting small businesses and local producers for the past three years. “We saw a need to provide locals with something different, so when Mandy Tennent from Cloudbreak Lowlines and Eungella Beef approached us to design a day trip highlighting our beautiful Eungella, we could not resist,” she said. The day trip will take Mackay locals on a journey to Eungella where they will be treated to a progressive lunch around the area. Contact Helloworld for info.

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THE FIRST 24 HOURS... DEPART Mackay and head down the Peak Downs Highway where you will see the turn-off to Eungella and the Pioneer Valley. The drive will lead you through a tunnel of cane fields and spectacular views. Mackay Eungella Road will take you through a number of small towns on your way through the valley, including Pleystowe, Marian and Mirani. If you are feeling peckish, you better wait until you arrive in Pinnacle, which is just under an hour drive. There you can find the Pinnacle Hotel and the Church Cafe. The Pinnacle Hotel is known for their pies and have also been known to dish up a crumbed steak the size of an infant. Meanwhile, the Church Cafe has brought a a small slice of Italy to the region. The menu features traditional Italian cuisine including pastas, lasagne and a range of desserts all made fresh. From Pinnacle it’s only about a 17 minute drive to Finch Hatton Gorge, which is a must see attraction in the area. It features a number of

waterfalls, including the Wheel of Fire cascades, which has a large rock pool at its base, perfect for swimming. While your down at the Gorge you might as well book your accommodation for the night at the Platypus Bush Camp. The site, built primarily by owner of 27 years Warren ‘Wazza’ Swadling, offers site camping and glamping in wooden cabins. Wazza could probably tell you a story or two about the Honey Moon Cabin, which overlooks the clear river.

YOUR SECOND DAY... From Finch Hatton it’s about a 20-minute drive to Eungella, where on the way you will journey up the steep range. For breakfast head to the Eungella Chalet which has been a landmark in the local area for decades. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers spectacular views while you’re there. Once you’re taking in the view of overlooking the entirety of the Pioneer Valley, you can drive to Broken River - here you can keep an eye out for a platypus, from one of the three viewing platforms. According to the Broken River Visitor Information Centre the platypus is spotted at various times throughout the day, but most

commonly at early morning or late afternoon. According to, Eungella has 22 kilometres of bush walking tracks within sub-tropical rainforest including sections of the Mackay Highlands Great Walks - so make sure you bring your hiking shoes. Feeling hungry after your long walk? Not to worry, stop in at the Platypus Lodge Restaurant.


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CATCH A FISH IN THE WHITSUNDAYS NOT only are the 74 islands and coastline of the Whitsundays surrounded by beautiful azure seas they are teeming with a huge variety of pelagic and reef fish. Blue & black marlin, bass and bream, sailfish, six species of mackerel, seven species of coral trout, wahoo, dolphin fish, 11 species of trevally, four species of emperor, queenfish, barramundi ... the list goes on. Nearly all of the Whitsunday islands are accessible by boat. Some are National Parks and have affordable beach campsites (some with toilets, tables and other facilities) which puts you right in the action for spectacular tropical sports fishing without returning to the mainland. Shore based fishing is available from the many marina and rockwalls located around the town, including a purpose-built fishing pontoon at Shute Harbour. If estuary fishing is your thing then launch at the brand new Proserpine River ramp off Conway Road and watch saltwater crocodiles while fishing.

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DAY 1 If you’re there on the weekend, visiting the Whitsunday Markets is a must. With stalls of fresh fruit and vegies, to jewellery to even sand sculpting to watch and camel rides, there is something for everyone. It is open from open every Saturday 7am - 1.30pm. The Airlie Beach lagoon is now back in action after the cyclone and crowds are already returning. The

lagoon, surrounded by parkland, features a sandy beach and a large swimming pool and provides a safe, stinger free environment. If you are feeling hungry after lounging by the pool, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to eat for both breakfast, lunch and dinner along Main St, just metres from the lagoon. For a change of scenery, hop in your car and travel to Cedar Creek Falls, which is only 30 minutes from Airlie Beach. Perfect after some rain, this swimming hole offers refreshing and clear water. Or, take the ferry to Hamilton Island. Hamilton Island is a beautiful place to stay and if you want to be based in one place it’s a much more convenient choice for excursions than anywhere else. It’s closer to the reef, Whitehaven and other beaches and has that tropical island vibe. Sunsets on the island are a highlight and a favourite spot to watch it was at One Tree Hill. The view is incredible and the bar at the top does $10 cocktails.

Staying in Airlie Beach is easy with many backpacker hostels, bed and breakfasts, and hotels available around town. DAY 2 While in the region it is a must to venture out to one of the stunning islands in the Whitsundays. There are many day trips and activities available, including fishing tours, beach tours and one can explore the beaches via helicopter, seaplane or by yacht. Whitehaven Beach is an absolute must, often voted one of the best beaches in the world. Whitehaven has it all: sand so white that even on the hottest of days it remains cool, turquoise water, and - if you hang around long enough - you’ll likely spot stingrays and other marine life too.

Whitehaven is a staggering 7km long and within moments of stepping off the boat, you can easily find a spot without another human in sight. While there, visit Hill Inlet. With just a short 15 minute walk to the lookout this has to rate as one of the best rewards for the least amount of effort anywhere in the world. Spend the rest of the day with a joy flight over Heart Reef in a chopper. The Whitsundays region is also home to a number of spectacular National Parks and Reserves, in particular Whitsunday Islands National Park, Gloucester Islands National Park, Molle Islands National Park, Lindeman Island National Park and Conway National Park on the mainland.

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EXPLORE HISTORY MUCH of Bowen’s pioneer history has been preserved, and is on display at the museum in Gordon Street. It has been described as one of the best regional museums in the state. Adjacent to the museum is a slab cottage that was originally built in 1872, and was bought to the town slab by slab, re-erected and restored. Period furniture, and implements of the settlers’ daily lives were collected to furnish the building. The Coral Sea Display is located at the Bowen Aerodrome and honours Bowen’s association with the World War II Catalina Flying Boats. Bowen was a base for the flying boats during the battle of the Coral Sea. The first of Bowen’s 27 murals was painted in 1988, on the wall of the Bowen Library, located on Herbert St. The idea behind the murals belonged to a former Bowen resident. Bowen’s diverse history –from the early settlement, through the various industries of the region, to the present time, comes to life through paintings by many well-known artists.

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FORESHORE Located at the end of the main street, the foreshore is a popular spot for locals and visitors to stop and relax at one of the many picnic tables along the shore. The Water Park and playground are a great hit with the kids, which makes the foreshore a favourite with families. The foreshore is also ideal for water sports, including paddle boarding, wakeboarding, tubing and water skiing. The nearby jetty is a wonderful vantage point to enjoy a walk and spot some amazing sea-life, including turtles and stingrays. HORSESHOE BAY Horseshoe Bay is probably Bowen’s most iconic beach – a favourite for locals and visitors alike. The Horseshoe Bay Café & Beach Bar is close to the beach making this spot a perfect location to start your day. The beach is protected by two granite outcrops, which provide a haven for a wonderful range of fish and coral just a short swim from the beach. Horseshoe Bay is a top spot for divers and snorkellers. ROSE BAY Rose Bay is a beautiful little bay with an unbeatable aspect. It has views that reach across to the magnificent peaks of Gloucester Island. With plenty of space, Rose Bay beach is a great place for the kids to explore the rock pools at low tide, while family and friends can relax

and make use of the BBQs and picnic tables. The northern end of the beach is an ideal launch point for kayakers and paddle boarders, whilst divers and snorkellers can enjoy the fringing reef that hugs the shoreline. MURRAYS BAY Murray Bay is positioned between Horseshoe Bay and Rose Bay. The bay is protected from most winds and is one of the more secluded bays and beaches in Bowen. It is popular with the many keen runners and walkers who enjoy the Cape Edgecumbe walk daily and is also another great launch zone for snorkellers and divers. GRAYS BAY Grays Bay is just so picturesque!

glimpse of a delicate eco-system. Beautiful and often deserted, this sweeping long stretch of sand is ideal for those who wish to relax and enjoy the quiet life, although you may see the occasional fishermen or kite-surfer doing exactly the same. QUEENS BEACH Queens Beach is a great beach to enjoy a leisurely stroll and at 5km, is the longest beach in Bowen. Free barbecues dot the beachfront and there is a large playground. A shared walkway and bicycle circuit make it a great spot for exercise. At the most northern end of Queens Beach lies the mouth of the Don River and with onshore winds and lagoons creating tide and sand movement, this location makes perfect conditions for Kite surfing. (From Bowen Tourism)


The azure water, white sand and numerous boats that frequent the bay set a beautiful scene. This bay is a favourite for those who enjoy water sports. With a two-lane boat ramp, it’s easy to launch your boat or jet ski, and there is plenty of parking for trailers or for those with stand up paddleboards, canoes or kayaks. As the bay is sheltered, water-skiing, tubing and wakeboarding are perfect activities from this location. Adjacent to Grays Bay is the Pocket beach where shaded picnic tables and free BBQs are located. KINGS BEACH With views over Gloucester, Middle and Stone Islands, Kings Beach is a beach of contrasts. Large granite boulders protect the mangroves of Magazine Creek, and offer a rare

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TOP BUSHWALKS IN THE REGION... WHETHER you want a day excursion with the kids or you're a seasoned runner looking to take it out to the trails, bushwalking is a way for people of all ages and fitness levels to get a time-out in nature. Walkers are rewarded with scenic views in tranquil surroundings and a sense of achievement upon reaching their destination. Before heading out it is helpful to research places to go and planning the hike. Being prepared is the key to an enjoyable time on the trail. Dressing to weather and terrain conditions is important. Light breathable clothing that is quick drying is a good choice. Long sleeves protect from the sun and insects. Supporting footwear minimises the risk of sprained ankles. Taking plenty of water is crucial in the warm weather. Food is a must to keep energy levels consistent. Consider the following bushwalking options: MACKAY HIGHLANDS GREAT WALK Where: Eungella National Park, 80km west of Mackay

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A 56km long trek through cool and cloudy rainforest along cliffs and peaks, the hike takes between three to five days and is suitable for experienced and fit walkers. It is best to walk from north to south to follow track markers and avoid steep climbs. There are several short walks for those not wanting to do the entire track. They are: Pine Grove to Broken River leads through lush rainforest along river cascades to a peaceful campground. Distance: 10km one way (3.5 to 5 hours) Broken River to Crediton Hall follows the river along to rainforest and through farming communities. Distance: 11.2km one way (3.75 to 5.5 hours) Denham Range to Moonlight Dam is a descent through eucalyptus woodlands and should only be attempted by fit, experienced walkers. Distance: 16.2km one way (5.5 to 8 hours) CLARKE RANGES - BROKEN RIVER Where: Eungella National Park, 80km west of Mackay

the Wheel of Fire track. A harder track with steep uphill sections including 300 steps. Swimming in waterholes is possible but great care must be taken in fast flowing streams and on slippery rocks. Fatal injuries have occurred in the area. Most tracks are weather dependent and rainfall can lead to high flowing water. CAPE HILLSBOROUGH Cape Hillsborough, a 50km drive north of Mackay, offers a range of walking tracks ranging from one to five kilometres in distance and varying difficulty. Andrews Point Track is one of the harder walks and is just over five kilometres return. The track leads along the beach climbing up numerous steps to lookouts through rainforest and eucalypt forests. At an outgoing tide it is possible to walk across to Wedge Island.

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Several walks for all fitness levels ranging from the 250 metre Sky Window circuit to the eight kilometre Clarke Range Track. The Clark Range Track requires a moderate level of fitness and takes between three and four hours return. During light rain or early on a misty morning the rainforest provides scenic views. The Rainforest Discovery circuit is a 780 metre level walk through cool and shady rainforest crossing small creeks. FINCH HATTON GORGE Where: Eungella National Park, 80km west of Mackay The Araluen Cascades track is a short three kilometre walk starting at the Finch Hatton picnic area. Moderate fitness levels are required and hikers can expect to be spoilt with lush rainforest and lookouts over the Araluen Cascades. A turnoff from the track leads onto

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Peel St

Milton St

Nelson St

Wood St




14 Northern Beaches Central Shopping Centre

13 Mackay Base Hospital

12 Mater Misericordiae Hospital

11 Mt Pleasant Greenfields Shopping Centre

10 Caneland Central

9 Mackay Entertainment Centre

8 Mackay Marina

7 Mackay Rail Station

6 Bus Terminal

5 Mackay Airport

4 Artspace

3 Town Hall

Victoria St

River St

Alfred St

2 Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens



Gordon St

1 Visitor Information Centre

to Townsville

Wellington St

Rd ve gro n Ma

Macalister St


Gregory St


Sydney St


Brisbane St


West Mackay




to Rockhampton



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Carlyle St



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Bridge Rd

Illawong Beach

Far Beach

Town Beach

East Mackay

South Mac ckay

Shakespeare St

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Blacks Beach




Dolphin Heads

North Mackay


Malcomson St Rd s m Sa

Mt Pleasant 11





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Rural View


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MACKAY B S on go La

Pa r a dis eS


to Shoal Pt

fi Milton St

Tennyson St

Glenella Rd



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Juliet St

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Glenpark St

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JOIN A SOCIAL BIKE RIDE... Saturday Social Rides: Meet at Metro Market Cafe, River Street, Mackay every Saturday from 6am (summer) or 6:30am (winter). Team Caffeine: This group rides out and back exactly the same way at a reasonable pace, great for your weekly bike excursion. If you’re a new rider and don’t feel up the the full distance you can turn around at any stage of the ride and head back to the Metro Cafe for coffee. Distance: 15/20km. Tour de Latte: A loop ride, intended to push those that ride regularly. Distance: 25km. Team Slipstream: Picking up the pace a bit, this group of cyclists are always trying to lift their game and perfect their bunch-riding skills. Distance: 30-35km. Team Titanium: This is our fastest group for the fitter riders. Distance: 40km + Lazy Sunday Riders: Meet at Bluewater Quay every second Sunday from 7am. Bicycle Belles (ladies only): Meet at Bicycle Connection, 20 Victoria St, Mackay every Wednesday from 6am.

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THE BEST RIDES IN THE REGION... CYCLING has taken off in Australia with hundreds of thousands of people across Australia dressing up in their spandex and jumping on the pedals. In Mackay and Whitsundays region, it is particularly popular because of the topography of the landscape and the environment. While it can get hot in the summer months, it’s still a pleasant activity in the morning and late afternoon. In winter it comfortable to cycle all day, if you have the legs for it. And there is a terrain that suits everybody. Professional road rider Wade Mitchell spend a lot of his spare time training in the region and has offered some routes from the novice looking for a few hours lazy peddling, to the trekker who loves spend a day on a bike soaking up as much of the landscape as possible. “(In Mackay) it really depends on what people are after,” he said. He said it’s great low impact exercise and helps with stress. WADE’S TOP RIDE Habana Rd Wade’s favourite ride is along Habana Rd from the Golf Links Rd round about along Habana Rd to the township of Habana and beyond.

Wade rides from the roundabout until the sealed road turns to dirt, a one way trip of about 18km, and then returns to Golf Links Rd intersection. “It’s so close to town but it is so quite,” he said. “It’s a real rural setting, and there are rolling hills all the way.” He said there were steep roads to the left an right of Habana Rd, if people want a bit more of a workout and test their legs. One of the big features of this ride passing farm houses and paddocks stocked with cattle. The best time to ride this route is early in the morning. OTHER RIDES Rowallan Park The mountain bike park is home to the Mackay and District Mountain Bike Club and has 10km of designed single track. The trail has had extensive work done to the before hosting the Queensland State XCO titles for the past two year. They are now up to a national standard, and are know to be quite technical. There are trails from beginner to advanced and everything in between. The trails are only opened to MTBA members.

Mackay City Centre > Slade Point Distance: 10km one way Track type: On road Experience level: Intermediate to expert Mackay City Centre > Habana Loop Distance: 36km Track type: On road/highway Experience level: Intermediate to expert Gooseponds, North Mackay Distance: 8km Track type: Shared pedestrian/bicycle pathway Experience level: Beginner to intermediate Points of interest: Choice of shorter loop around the lake north of Malcomson St or longer ride by crossing over Malcomson St and looping around the lake, down to Willetts Rd and back Mackay City Centre > Rural View Distance: 12km one way Track type: On road Experience: Intermediate to expert

Rural View > Eimeo Headland Distance: 4km one way Track type: On road Experience level: Intermediate to expert Points of interest: Enjoy a coffee or lunch with a million-dollar view at the historic Eimeo Pacific Hotel and a walk along beautiful Eimeo Beach Rural View > Shoal Point Distance: 6.5km one way Track type: On road Experience level: Intermediate to expert Mackay Marina Distance: 2km Track type: Shared pedestrian/bicycle pathway Experience level: Beginner to intermediate Points of interest: Wonderful views along the way, from the world-class Mackay Marina, along the Breakwater and through to Harbour Beach

Unforgettable adventUre toUrs in the Mackay region

Eungella where you can view platypus in their natural environment to Cape Hillsborough with Kangaroos on the beach at dawn to experience the sugar industry with tours from the farm to a working sugar mill.


SPEND A DAY WITH A PLATYPUS! Journey to Eungella National Parks, "Broken River", to see platypus in their natural habitat as they feed.



If you're curious about how a sugar mill works and how cane is turned into sweet and yummy sugar, then a Farleigh Sugar Mill tour with Reeforest is a definite must. *Crushing season ONLY


A day filled with travel to various attractions in the Cape Hillsborough area. See Kangaroos on the beach and listen to the history of the Juipera people and how they lived in this region.

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THE BEST SPOTS TO DROP A LINE AROUND MACKAY WHETHER you’re looking to drop a line off the banks or take the boat out for a day, Mackay has some great fishing spots sure to land you a great catch. We spoke to the experts and gathered the best on and offshore fishing spots in the region. Mackay Tackle World salesman Aaron Sturdy said whether you’re a first time angler or experienced fisherman, his six top spots are easy to find and accessible to all. “For people that just want to fish off the bank, at low tide you have some great options that let you walk up and down the creeks, one good spot is where the old hospital bridge used to be but on the opposite side along the sand bank,” he said. “You can walk along that for a fair way at low tide, it’s easily accessible

for families with kids too. “Besides that any of the beaches on low tide, East Point for people that have four wheel drives, if you head there you go fishing out the mouth of the river. “Being so close to flat top and round top you’ll find your mackerel, trevally, barramundi, and people that want to get the adrenalin going can even get sharks out of there.” According to Sturdy, the mouth of rivers are also a good spot to get your bread and butter species, such as flathead, whiting and brim. He said an additional onshore spot and one of his favourites is the harbour breakwater, a great location at high tide where you can snag a few mangrove jack, finger mark, barra or any of the mackerel species.





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“For people wanting offshore spots, one nice and close option is Brampton Island, you have quite a nice shallow reef in there,” Sturdy said. “You’ll get your coral trout, finger mark, mangrove jack and mackerel, most of your reef except nannygai and red emperor, you won’t get legal ones of those until you go out a bit deeper. “Aside from there you can also try the Goldsmiths Group out from Seaforth, there again is your typical reef species which are good to catch using your typical seven inch jerk bait.” The third and final offshore spot, recommended by the angler was Victor Island off Sarina and Hay Point. “It’s not too far for people with a small boat wanting to get in somewhere close, but also will give

you some great catches,” he said. “It’s a popular spot for your blue tusk fish, mangrove jack and finger mark.” With warm weather now rolling

in, Sturdy said anglers will start to see more barramundi in the waters at most locations, as they start to get more active as temperatures increase.

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TRAVEL THE MINING TRAIL... From heritage-listed pubs to remnants of abandoned gold-mining towns, The Isaac Region’s mining corridor offers a treasure-trove of historical destinations and insightful places. 1. MACKAY TO MT BRITTON Travel inland from Mackay along the Peak Downs Hwy and take a right on to the Suttor Development Road, just before you arrive in Nebo. Follow the signs to the a bandoned mining town of Mt Britton. Only remnants are left, including gold mining machinery. Isaac Regional Council maintains markers on the original streets, and displays historic photographs to give you a glimpse of the town in the 1880s. 2hrs travel. 2. MT BRITTON TO LAKE ELPHINSTONE Explore further inland along the Suttor Development Road towards Lake Elphinstone, a natural lake which once supported the nearby town of Elphinstone, long since disappeared. The lake is a popular destination for fishing, kayaking and water skiing and there’s free camping and amenities. 1hr travel.

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3. LAKE ELPHINSTONE TO NEBO Return to the Peak Downs Highway and make your way towards the pioneering cattle town of Nebo, with its heritage-listed pub built in 1862. It’s the ideal place to stop for lunch for a taste of true Australian hospitality and some good tucker. The Nebo museum is also well worth a look for an insight into the changing character of this country town. 40mins travel. 4. NEBO TO MORANBAH As you arrive in Moranbah, follow the 1km Federation Walk at the town’s entrance to the well-known Big Red Rhino Bucket - a representation of Moranbah’s rich mining industry. The Big Red Bucket was purchased from Peak Downs Mine for $1 in 1999 and is the highlight of the walk. 1hr travel. 5. MORANBAH TO CLERMONT Gold was discovered in Clermont in 1861. Ever since, the town has found prosperity in precious metals, coal and agriculture, however it has also suffered its fair share of tragedy from devastating floods to the

anguishes of Australia’s earliest gold rushes. Visit the Clermont Historical Centre, 2km north of Clermont along the Gregory Hwy. The old gold mining district surrounding Clermont attracts interest from fossickers and metal detector enthusiasts. 1.5hrs travel. 6. CLERMONT TO THERESA CREEK DAM Theresa Creek Dam is located off the Peakvale Rd, 22km from Clermont. The dam is fully stocked with barramundi, golden perch, eel-tailed catfish, sleepy cod, silver perch and bony bream, as well as redclaw crayfish. You will need to obtain a fishing permit, which can be bought at the dam kiosk. 20 mins travel. (Source: Mackay Tourism)

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5 RESTAURANTS WORTH DRIVING TO 1. Eimeo Pacific Hotel, Eimeo Described as a spot for “lunch with a million dollar view”. Being only 20 minutes from town, the Eimeo hotel draws a crowd of locals and travellers alike. 2. The Old Station Tea House, Ball Bay Only 36 minutes from Mackay and five minutes away from Cape Hillsborough, Old Station Tea House is tucked away in “lush tropical gardens”. It is the perfect lunch destination for your day to Cape Hillsborough. The cafe is known for their tea and home made cakes. 3. Flaggy Rock Cafe, Carmila Just over 100km south of Mackay, the Flaggy Rock Cafe has become an iconic stop for travellers and are well known for their home made ice cream. 4. General Gordon Hotel, Sandiford The pub among the canefields was recently put up for sale. The General Gordon has a 131-year long history and is popular amongst all patrons. 5. Nebo Hotel “Great place to go for a drive, ride and lunch. A historic hotel serving good pub meals,” a recent review on TripAdvisor said.

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FROM double-layered schnitties to a steak the size of a small child, there’s a few mammoth food challenges around Mackay to put the serious eaters to the test. DALLAS DOG DARE CHALLENGE At Lone Star Rib House, there’s a challenge that’s bound to get your heart racing. It’s named the ‘Dallas Dog Dare Challenge’, where you have to polish off a two-foot hotdog in less than 20 minutes, with prizes to be won and a leaderboard with the fastest time recorded in store. Lone Star owner Rakesh Yadav said the challenge was proving popular among Mackay residents eager to gobble up the two-foot monster hotdog. “In one week we had about eight or nine take up the challenge... one guy finished easily in the 20 minutes but a few struggled,” Mr Yadav said. “If you finish the two-foot Dallas dog in 20 minutes, you get a voucher to use in the store next time you visit.” But if you want to beat the record, you’re going to have to be an exceptionally fast eater. “Last year one guy finished in seven minutes, that’s still our store record no one has beaten,” Mr Yadav said. SOUTHS MACKAY LEAGUES CLUB How much of a chicken parmie lover

are you? Souths Mackay Leagues Club’s bistro has a challenge for you. “The Parmigeddon” is already a monster of a meal, but executive chef Ryan Hawkins has plans to make it even bigger. “It’s pretty epic,” Ryan said. “You can choose two schnitzels, beef and beef or beef and chicken... then we have a smoky barbecue sauce, bacon, cheese on one layer, then on the next layer napoli sauce, caramalised onion, salami, cheese. Then we stack it with fried eggs and onion rings.” Ryan said he’s working on an even bigger version that he hopes to make into a foodie challenge to offer a prize for those who polish it off. “We sell probably two a week at the moment and there’s only been a handful of people that haven’t actually finished it,” he said. “So we think for the next menu we’ll add another layer to it and maybe a carbonara-based sauce one...” The Souths executive chef of seven years says the kitchen team make their own crumbed steak, which is what most customers request as it’s “one of the best in the region”. “We’re working on a one-kilo crumbed steak which is like the size of a plate and half... we want to own a National Crumbed Steak Day,

If you finish off 1kg of spicy hot chicken wings for $24.90 you get a t-shirt and your name on a leaderboard amongst others in the hotel chain across Central Queensland. So far, only one person has dared take on the challenge at Hotel Mackay. “We also had a challenge this year of a 1.5kg steak where you can win your weight in beer; two attempted that and they both failed,” Tracy from the hotel laughed. CHICKEN WING CHALLENGE #2 Blacks Beach Tavern is also holding the hot wings challenge, that manager Reanna Brunker says is proving popular. “We’ve had a few people take on the challenge,” Reanna said. “The record at the moment is three minutes and 13 seconds.”


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there’s no day for that yet so there’s an opening there,” Ryan laughed. “We hand crumb all of our own products. We spend most of our week breaking down our rumps, we include corn chips and things like that in our professional crumb and we get fresh chicken in for our chicken schnitzels... we want to perfect the bistro style of cuisine.” MEAT YOUR MATCH CHALLENGE Ribs and Rumps have a mammoth meaty challenge for the serious steak eaters. If you can polish off a 1kg rump steak, a rack of barbecue ribs and chips in one hour, you get bragging rights and a steak knife thrown in. THE CHICKEN WING CHALLENGE Reckon you could down a kilo of spicy hot chicken wings? Hotel Mackay is running a challenge for you.

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SEE THE MACKAY REGION FROM THE AIR... THE Great Barrier Reef is vast and awe inspiring and Mackay hinterland is much the same with seemingly endless rainforest, so it can be some difficult to get some perspective of what this region has to offer. If you have limited time, then the best option can be to go to the air. Regional Air is one carrier that offer scenic flights over Pioneer Valley and the Great Barrier Reef. The air charter service is based in Mackay and operate both single engine and twin-engine aircraft. The company has done a regular flight from Mackay to Hamilton Island, but last year expanded its service to include scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef and the valleys behind the coast. PIONEER VALLEY TO THE SEA AIR TOUR Depart from Mackay and begin your viewing experience, flying over sugarcane fields. Track over Mackay’s Irrigation and Water Storage Recreational Dams towards the stunning Pioneer Valley. Take in the amazing kaleidoscope of green as the flight glides over the Eungella Ranges and Sub Tropical Rain Forests. Now on top of the world, the country transforms and showcases the lush farming fields surrounding Eungella Dam. Trekking in an easterly curve you will pass over the state forests, sugar

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cane fields and fruit crops as you near Cape Hillsborough where the rainforest meets the shoreline. Be amazed by the prehistorical rock formations, see the wild life frolicking on the pristine coral sand. This is nature at its best! About 55 minutes for 2 people in Cessna 172 ISLAND BUZZ Take in the crystal clear blue waters of Keswick Island, buzz around St Bees Island and across to Brampton. Loop around Carlisle Island and view the secluded white sandy beaches from above. Returning via Green Island and Shoal Point, this is an unforgettable experience highlighting the natural beauty the Mackay shoreline and islands boast. About 60 minutes for 2 people in Cessna 172 BEST OF BOTH VALLEY AND ISLANDS SCENIC FLIGHT The flight will combine our “Island Buzz” and “Pioneer Valley” joy flights to showcase the regions Sugar Cane fields, Mackay’s Irrigation and Water Storage, Recreational Dams and stunning Pioneer Valley including Pinnacle. The flight glides over Sub Tropical Rain Forests of Finch Hatton. Then heading back towards the crystal clear blue waters of our beautiful

Mackay Shoreline and out over Keswick Island, buzz around St Bees Island and across to Brampton. Loop around Carlisle Island and view the secluded white sandy beaches from above. 56 minutes in Cessna 172 RAINFOREST TO THE REEF SCENIC FLIGHT This is a wonderful way for you and your friends to view all the Mackay region has to offer. The Rainforest to the Reef Scenic Flight combines the Pioneer Valley to Sea Tour and the Island Buzz in the luxury air-conditioned twin engine piper chieftain. Depart from Mackay and begin your viewing experience, flying over sugarcane fields. Track over Mackay’s dams towards the stunning Pioneer Valley. Over the dams, Cape Hillsborough, loop around Carlisle Island and view the secluded white sandy beaches from above. Take in the crystal clear blue waters of Keswick Island, buzz around St Bees Island and across to Brampton. Returning via Green Island and Shoal Point, this is an unforgettable experience highlighting the natural beauty the Mackay Shoreline and Islands boasts. 46 minutes for up to 8 people in Piper Chieftain




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THE BEST PLACES TO GO SWIMMING AFTER a long hiatus, the Seaforth swimming enclosure has finally reopened to residents. Following Cyclone Debbie, many popular beaches and enclosures were left battered and broken, including Seaforth, Hideaway Bay and McEwans Beach. The Seaforth enclosure saw its netting completely torn and ripped from its structure, leaving nearby swimmers with nowhere to go without running the risk of being stung by stingers. 1. The Seaforth enclosure is just one of dozens of safe swimming spots in the Mackay region that residents will return to now the warmer weather has rolled in. 2 & 3. Haliday Bay and McEwans Beach enclosures will be next to get fixed, but will first await NDRRA funding - each are always popular spots to swim safely in summer months.

Alternatively there are a number of popular fresh water swimming hole situated throughout the Mackay region. 4. Finch Hatton Gorge swimming holes in Eungella National Park are some of the the most well-known freshwater swimming holes around, despite having to walk about 20 minutes to reach them. When hot weather strikes, hundreds of visitors take to the rockpools for a dip, but this often makes it difficult to find a secluded spot. Still it’s worth the trip to enjoy the scenery, bush walk and swim and there is always plenty of room on the rocks for anyone wanting to enjoy a day out. 5. Eungella Dam is another great spot to cool off and an easy location to access, although is a bit of a drive, residing close to 120km west of Mackay.








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8. Mackay’s own Bluewater Lagoon is always a family favourite, and sits right in the centre of the CBD. Entry is free and you can enjoy a swim and lunch while the kids go wild on the lagoon slide. 9. While Mackay Harbour Beach is not entirely protected, the section up near the Surf Live Saving Club is, with lifeguards doing regular patrols and checking the water for stingers. Not only is it safer to swim than other Mackay beaches but it is also one of the prettiest and resides right next to the marina, which is a stunning spot to grab lunch and take a walk. 10. Eimeo Beach is another patrolled beach where locals can go for a swim without the constant fear of coming in contact with a stinger. While there is no certainty, life guards who patrol the beach will close it off if they catch a stinger in

their nets, and they conduct checks routinely. Eimeo Surf Club is also situated beneath one of Mackay’s favourite pubs, the Eimeo Hotel, which not only offers a great feed but one of the best views Mackay has to offer. 11 & 12. There are currently two public pools in the Mackay region where swimmers can visit to take a dip or fit in a bit of exercise doing laps. The first is Memorial Swim Centre located on Milton St, and the second Pioneer Swim Centre on Malcomson St, North Mackay. Both have a $4.50 cover charge for adults or $3 for kids.


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It also has camping facilities, a picnic area, barbecues and toilets, making it easy to turn a quick dip into a day trip. 6. Cedar Creek Falls in Proserpine is a popular swimming destination for both tourists and locals to venture to on warm days, with a large fresh water swimming hole to enjoy and a big cascading water fall to view. A small track up the right side of the water hole also leads to a smaller rock pool on top where the waterfalls begins. It’s a great spot to visit with friends, and pack lunch to make a day out of it. Cedar Creek Falls is about a 15 minute drive from another safe swimming enclosure, located at the picturesque Dingo Beach. 7. Dingo Beach boasts white sand, crystal blue waters and has seating and barbecue facilities that friends and families can enjoy.

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OCTOBER 27: Reclaim the Night Mackay march, Bluewater Quay 28: Botox Party comedy cabaret show at the MECC. Tickets: 29: Pink Ribbon Charity Fair, Mulherin Park Paget, 10am 29: PGA Professionals Championship, Hamilton Island Golf Club

NOVEMBER 1-6: Zerek Barra Tour at Kinchant Dam. 4: TEDxMackay, CQUniversity Mackay. 5: Rhythms of Ireland at the MECC. 7: Melbourne Cup luncheon, Magpies Sporting Club. 10-12: Airlie Beach Festival of Music, various locations. Visit www.airliebeachfestival 11: Church Cafe Pinnacle dinner, Helloworld Mackay 11: Fujifilm Hamilton Island Triathlon 12: North Qld Babies and Kids Market, Mackay Showgrounds

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DECEMBER 3. 10-year anniversary of Troppo Markets, Mt Pleasant, from 7.30am 8: Paxton’s Night Markets, Paxton’s Warehouse Mackay 9: Santa at the Beach! Come down to get your photo taken at Harbour Beach. 17: Mackay Choral Society presents Legends Through Time, MECC

JANUARY 10: Deadly 60 Downunder Live at the MECC. 13-30: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Whitsundays stopover, Abell Point Marina

March 24: Colour Dash3000 and UV Dash1500. April 28-29: Bowen Offshore Superboats May 5: Marina Prior and David Hobson perform at the MECC. For tickets visit May 6: Stamford Financial Hamilton Hilly Marathon May 18-20: Mackay Home Show and Caravan, Camping Expo at the showgrounds June 3: Mackay Marina Run June 2-3: Big Boar Bikes and Blues charity day June 19-21: Mackay Show June 24: Great Whitehaven Beach Run July 21-22: Airlie Beach Running Festival Also coming up: The first Eat Street event to be held along the river in Mackay. Keep an eye on when dates and more information is confirmed.

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To book, call 1300 780 797 or visit *Price is per person, per night, twin share, inclusive of GST. Prices are based on Standby rates which are only bookable within 72 hours of travel. Two return ferry transfers included per twin share room. Rates are subject to availability at the time of booking and valid for travel until 31 March 2018. Standby rates available to regional market only (between Port Douglas and Gladstone). Further conditions and blackout dates apply. See for more information. ^Kids Stay and Eat Free when sharing with adults and using existing bedding, and eat free from the kids menu when dining in selected restaurants.

Discover Mackay & Whitsundays  

Discover Mackay & Whitsundays