Passing mountains formed by ancient volcanoes, rich rainforests, coastal scenery and a thriving economy, this loop from Mackay through the coal-rich Isaac region combines well-known attractions with a few secrets.

Story + Photos Don Fuchs

This 855km looped drive from the coast to the inland and back again showcases a relatively unknown part of Queensland, where extinct volcanoes loom large and the scenery causes you to catch your breath. It’s well worth taking a week to experience all the highlights.

At Cape Hillsborough National Park, a 45-minute drive north-west of Mackay, forest-clad hills frame wide beaches. Sea eagles soar overhead, vast mangrove forests form important fish breeding grounds and sea turtles and dugongs live in the water. 

There are several popular walks in the national park, but the big attraction here requires an early start. Every morning, about an hour before sunrise, agile wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos flock to the beach, attracting animal lovers and Instagrammers in droves. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #147

Outback Magazine: February/March 2023