The Great Barrier Reef is just off the coast (snorkeling, diving and fishing tours are available) and the town is flanked by magnificent national parks like Eungella – home to many diverse and unusual animals and plants. The Farleeigh Sugar Mill has tours during the sugar cane crushing season and there is also a self guided Heritage walk of 22 heritage buildings within the town.
Located between Mackay and Airlie beach is Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort, see kangaroos visit the prisitine beaches, explore Cape Hillsborough National Park with its cascading waterfalls, native wildlife and uninhabited islands.
To the north, Airlie Beach (gateway to the Whitsunday Islands) has white sandy beaches, a wide range of accommodation and activities for holiday makers. Some 74 islands make up the “Whitsunday’s”, most are uninhabited, but the clear turquoise waters make is an irresistible destination. Popular island resorts offer budget or luxury accommodation , most offer a full range of water sports as well as bush walking, tennis, golf, sailing and fish feeding.
Mackay is known as “sugar city’ as it produces about one third of Australia’s sugar crop.
Hamilton, Hayman, and Daydream Islands are a few of the well known islands that make up the Whitsunday’s. This region has a great year round climate so anytime is a good time to have that Island holiday.
The reef is probably Australia’s most prized and visited natural destination. It extends more than 2000 km along Queensland’s coast and is one of the wonders of the natural wonders of the world. Coral reefs are built up by coral polyps – tiny, primitive marine animals that are related to sea anemones. The reefs coral passageways and caves are home to thousands of species of marine life. The surrounding breathtakingly blue aquamarine waters abound with tropical islands, rare brilliantly coloured corals, fish, sea-going mammals and birds. It is the number one world’s destinations for diving, snorkeling, sailing, fishing and other water sports. Out of the reef’s 900 or so islands only 22 of them cater for tourists. Some support large resorts while others are protected by national park and only allow daytrips from the mainland. The islands are divided up into those of The Southern Reef, the Whitsunday’s and the Tropical NorthIslands. The entire reef is World Heritage-listed and protected by the Great Barrier Reef marine Park. If you want to see the reef but stay dry you can always go on a glass-bottomed boat or visit an underwater observatory – Green Island, HookIsland or Townsville has the reef HQ aquarium.