Whether you’re into camping or glamping, saltwater or freshwater, Mackay has some of the best swimming, camping and beach locations around North Queensland. Explore the wonders of the region with this guide to the local-favorite hot spots and the best family friendly hidden destinations.
Swimming in Mackay
Is there anything better than jumping into a refreshing swimming hole on a hot day? Check out some of the best swimming spots in Mackay.
Cedar Creek Falls
Located between Airlie Beach and Proserpine, this natural waterfall is set in a self-contained rock amphitheater, and only a few minutes’ walk from the parking lot. It inhabits an abundance of wildlife, a rock pool to take a dip in and walking tracks to explore the region further.
Finch Hatton Gorge
To get to this captivating swimming spot, it’s an hour drive out of Mackay. There are two tracks that lead to separate rock pools, the first being the easier option and provides BBQs and a picnic area. The second, to the Wheel of Fire Cascades is slightly more challenging but well worth the view.
With a 50-meter heated swimming pool and toddler splash pool, this community aquatic facility is the perfect place to entertain your little ones when the weather starts to get a little bit cooler. They offer a range of swim programs for all ages and lush grounds surrounding for picnics.
This water fun park includes 3 pools, a 19.5-meter waterslide, a waterfall, an interactive children’s water playground and easy disability access. Once the family is ready to refuel after enjoying all of these features, there are free to use barbeques, a café and a pancake house all situated in the vicinity to enjoy.
Consisting of a giant inflatable obstacle course entirely afloat, this one might be for children aged 7 and above. Mackay Aqua Park is a great family fun activity that is both challenging and hilarious. Sessions are run for an hour, with trained life guards keeping an eye on everything. Bookings can easily be made online.
Set under the bridge on the way to Finch Hatton Gorge, this swimming spot is close to town and is popular with the locals on a hot summer’s day. The clear waters here during the dryer, cooler months make this a great spot for fishing too, so grab the little ones a fishing rod and try their luck at a catch.
Located up in Eungella National park, this swimming hole is a secret local gem with rainforest surrounding. The swimming hole is quite large and is the first one you will come across when passing the Wintermoon Camp grounds.
Camping in Mackay
One of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in the gorgeous areas of North Queensland is by packing your family into the car and going camping.
Situated next to the beach with available fishing spots, what more could you want? 50km north of Mackay, this small and simple getaway offers toilets, campfires and town water (although bringing your own is advised.) Accessible via Cape Hillsborough Road, no 4WD needed.
South Cumberland Islands
Why choose the outback when you can camp in the ocean? Made up of 5 separate islands, Scawfell, Cockermouth, St Bees, Penrith and Keswick, all welcoming campers to stay as long as they please. Put a spin on your regular camping trip. Transfers, day trips and Glamping options are available.
The Cape Hillsborough Nature Park is located next to the beach and is known for its kangaroo viewing at the early hours of the morning as the sun is coming up. Camp and caravan sites are both offered here and this family friendly park.
For families that are a bit more adventurous, this destination is a hot spot for finishing, kayaking and water skiing. Its free to set up camp here and toilets, showers, barbeques, picnic tables and a boat ramp are all situated next to the lake.
Seaforth Camping Reserve
Situated on the beach front and surrounded by bird and sea life, Seaforth is a large council operated reserve that is pay-to-stay. Leave your animals at home if you decide to venture here, as they have a strict no pet policy.
This new camping site offers great facilities for families who aren’t quite up to roughing it in the wilderness yet. About an hour and twenty minutes’ drive out of Mackay, you can expect to find provided fireplaces and spot wild platypus in the viewing deck above Broken River. Great for children who are fascinated by animals as there is a new platypus walk recently launched in the area.
Boulder Creek Campsite
This small and free campsite is situated in the rainforest and as its name suggests, next to a creek abundant with boulders. If you’re after a picturesque location with exclusive access, this is the spot for you. Accommodating for 10-12 camps, early arrival is essential to score yourself a spot.
If camping’s not your style but you’re in need for a place to stay on a budget, BIG4 offers a great range of activities to keep the kids entertained. Jumping pillows, water parks and play areas, pools and a tire maze will be sure to keep them out of your hair. They offer a variety of villas and cabins as well as powered sites for campers and caravans.
The Diggings Campground
This is one for the families who enjoy being completely self-sufficient when camping. No facilities are on offer here, which makes this spot a true camping experience. Be sure to grab your 4WD for this one as access can be difficult, but the secluded creek and river holes close by and an array or wildlife make it well worth it.
Beaches in Mackay
A day at the beach is hard to beat. A stroll by the water’s edge, a dip in the rolling waves or an afternoon spent fishing with the family is sure to recharge your battery.
Equip with a lifesaving club and lifeguards patrolling the area, you can find a spot close to the nets to keep out the stingers, or venture down the coast to a more secluded area with less people.
Seaforth is a popular destination for beach fishing, with a boat ramp to facilitate those who want to go out onto the water. Keep the kids busy with the Bowls club nearby or the public swimming enclosure.
To capture this stunning beach from afar, check out the Lamberts Lookout which has a telescope installed for whale and dolphin spotting. This beach can develop a swell great for surfing and there is a playground is also situated here.
One of the best beaches in Far North Queensland, take your pets for a walk along the extended stretch of sand or opt for the paved footpath that stretches adjacent to the beach. Great for activities as the low tide creates a large area for kids to play safely.
At six kilometers long, this beach is the longest northern beach in Mackay. Known for being a great fishing spot and having camp grounds and apartments within walking distance, this is a great destination for a mini getaway.
This scenic beach is a local favorite due to its dining options available right on the skirt of the beach. The Eimeo Pacific Hotel overlooks the crystal waters with pristine views of the Whitsunday Islands. There is a park situated on the waters edge to keep the kids happy too.
Illawong is the home of Quota Park, a multi-dimensional park for children of all ages and fitness equipment for those who tire of just a beach jog. At this beach, dogs are free to run off leash and crab spotting on the sand is a must.
View Flat and Round Top island from this beach, and take a stroll as the sunsets. Popular for families as there is an all abilities playground, great potential for kite surfing and a string of barbeques and facilities to accommodate.
Situated north of Sarina, this beach is a favorite holiday destination. It is known for its unique animal spotting including the likes of loggerhead turtles, echidnas, whales, dolphins, black cockatoos and sea eagles.