A coastal city on the Pioneer River in Queensland, Australia, Mackay (1996 population: 38,812) lies 962 km by rail north of Brisbane. It is the centre of the largest sugar-producing region in the state. There are seven cane-crushing mills, and three sugar storage sheds with a total capacity of 475,000 tonnes.

The city is also the centre for many new developments in the sugar industry, largely produced at the Sugar Research Institute and the Sugar Experimental Station.

The location of Mackay in relation to the islands of the Great Barrier Reef has been responsible for the city becoming a flourishing tourist centre. It is a transfer point for visitors to Brampton and Lindeman Islands, as well as a departure point for cruises through the Whitsunday Passage.