Despite being close to Eungella National Park, the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands, Mackay has not capitalised greatly on its location. Only 5.3% of the region's production is generated from tourism; with 59% of tourism income coming from accommodation and 28% coming from retail sales. Mackay holds a current position as a stop-over location as evident by the many motor-inns - but bodies are working toward greater capitalisation on the tourism market . New facilities, such as Artspace Mackay, are being used not only as centres of culture for the town, but also as new ways of attracting tourists.
The Gardens, opened in 2003, focus on rare native plants of Central Queensland. They are located in Lagoon St, West Mackay, on the way to the City Gates. Before 2003, the area was commonly called "The Lagoons." "The Lagoons" were redeveloped into the Botanic Gardens - complete with new plants, flowers, pathways, children's rides, and a restaurant.
Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens
One of the first Europeans to travel through the Mackay region was Captain James Cook, who reached the Mackay coast on June 1, 1770 and named several local landmarks, including Cape Palmerston, Slade Point and Cape Hillsborough. It was during this trip that The Endeavour's botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, briefly recorded seeing Aborigines. The City of Mackay was later founded on Yuibera traditional lands.
Although several other maritime explorers sailed through the waters off Mackay, it was not until 1860 when moves were made to claim the region's virgin pastures.
Two eager young men, John McCrossin and Scottish-born John Mackay, assembled a party of eight, including an Aborigine named Duke, and left Armidale, New South Wales in January 1860. Two men left the party in Rockhampton while the others reached the top of the range overlooking the Mackay district's Pioneer Valley in May. After descending into the valley and exploring almost to the mouth of the river, which they named the Mackay, the members of the party selected land and began the trip back to civilisation. On the return journey, they all suffered from a fever that claimed the life of Duke.
Mackay returned to the area with 1200 head of cattle in January 1862 and founded Greenmount station. Although the other members of his first expedition had marked runs, none but Mackay took up their claims. However, Mackay remained in possession of Greenmount for less than two years. Ownership transferred to James Starr in September 1864 and, despite Mackay's protests, he never succeeded in regaining control. Greenmount passed through a number of owners' hands before being bought by A.A. Cook in 1913. Before leaving the district, John Mackay chartered the vessel Preston, which landed stores from him on the riverbank about a kilometre upstream from the present Hospital Bridge. Mackay made a survey of the river and the chart was sent to Rockhampton. The Port of Mackay was then officially declared a port of entry.
In 1866, a white settler was killed by a local Aboriginal tribe which was then hunted down by the police. A mother, Kowaha, with her infant girl, was chased and pinned between the top of a cliff and her white pursuers where, according to legend, she made the decision to jump to her death rather than be caught. Her baby miraculously survived and was raised by local white settlers. The cliff is now known as The Leap: a reminder of Queensland's bloody past.
In 1918, Mackay was hit by a major Tropical Cyclone causing severe damage and loss of life with hurricane-force winds and a large storm surge. The resulting death toll was further increased by an outbreak of Bubonic plague.
The largest loss of life in an Australian aircraft accident, with 29 deaths, occurred on 10 June 1960 when a Fokker Friendship flew into the sea five nautical miles east of Mackay Airport. As a result of this crash "black boxes" became compulsory in Australian aeroplanes.
4MKFM 101.9 FM (commercial)
Sea FM 98.7 FM(commercial)
Hot FM 100.3 FM(commercial)
Easy Listening 1026 AM (commercial)
ABC Classic FM 97.9 FM
Triple J 99.5 FM
ABC Local Radio Tropical North101.1 FM
ABC Radio National 102.7 FM
4CRM 107.5 FM (community)
Vision FM 88.0 FM(narrowcast)
93.9 FM (narrowcast)
Racing Radio 103.5 FM (narrowcast)