The top camping spots around Mackay
SANDY beaches, windswept headlands, shimmering clear blue waterfalls, mild winters, and the tranquil beauty of the coast, islands and rainforests make the Mackay region a camper's dream.
Campers are well catered for with a wealth of facilities including barbecues or fireplaces provided at many of the areas. Mackay is one of the best places in Queensland to camp, with a pleasant year-round climate. It generally rains heavily here from December to March, so campers should come prepared.
If intending to camp, especially in national park areas, you will need to obtain a permit and pay a fee, with advance bookings recommended during the school holidays. Areas such as Cape Palmerston, Cape Hillsborough and most islands around Mackay are protected national parks, so visitors are encouraged to leave all plants and animals undisturbed.
More info on mackayregion.com
Meanwhile, here's our pick of the top camping spots in the region:
1 The Diggings, Eungella
GPS: 21°10'25"S 148°28'47"E
How to get there: Drive west about 70km to Eungella. Turn right at the signposted gravel road a few kilometres from Eungella township heading towards Broken River. The camping ground at Broken River is about 5km in.
Why it's great: It's a 4WD site only, so hordes of day-trippers in their family cars don't get there. The camping ground is an open area with no defined sites.
Tips: There are no facilities; camping fees apply.
Watch out for: Fires are allowed with milled timber only.
2 Cape Palmerston National Park
GPS: 21°38'35"S 149°26'5"E
How to get there: Turn off the Bruce Hwy at Ilbilbie, about 70km south of Mackay. Drive east 6.5km towards Greenhill.
Why it's great: This area has great fishing, both beachfront and creeks. A boat ramp is available, so take your tinny on the car top.
Tips: There are defined camping areas; camping fees apply.
Watch out for: This is 4WD access only with plenty of beach driving, so experience is vital. Take caution at Shifty Point where there is soft sand.
3 Eungella Dam
GPS: 21°08'56"S 148°23"10E
How to get there: Drive to Eungella. The dam is 35km west of Eungella Township with some gravel.
Why it's great: The dam has terrific barra fishing thanks to stocking, with fish of up to a metre being caught. The camping area has hectares of space with no defined sites. It's a great place for water sports such as skiing and jet skis, as powered vehicles are allowed. There are water taps and toilets, but no showers. You can get there in your ordinary 2WD vehicle.
Tips: Camping fees apply.
Watch out for: The dam has a reputation for being windy, so look out for that or give it a miss if the forecast is no good.
4 Broken River
How to get there: Take the Peak Downs Highway from Mackay and turn right on Mackay-Eungella Road. It's about an hour and a quarter drive.
Why it's great: If you like the idea of camping but aren't sure how much you really want to rough it, then the Broken River Campground is the ideal place to start - this new camping area was launched in September 2014.
The new area, next to the platypus viewing areas at Broken River, opens up an extra 12 bush camping sites.
This allows campers to access the platypus viewing areas and stroll on the recently opened platypus walk.
Tips: Fireplaces are provided. This is the place to roast a few marshmallows with the family while enjoying a bit of peace.
Watch out for: Bubbles as you wait to see a wild platypus.
5 Cape Hillsborough
How to get there: Take the Bruce Hwy north from Mackay and after The Leap, turn right on Yakapari-Seaforth Rd and after 20km turn right on to Cape Hillsborough Rd, which will take you to Risley Pde.
Why it's great: Camping in Mackay isn't limited to the rainforest - the Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort is right next to the beach. Camping and caravan sites are available on this family-friendly property. The park, less than an hour from Mackay, is surrounded by the beautiful Cape Hillsborough National Park.
Tips: Bring your walking shoes.
Watch out for: Morning marsupials. Visitors can wake up and see kangaroos on their morning beach hop. Keep an eye out for turtles, and see whales during their migration season.
6 Smalleys Beach
How to get there: Take the Bruce Hwy north from Mackay and after The Leap, turn right on Yakapari-Seaforth Rd and after 20km turn right on to Cape Hillsborough Rd. Turn left on the gravel road after Kippen Drive.
Why it's great: A great getaway. You know as you travel via a sign-posted gravel road off the Cape Hillsborough Road that the Smalleys Beach camping area is small and basic. But it has picnic tables, toilets, town water and some sites for caravans.
Tips: Bring the fishing gear.
Watch out for: The signpost on Cape Hillsborough Rd leading to Smalleys Beach.