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Sunrise on the beach with kangaroos and wallabies. It’s a bucket list dream for many.
We road tripped around Australia for 18 months and saw hundreds of kangaroos. My girls and I squealed with delight every time. I probably get more blasé about seeing so many beautiful beaches rather than kangaroos.
They’re gentle, curious and sweet and there’s nothing like watching them in full bounding glory.
Did you know they can leap the length of a bus with one bound? Did you also know that kangaroos cannot move backward? It’s why they are represented on our national emblem, as Australia is a nation always moving forward.
I could tell you many incredible facts about kangaroos. The last one being that they are actually part of the macropod family, which includes 65 species such as wallabies, tree kangaroos, pademelons, and quokkas.
When you visit Casuarina Beach at Cape Hillsborough for sunrise be prepared to meet lots of kangaroos and wallabies, in particular, my favourite, pretty faced wallabies.
As the name suggests, they are so pretty and sweet.
Not long after we arrived at Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park we were getting ready to go up to the bar for dinner and a pretty faced wallaby came to say hi to us. She came right up to our door and quietly ate the grass. The girls and I squealed and watched her.
They are wild, but generally, if used to humans, they’re not shy in coming up for a little looksee. Respect their curiosity and need for space and watch them curiously back without invading their space. You’ll experience more joy from the subtle interaction.
Kangaroos at sunrise at Cape Hillsborough
We rose early to get down to the beach to see the roos at sunrise – an event that’s rising in popularity and turning this relatively unknown coastal town 50km north of Mackay into the place to go.
I spoke in this post about how my job, and the need to get the perfect picture, got in the way of my authentic experience with the roos. But, that’s not the roos, nor the experience’s fault, that’s my choices.
I did have the most delightful experience coming onto the beach, though. A kangaroo bounded up and stopped with its nose almost touching my belly. I’ve never felt such an open, curious, welcoming energy before from an animal, possibly even a fellow human!
A kangaroo bounded up and stopped with its nose almost touching my belly. I’ve never felt such an open, curious, welcoming energy before from an animal, possibly even a fellow human!
I squealed alongside my girls.
I recommend getting to the beach as early as you can before the sun pokes its head up. The colours in the sky are just as spectacular as the kangaroos and wallabies scouring the morning tide for their breakfast of mangrove seed pods, seaweed, and coral sand dollars. Resist the temptation to chase the kangaroos. Allow them to do their thing and enjoy the subtlety of the natural interaction from afar.
Resist the temptation to chase the kangaroos. Allow them to do their thing and enjoy the subtlety of the natural interaction from afar.
The experience won’t last too long. After about half an hour when the sun gets some momentum in its ascension, the macropods will search for cooler ground and disappear into the surrounding shrub. Most people will scurry away as well.
Stay. The colours of the sky are still changing from pink to purple and apricot. You’ll relish in having it and the beach all to yourself. It’s a natural experience just as beautiful as the kangaroos it illuminated only minutes before.
Once you’ve soaked up all of that there is plenty more for you to do in the Cape Hillsborough region.
I don’t think spending 30 minutes on the beach with kangaroos for sunrise is a worthwhile trip if there aren’t other things to do in the area. Thankfully there are.
The island you are gazing at just across from Casuarina Beach is Wedge Island. At low tide, you can walk across the causeway to it. Lorraine from
Lorraine from Ulysses Garden Cafe at Finch Hatton Gorge recommended it to me as one of her favourite things to do. Her kids love playing in the caves over there.
I’ve been told it’s a beautiful beach with great snorkelling locations. Watch for incoming tide, otherwise, you will be stuck over there. You can kayak over there and so not have to worry about the tides.
Walk to Andrew’s Point
You can combine a walk over to Wedge Island on a circular walk to Andrew’s Point. It’s said to be an amazing lookout place, especially to see turtles feeding on the grass beds below at Turtle Cove. Turtle laying and hatching occurs between September and Jan/Feb.
We didn’t have time to walk all the way to Andrew’s Point, but the girls and I managed a shorter walk through the cool rainforest, which opened up to more exposed eucalypt forest the higher you climbed up the stairs to the ridge point. It’s worth it as you get spectacular views over Wedge Island and the broad, sandy Casuarina Beach.
It’s worth it as you get spectacular views over Wedge Island and the broad, sandy Casuarina Beach.
The entire walk to Andrew’s Point is 5.2km return along the track, or 2.8km return via the beach.
Devonshire Tea at the Old Station Tea House
High tea amongst the tropical gardens in the Old Station Tea House is a popular thing to do in Cape Hillsborough. It’s literally an old train station, which was relocated from Marion to this tranquil spot 7km north of Casuarina Beach.
We opted for coffee and cake instead and had a very pleasant time sitting underneath the old trees and chatting with the owners, Michelle and Dwayne, who brought and relocated the train station over 20 years ago and transformed into a gorgeous tea house.
They’ve created a beautiful space for people to come and unwind with a large grassed seating area, and a huge deck overlooking the tropical gardens.
It’s very popular with the locals and bikers out cruising of a weekend and I’ve heard their wood fired pizzas are fantastic. I wish we could have stayed longer.
While there they brought out their pet tawny frogmouth, one of my favourite Australian birds. If you’ve ever tried to see a tawny frogmouth in the wild, you’ll understand why I love them so much.
They are the most amazing camouflagers. I stood under one clinging onto the tree branch on our Gulflander train ride once for about five minutes before I cold finally separate it from the bark.
The girls loved the opportunity to hold the bird and they also loved the gorgeous Siberian husky and cats lazing around on the chairs.
While here don’t forget to make a trip out to Eungella National Park to see wild platypus, and Finch Hatton Gorge for tropical rainforests and hidden swimming holes. This area has so many experiences that make it a worthy place to visit.
Eimeo Beach Hotel
On our way back to Mackay, we stopped in at the popular and highly recommended Eimeo Hotel for lunch and extraordinary views out over the Coral Sea.
Our Bulgarian waiter was so friendly and funny and took us on a tour to admire the grounds. I loved hearing his story and how much he loved living in Mackay. The view was a little hazy, but we could make out the nearby Keswick and Brampton Islands.
Lunch was a delicious halloumi salad and the girls loved their mocktail. It was enjoyable relaxing with them in the sun as our final Mackay experience. We were disappointed our trip to Mackay was over so soon and we had to return to reality.
Eimeo Beach is a popular sheltered bay with white sand and is 20km north of Mackay. Drive up to the hotel slowly so you can enjoy the heritage-listed canopy of mango trees at Mango Avenue. It was divine.
The Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park
The owners of Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park, Renae and Ben Atherton and their three children are so warm, friendly and welcoming as is Rebina who helps manage the park.
The girls and I had dinner with them at their weekly fish and chips of a Friday evening. It’s a social gathering for all staying in the park.
Order your fish and chips, grab a drink and a chit chat and let the kids watch a movie on the outdoor big screen. The girls had such a great time playing with their children and were very upset with me when I dragged them off to bed.
The park has limited internet connection so enjoy the time to disconnect and reconnect to each other and nature. I loved it.
We had a great game of mini golf, which was more like snakes and ladders. On a couple of holes, there are a few different places the ball can go, which can lead you forward or back in time. It was crazy fun!
We stayed in a newly refurbished cabin right on the beachfront. The girls loved climbing the maze of mangrove trees out the front and we enjoyed a lovely breakfast picnic hamper in the morning.
Under Savannah’s instructions, we set up the picnic on the beach before setting off for our walk.
If you’ve experienced any other wonderful things to do in Cape Hillsborough, Mackay please leave them in the comments below!
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My trip to Mackay was in partnership with Mackay Tourism. Visit their website for more information on things to do in Mackay