Rockhampton to Mackay is a 336km (about four hours) journey up the Bruce Hwy and judging by the billboards along the way it can be a little boring so the Queensland Government billboards keep asking "Are we there yet, dad?" and "Are we there yet, mum?". They also ask a trivia question "What is the state flower?".....it is the Cooktown Orchid.
Along the way we did stop at Clairview, the waters here are a protected sanctuary for the endangered mammal, the Dugong. Not that we saw any Dugongs or water for that matter as the tide was a very, very long way out. Really it was way off in the distance.
Mackay is nicknamed the sugar capital of Australia because its region produces more than a third of Australia's sugar. Driving along we saw sugar cane being harvested into the purpose-built sugar cane trains. There are lots of sugar cane mills billowing steam from their giant chimneys which dot the landscape.
Mackay has its fair share of lovely heritage listed buildings in town and many are art-deco inspired. We spent two nights at the centrally located International Lodge for $100 a night. For dinner one night we ate at Hogs Breath and the the following night at a nearby Japanese Restaurant. It has been a little tricky dining out due to the restrictions on patron numbers and many restaurants being closed and others booked out. Most places require us to give our name, address and contact details.
As we'd visited the town in 2018 we decided to head out to explore nature at the Finch Hatton Gorge section of Eungella National Park. This is considered to be the longest continual stretch of sub-tropical rainforest in Australia. The air was fresh and the sun was shining as we walked through lush flora and large volcanic boulders to some wonderful waterfalls and cascades.