Mackay is a super sweet little place, not least because the region accounts for more than a third of Australia's cane sugar.
Mining is pretty big in the area too – as illustrated by the expansion of rail and port faciilities and an innovative new mining tourism trail, encouraging visitors to stop at the towns and attractions between the major regional centres of Clermont and Mackay. It's an initiative of Mackay Tourism and follows the passage of the region's coal exports from mines to seaport.
Mackay has all the facilities you'd expect in a growing regional city of more than 100,000. There are three major shopping centres (Mt Pleasant Greenfields alone has 250 specialty stores) offering the likes of K-Mart, Target, Woolworths, Big-W, Action supermarket, Bunnings, Toyworld, Super-Amart. It's also serviced by an array of private and public schools.
The Bowen Basin coalfields are located in the hinterland west of Mackay. The major product is high-quality coking coal for steel furnaces, but thermal coal for power generation is also produced. Mining companies operating in the region include:
Tourism is also a big money spinner, with Airlie Beach (the gateway to the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef) just 130km to the north.
For everything you need to know and a stack of useful sites, visit Mackay Regional Council. (Check out 'economic development' in the business section for heaps of great info on the growth of the region and services on offer).
Ever lived in Mackay? Tell us about it...
"Our Kiwi family moved to Mackay from the Northern Territory 18 months ago as my husband works in the coal mines in the Bowen Basin (or over the hill, as the locals call it). We enjoy living here as the weather is great and we always have a nice sea breeze, so you don't feel like you are suffocating in the heat. Being close to the sea is great too for the fishermen, boaties, sightseeing on the Barrier Reef and surrounding islands. Mackay has many good shopping centres which are expanding all the time, a heap of schooling options including private and state schooling, childcare and preschool facilities too. There are also many sports and recreational facilities for people of all ages. We have private and public hospitals, heaps of doctors, dentists and specialists here. The local bus transport system is great, as is our airport. The thing I like most about living in Mackay is I don't have to leave town to get what I want (ie products and services) so I'm happy.
- Christine Baker
"We've lived in Mackay for 18 months now and are enjoying it. We bought a house last year and have one teenager at the local high school. My husband works at Middlemount, seven days on and seven off."
- Happy Mackay-ite