Spotlight on Mackay

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Since Tiger Airways took to the sky in Australia it has managed to rake up over a million flights. The reason why? Its cheap and flys to places like Mackay and Alice Springs which, until recently, cost a small fortune to get there. Flying anywhere in Australia used to be nearly as expensive as going overseas – so most people went overseas! Luckily those days are gone (though with petrol prices fluctuating we might have them back sooner than we think). Until then, make the most of these cheap flights and get yourself onto Tiger Airways.

I flew Tiger soon after they established themselves in 2008. I booked a cheap fare to Mackay $89.00 each way. I knew nothing about Mackay except that it was in Queensland, was just before Townsville and somewhere different than Brisbane, Cairns or the Gold Coast. Mackay was a town that normally I wouldn’t consider for a holiday (partly due to never having heard much about it before).

Housing prices had really taken off in Mackay and it was in the middle of a population boom due to the mining industry. The first question I had though, was what is there to do in Mackay? The answer came fairly quickly after a walk downtown – there wasn’t much to do at all. Mackay is not known for its business centre, which is downright ordinary, consisting of one big mall and sad looking shops on the main streets. Its full of concrete and is hot and unpleaseant to walk around. The accommodation at the local caravan park was pretty sad, the unit had lino peeling off the bathroom floor, some tiles missing and the toilet hadn’t been cleaned properly. The pool at the caravan park was small, crowded and had irky water. Buses into the town centre only came on the hour and meant traipsing through an endless field. I began to regret my hasty decision to fly to Mackay.

I had however, also booked several nights accommodation at the Dolphin Heads Resort at the other end of Mackay. The booking was still for several days away but after 4 nights out of 7 that were booked at the caravan park, I knew I had to get out. Luckily there was a room available at the resort and I hastily called a taxi and made my exit from the caravan park.

The Dolphin Heads Resort was impressive. Situated on the beach front, my room faced out to the sea. The grounds were landscapped and contained one of the biggest outdoor pools I’d ever seen. People gathered round to swim or take a drink at the bar and the pool was also open to the public. Sundays boasted entertainment and families came from around the area bringing the whole place to life.

Most of my stay was spent around the pool, utilising the internet and also watching DVD’s which were free from reception. There were bicycles for borrowing and I would ride to a shop about 20 minutes away or around some of the streets checking out the area. The resort was located quite a way out of town and there was no public transport but this didn’t seem to matter.

Mackay is a gateway to beaches further up the coast that have beautiful water and few crowds. The weather is humid but you can easily get relief from the pools or the sea. There are stingers in the water so it is not suitable to swim all year round at the beaches. Overall, Mackay was pleasant and relaxing but only if you’ve got the right accommodation.

Check out Tiger Airways cheap fares at:

Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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