You're just down the road from 4WD heaven in Mackay
MACKAY is four-wheel-drive heaven.
Not only are there plenty of 4WD vehicles on the roads due to the number of people who work in the mining industry, there are also many who seek out the locations where they can spend a relaxing day or weekend with their vehicles.
Mackay Land Rover Club president Kerry Purcell's Nissan Patrol has done 300,000km, much of it in regular outings to the many 4WD tracks and camping sites in the district.
"We're a family club, with up to 60 families involved," he said.
"There are plenty of tracks which are widely known, but being in a club gives the advantage of tapping into the experience of others who can help with access and safety factors.
"We've always been into camping and as a club we are able to access the more remote camping sites."
4WD enthusiasts are also catered to by the Mackay and District 4WD Club.
Both clubs can be found on the internet and welcome inquiries.
Here's our top four tracks in the Mackay region:
1. Cape Palmerston National Park
How to get there: Turn off Bruce Hwy at Ilbilbie, about 70km south of Mackay. Drive east 6.5km towards Greenhill.
Why it's great: It's a great spot for beach and creek fishing, and camping.
Tips: It's beach driving 4WD only, so reduce tyre pressure for the sand. Watch out for the soft sand at Shifty Point.
Watch out for: The tides. They can reach 6m, so check the high and low times before you go and don't get stranded.
2. The Diggings, Crediton State Forest
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. A camping ground at Broken River is about 5km in.
Why it's great: It's a historical area where gold mines once operated and there is a maze of tracks once you're across the river.
Tips: It's an area for high-clearance 4WD vehicles only with low ratio transfer. Don't bring mum's 'town' 4WD here.
Watch out for: Sections are very steep and tracks are often eroded so there is a need for extreme care.
3. Cathu State Forest
How to get there: Take the Bruce Hwy north from Mackay, turn left at 72km, then it is 12km to a camping ground, and 7km up the Clarke Range to a lookout.
Why it's great: Wonderful views from the lookout out to sea covering a large section of the Whitsundays.
Tips: It's a state forest, so if the roads are not safe it will be closed by the authorities.
Watch out for: The road up to the lookout is very steep with very sharp hairpin bends and can be slippery when wet. There are plenty of old logging tracks in the area.
4. Captain's Crossing, Mia Mia State Forest
How to get there: Turn off the Mackay-Eungella Rd at Pinnacle, about 50km west, then drive 20km south-west through the forest.
Why it's great: Bush camping is permitted, with a permit.
Tips: Roads may be closed in wet weather.
Watch out for: The private property beyond Captain's Crossing. Don't trespass.