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Mackay, Queensland

Just less than 1000km north of the Queensland capital of Brisbane, Mackay is a coastal community of some 86,000 people. It’s known as the sugar capital of Australia because growing sugar cane is a major local industry, but it’s also a major player in the Queensland coal industry.

If you want to fit in, you’ll pronounce it Mackay, to rhyme with sky. And you might want to fit in – it’s close to the Great Barrier Reef, the stunning Whitsunday Islands, some of Australia’s best beaches and rainforests, has a summer average temperature of 30C and a winter average of 22C, and very active arts and sports communities.

Thriving but laid-back, the Mackay City Centre enjoys a strong retail industry – not just in the city heart but also in the major shopping centres. The city is known for its beautiful Art Deco buildings and palm trees. The Mackay Council website has more information.

There are plenty of opportunities for sport and recreation – including a wide range of water sports such as snorkelling and fishing. The town also has a strong arts and cultural community, which you’ll notice from the town centre which has dozens of artworks.

Like Emerald, Mackay is booming on the back of its proximity to the Bowen Basin coal-mining region – which is Australia’s largest coal reserve. Mining companies operating in Mackay include BHP Billiton, Anglo Coal, Xstrata and Rio Tinto.

Visit our Life in Australia section for guides to more Key Industry Locations.

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