Welcome to Mackay
Once home to opera star Dame Nellie Melba, this workaday, midsized Queensland city puts tourism a distant second to the machinations of the sugar and agricultural industries, but there's nonetheless plenty to like about Mackay's tropical suburbia. For starters, it's an incongruously impressive art-deco destination, and even better is its location between protected mangroves and a smart, beachy marina. Mackay is a convenient base for excursions out of town, but when the backpacker shuffle and island-hopping overwhelms, its alfresco cafes provide a quick urban fix. It’s only a 1½-hour drive to Airlie Beach and boats to the Whitsundays, and a scenic jaunt past the sugar-cane fields to Eungella National Park.