Mackay is a region of Queensland that has it all. The hustle and bustle of the Mackay CBD brings its own brand of excitement with a thriving economy, but what if you wanted to escape for a few days?
Luckily, Mackay is close to many scenic camping spots away from the concrete jungle. There are some absolutely gorgeous areas where you can set up your tent, camper trailer or park your caravan and enjoy the great outdoors.
You can find your own little slice of paradise in the national parks or on the pristine beaches, if you know where to look.
Here are some of the Mackay region’s best camping spots.
Cape Hillsborough Nature Park
Cape Hillsborough National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mackay. Nestled along the Central Mackay Coast, it is home to eucalypts, mangroves, beach-loving kangaroos, wallabies and the migrating Humpback/Dwarf Minke whales every winter.
Cape Hillsborough Nature Park has beachside campsites (powered and unpowered) where you can bring your tents and camper trailers to explore the whole of the cape. The park also has swimming pools, barbeques, camp kitchen, laundry, a bar and a diner. You and your family can enjoy fishing, bushwalking, the beach, boating, mini-golf and getting up with the kangaroos in the morning.
The camping sites are very popular among holidaymakers, so bookings must be made before you arrive at the property. Reserving a spot at the powered campsite costs $40 per night, while an unpowered campsite spot costs $35 nightly. Note that during public holidays, a minimum of 3-night stay is required.
If you wish to avoid the crowds then you can camp in the National Park and Smalley’s Beach to the north west, which makes for a fantastic experience in itself. There’s no diner or powered sites, but camper trailers and caravans are welcome.
Cape Creek Camping Area
Right at the coastal foot of the region is where you’ll find Cape Palmerston National Park. Around 60 kilometres south of the Mackay CBD, it offers a vast 7200 hectares of camping space. It’s also where you’ll find one of the best camping spots in Mackay, the Cape Creek Camping Area.
Accessible only by a 4WD, the campsite is located on the beach at the mouth of a short creek. Getting to Cape Creek requires a further 45-minute drive once you enter the national park. Don’t worry, there are signs inside the park that you can follow towards the camping area. You can camp for a maximum of 22 nights on the sand or grass, where you can set-up a tent and park your camper trailer or caravan.
There are picnic tables and pit toilets around the Cape Creek Camping Area. You can bring your tinny for boating and fishing thanks to the boat ramp on site. You can enjoy crabbing, barbequing, or just enjoy the breath-taking view from the area.
Camping permits and fees are required to book a spot in the campsite. The fee per night is $6.55/person or $26.20/family (maximum of 8 people). Children under 5 years old are free. Remember that once you enter the campsite, the camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at all times. Find out more here.
Do you want to camp somewhere with a smaller crowd and experience peace while enjoying ocean scenery? Well, it sounds like you need to visit Keswick Island. It’s an island paradise in the Coral Sea some 34 kilometres northeast of Mackay. It is also part of the South Cumberland Islands National Park.
Aside from camping and glamping, you can charter a golf cart to roam around and enjoy the awesome views of nearby islands or explore the flora and fauna of the island. You can also go kayaking, snorkelling, diving and fishing on the surrounding waters.
There are barbeque facilities, camp and communal kitchens, and outdoor furniture. You can either bring your own camping equipment or hire some on the island. Keswick Island is one of the best camping spots in Mackay and one of the most luxurious ones, too.
How do you get there? If the weather is good, you can visit Keswick Island with your own boat. Megaforce Charters provide day trips and transfers to the island, or jump on a scenic flight from Mackay.
Fern Flat camping area
One of the two main camping areas in Eungella National Park, Fern Flat camping area is the site beside Broken River that will give you a good chance to see some platypus. It’s located 5 km from the Eungella Township, which is about 80km west of Mackay City. Eungella National Park is accessible by conventional vehicles, but the Fern Flat camping area itself can only be accessed on foot.
The camping area has eight sites and a maximum of four people can camp per site. In terms of camping equipment, only tents are allowed on these sites. Motorhomes, caravans, and camper trailers are forbidden, but you can leave them at the parking spaces inside Eungella National Park. There are barbecue areas, picnic tables, hybrid toilets and an information centre at the camping area.
Camping at Fern Flat will bring you closer to hundreds of animal and plant species. You’ll be immersed in nature like never before. Just make sure to bring food, sun protection, insect repellent, a reliable torch with extra batteries and a first-aid kit. More importantly, bring plenty of fresh drinking water because you can’t access fresh water in this camping area.
Broken River bush camp
If you want to visit Eungella National Park and have a more open-air experience, then head to the Broken River bush camp. Situated amongst the natural bushland near Broken River, it also has eight campsites like the Fern Flat camping area. But unlike Fern Flat, Broken River bush camp allows camper trailers, small motor homes, and medium-sized caravans.
Aside from the usual camping essentials, it’s recommended to bring a fuel stove for cooking. Since the bush camp is not powered, you are allowed to bring your own generator below 65dB(A) and operate it daily from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Both Fern Flat and Broken River bush camp have no mobile phone coverage.
Right beside Cape Hillsborough National Park resides another one of the best camping spots in Mackay. Smalley’s Beach has 11 camping sites that will give you stunning views of Ball Bay. All you need to do is make a booking at the Department of National Parks website and you’re off to a great camping experience.
Smalley’s Beach camping ground is smaller than most camping spots in Mackay. There are not many amenities except picnic tables, toilets and a few caravan sites. There is however a source of clean water around the area, so you don’t have to worry about boiling creek water for something to drink.
Note: Fishing is a good activity in Smalley’s Beach, but you have to bring your own fishing equipment.
Eungella Dam Camping Area
Attention water sport fanatics and anglers, this is the best camping spot for you. Eungella Dam is one of the most established freshwater fisheries in Australia and is a great place for water skiing, jet skiing, wakeboarding and other water sports. The dam has a strong population of black bream and large barramundi, which attracts many anglers to the area.
It has hectares of camping areas, where you can pitch a tent next to your car or stay in your motorhomes and caravans. There is plenty of firewood around the area and there are drop-down toilets as well.
Eungella Dam Camping Area is located 35 kilometres west of Eungella Township and can be reached with a normal vehicle.
Get Closer to Mackay’s Best Camping Spots
These incredible camping locations provide even more reason to choose Mackay as your new home. And there’s no better place to find an affordable brand new property than The Waters Ooralea. Just take a look at this great range of house and land packages on offer.
Located in the heart of the Mackay region less than 9km away from the CBD, The Waters Ooralea gives you the best of both worlds. You will have plenty of employment opportunities close to home as well as access to all of these fantastic camping spots when it’s holiday time.
Call us now or enquire online to discover the community that will bring you closer to nature.
*Prices current as at March 2019