Expat Diary – Things to do in Mackay Queensland Part 1

Expat Diary – Things to do in Mackay Queensland Part 1


Well as most of my readers know by now we have relocated to Mackay Australia for the first part of our expat adventures! As I was driving around town today I was thinking of everything we have learnt over the last month about Mackay (and possibly Australia too) so I thought I would share what we have been up to over the last 4 weeks and give some ideas for things to do in Mackay Queensland! This is only part 1 as we still have lots of exploring to do!

I am hoping this will be helpful for anyone considering a visit to the region whether you are a backpacker or a grey nomad there is something to appeal to all!


First off though…do you know where Mackay is located in Australia?? To be honest we had no idea at all until I saw a job advertised and applied. So there it is 10 hours drive north of Brisbane! It has a population of approximately 117,ooo people (a lot of whom seem to be in their 20’s!) Mackay is surrounded by sugar cane fields so you see a lot of cane as well as dead kangaroos when driving around! I am off to Moranbah for a couple of days with my job next month (2 hours and 200kms inland) so pics coming of that area next month! (Hoping to spot an emu!)


  • Mackay harbour

  • Dolphin Heads

  • The beaches (so many beaches!)


  • Finch Hatton Gorge (nice hike plus swimming holes)

  • Airlie Beach

Accommodation tried so far in Mackay and Airlie Beach

Mackay – Lanai Apartments

Before we started our housesit (which we have for 3 months – post coming soon about housesitting!) we spent a week at the Lanai Apartments in Mackay. The apartments are not cheap but they are central and the staff were excellent. Well equipped apartments and good facilities make these a sure bet for a stay in Mackay.

Check out the apartments on booking.com

Airlie Beach – Bush Village Budget Cabins

We spent one night in Airlie Beach (we can’t wait to go back) prior to heading over to Hamilton Beach for the day. These cabins are great and we will definitely stay there again – hammock is booked! They are well equipped and we found them very comfortable. The site is close to the centre of Airlie – a 5 minute drive away – and the price was good.

Check out the cabins on booking.com

Lessons learnt so far

  • How to drive an automatic – everyone seems to have automatic cars (or huge SUV’s) so I have had to learn to keep my left leg still and let the car change gears!!!
  • Flipflops or thongs as they are called here are really the only footwear you need!
  • Sandflies are evil little creatures who will leave you with bites that itch like nothing else on earth.
  • Coles and Woolworths are pretty much it for food shopping choices…I miss M&S!!!
  • TV is terrible and I am now a Netflix addict!
  • You can walk into the manicurist and get a manicure and pedicure pretty much on the spot. Since your feet are on permanent display its pretty essential! (And it will probably be a man who does it!)
  • Snakes are everywhere!!!! Even in the tree at the back of our house!!
  • A coolbox (Eskie) is an essential part of your kit when out on the road – fill it up with drinks and a picnic and pull up at a picnic table (they are everywhere) and have a BBQ. Its all set up for this in Australia and BBQ are gassed up ready to go!

  • Petrol is cheap – good job as everywhere from Mackay is a bit of a drive.
  • You can buy alcohol from a drive-in!!!! Yep drive in tell them what you want and they will load it up!
  • People really do say “G’Day” 🙂
  • I have seen lots of kangaroos…all dead by the side of the road!! No driving at dawn or dusk for me!
  • Platypus are tiny! But cute!
  • Schools have 10 week terms and 2 week breaks in between with the 6 week break over Christmas (summer in the southern hemisphere)
  • If you have any leftover meat it needs to be kept in the fridge until bin collection day….(maggots are the inevitable consequence of not doing this!)
  • There are loads of Brits and South Africans in Mackay!
  • Whitehaven Beach is like no other on earth – the sand is what makes it so unique! To find out more check out my post all about our recent visit!
  • Australian 50 cent coins are huge!! A couple of those in your purse and you know about it!
  • Even if it is overcast at 7 am by lunchtime it will be bloody hot! Suncream is an essential part of the morning routine!
  • The sunsets are magnificent every night!!

things to do in Mackay Queensland

So thats my round-up from Mackay for this month!! If you are planning a drive up the east coast of Australia then it  is a great place to stop off for a while! We are hoping to drive up to Cairns and Port Douglas at some point – a trip in a camper van or motorhome trip is a must-do! Also coming in next month’s things to do in Mackay Queensland – a review of the restaurants we have so far managed to visit!




Things to do in Mackay Queensland

things to do in Mackay queensland


An expat review of life in Australia

Living in Australia – expat dreams versus expat reality

A round-up of 65 things I have learnt since moving to Australia

 Life in Brisbane Part 1

Expat diary – Life in Brisbane Part 2

 Life in Brisbane Part 3

Expat diary – Life in Mackay Part 1

Life in Mackay Part 2

Expat diary – Life in Mackay Part 3

Top 20 things to do in Queensland

6 common Australian myths debunked

5 reasons to visit Bowen

Where to find animals in their native habitat in Queensland

Rachel’s story – Moving to Australia

10 Australian movies to watch before you visit

A guide to visiting Uluru

25 books about Australian animals to share with children

Sharing stories about our expat life in Brisbane Part 4

Things I love about living in Australia

Things I don’t love about living in Australia



    • September 17, 2017 / 9:58 am

      We can’t wait to drive up to Cairns and Port Douglas – soon hopefully!

  1. Jenn | By Land and Sea
    September 15, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    It’s sounds like you’ve been having a great time in Mackay so far! I’m all for pedicures on the spot, but snakes…. not so much!

    • September 17, 2017 / 9:58 am

      I know! Snakes seem to be featuring quite a lot at the moment!

  2. September 15, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    Tracy, this is all so awesome! Those beaches are gorgeous. I will like to see platypus. I think you are the first person I hear is having problems with an automatic car (it is usually the reverse). I can tell you we rented a manual in Iceland since my husband told me he knew how to drive it. Well, it was kind of a mess because he couldn’t remember some things. #feetdotravel

    • September 17, 2017 / 9:57 am

      I am now totally converted to an automatic!! It is so easy – just took a few hours to stop trying to change gear!

  3. Isobel Malloy
    September 15, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    This is fantastic reading and so informative. A must for all travellers in your new location. I look forward to reading your next blog. Keep up the good work.

    • September 17, 2017 / 9:56 am

      Thanks Isobel 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it and it is useful 🙂

  4. September 16, 2017 / 1:55 am

    This is fabulous! Cannot believe you get to spend your time here. Thanks for sharing the great places you’ve discovered!

  5. Linda Tallett
    September 16, 2017 / 7:10 am

    Brilliant review Tracy, loving learning all about Mackay! It certainly looks like a good start to your expat adventure!

  6. September 17, 2017 / 2:14 pm

    Mackay is a great spot on the Qld coast for you to explore from. You’re going to love Cairns and Port Douglas. See if you can get to Double Island off the coast between Port Douglas and Cairns. It was the first glamping accommodationin in Aus back in the day and is still pretty cool now. Looking forward to your foodie post on Mackay’s restaurants. I’m loving your Aussie posts. “I still call Australia home!” BTW, the 50c piece is huge, but what about it’s shape. LOL! 😀
    Shona @ paraphernalia.co recently posted…Fine Dining For Less #4 – Dubai!My Profile

  7. September 19, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    I can’t believe all the dead kangaroos, that really surprised me! I am still envious of your platypus sighting, and hope to meet one eventually. Good luck with the job, I think it’s going to be a beautiful stay. 🙂
    Scarlett Begonias recently posted…Day trip: Cape Cove BeachMy Profile

  8. Sian Mansey
    September 20, 2017 / 9:18 pm

    It all looks absolutely fab, I don’t mind snakes but not keen on the sand flies! Can’t wait to have a trip out there someday. Keeps the posts coming they are a great read and very informative. The pictures are awesome ?

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:06 am

      Thanks Sian – you do have tp be careful with the snakes as there are a lot of highly venemous ones!

  9. September 22, 2017 / 7:24 am

    Haha, yes you are certainly settling into Aussie life – and if you think it’s hot now in QLD, wait until summer! Strewth, you will be melting like an ice-cream, it’s easy to see why people in North Queensland don’t own a coat or sometimes even a jumper! Looking forward to reading more about your tales from Down Under #feetdotravel

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:04 am

      I know – its going to be hot hot hot – I am already finding cropped trousers even too warm!!

  10. Jenny Guest
    September 23, 2017 / 8:16 am

    FI love reading your blog! Things in feet though?? I was interested to hear about the ten week terms in school – that would be a massive adjustment! So Woolies still going strong? Is it the same? Netflix is good!
    The place looks amazing – such beautiful beaches and the weather looks good. I’d like to see what the towns and houses are like? Keep up the posts – they make even me want to travel and I’m a real homebody! Thank you ?

    • September 24, 2017 / 7:03 am

      No Woolworths abroad is not the same as the one that used to be in the UK – it only sells food! More coming next month about the houses – particularly the traditional Queenslander houses! They are lovely!

  11. September 24, 2017 / 1:34 am

    You have summed it up excellent! I remember my first 15 kangaroos I saw when first coming to Australia were all dead on the side of the road.. I love the Mackay area and this makes me coming up for a visit! Watch out for the hurricane season coming in though ha!

  12. October 2, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    Mackay is indeed a revelation. I too had not heard of the place, but it looks so pristine and untouched. A great getaway in the lap of nature.

    • Tracy
      October 7, 2017 / 2:29 am

      Thanks Sandy!

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