A hidden holiday paradise uncovered in Mackay’s backyard

Mackay in North Queensland has many beaches. One of my favourites destinations continues to be Cape Hillsborough National Park and Beach. This beach paradise has a long sandy shores often shared with scuttling soldier crabs, splendid views that curve around a sheltered cove, great fishing, walks around reclaimed volcanic landscape and Australian wildlife.

Cape Hillsborough is found just outside of Mackay in North Queensland, Australia. This hidden tourist destination is not just a fun place to drive into, but if you have time it is worth a much longer stay than just a day or two.

Cape Hillsborough at Sunrise, Queensland
Cape Hillsborough at Sunrise, Queensland by michellesapstead, on Flickr


What you can discover in this paradise

Cape Hillsborough does have its own Nature Resort and Tourist Park.  I’ve been told by tourists visiting Cape Hillsborough that this is a good place to stay with clean amenities. The place is often booked out in peak seasons, as it is a popular place for campers and tourists who want to stay in the area.

Cape Hillsborough National Park - map of walking tracks
Cape Hillsborough National Park – map of walking tracks by Tatters:), on Flickr

The drive to Cape Hillsborough takes about 50 km going North, North-West from Mackay. It is a National Park and during the wet seasons you can expect to find the area teeming with Australian wildlife, especially Kangaroos.  Large seawater turtles are also frequent visitors on the beach. (Check that the area is not in a drought before you visit, as many of the wildlife animals are known to migrate to other areas when local watering holes are dry.)

Not all the wildlife is friendly. You may meet

  • snakes, including dangerous sea snakes (always cut your line if you snag one)
  • jellyfish, including Australia’s deadly box jelly
  • scorpions, especially along the rainforest walks
  • saltwater crocodiles, who are known to nest in the area

Kangaroos can also get a little dangerous, especially the ones fed by tourists, so watch your lunch.

Cape Hillsborough Beach Sunrise
Image Courtesy — Cape Hillsborough Beach Sunrise by lordsheppy, on Flickr

The beach is large, long and beautiful with rain forest reaching all the way down to the sandy shores.  There are a number of wildlife walks through the rain forest. There are some steep walks that wind around old dead volcanoes. Be sure to take plenty of water with you if you choose to go on a walkabout. Do not go off the designated paths and always let people know back at your campsite or home, where you intend to walk, just in case you do get lost.

Cape Hillsborough
This photo shows the view from a lookout along one of the many walks around Cape Hillsborough. — Image Courtesy — Cape Hillsborough by linkwize – great while it lasted; nice knowing you, on Flickr

If you are on the beach at low tide, as I was in the photo below, you may happen to come across swarms of soldier crabs.  These are very friendly crabs, very small and colorful.

Enjoying my time in paradise
Cape Hillsborough – Big Beautiful Beaches and lots of soldier crabs to chase and befriend.
Soldier Crabs at Cape Hillsborough
Soldier Crabs close up – These are generally friendly little creatures found along the main stretch of beach. Image Courtesy – IMG_5354.JPG by michael40001, on Flickr


How to enjoy the paradise of Cape Hillsborough

You will enjoy Cape Hillsborough especially if you like

  • fishing, (great place to catch various types of coral fish)
  • walking along beaches
  • exploring tidal rock pools
  • taking in scenic trails
  • swimming
  • relaxing in the shade on hot summer afternoons

This paradise can be a one day adventure. But you will need at a minimum

  • a vehicle to drive there
  • boat and gear if you want to go boating, and / or fishing (boat ramp available)
  • a wide-brimmed hat
  • sunscreen
  • sneakers or sand shoes
  • refreshments  – much cheaper to make your own lunch than to purchase it at the resort
  • togs, if you want to go swimming, preferably a stinger suit
  • camera for memorable holiday snaps!

Always take precautions against jellyfish especially during the summer months. If you don’t have a stinger suit,  you can wear hosiery over your arms and legs with normal bathers as a precaution. Take it from me, you don’t want to get stung. But it if you do, having a couple of bottles of white vinegar on you will help to get the stingers off you.

Check the weather before going, most beaches up north can get nasty if there is a tropical low hanging about and don’t forget to take the aeroguard.


This article was first published at U-Foria.com – Appreciating the finer things in every day life on 28 November 2013.

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