Cape Hillsborough National Park is one of the few places in Australia where you can meet kangaroos on the beach every morning.
The park offers rainforest, eucalypt forest, beaches, headlands with hoop pines, and volcanic rock formations. On top of it, the sunrises are just amazing.
Imagine yourself feeding a kangaroo at dusk while the orange sun is rising in distance. If you like photography, you will get a chance to shoot amazing photos and videos from your sunrise encounters with kangaroos on the beach.
Cape Hillsborough is located 50 km northwest of Mackay and there is a sealed road leading to it.
The temperatures are very welcoming. Winter coldest nights will be 12 degrees, while in summer it hardly drops below 22 degrees at night.
Cape Hillsborough National Park Average Temperatures and Rainfall
Best Time to Visit
As the weather is always welcoming you can visit Cape Hillsborough any time of the year. However in the summer months, between December and March, you can get heavy rain for a few days so better to avoid these months.
Note that during the winter and spring school holidays it gets really busy so make sure to book your accommodation in advance.
Access & how to get there
Driving from Mackay is very easy. Drive north on the Bruce Highway and turn right after 21 km into Seaford Road. Then, travel another 19 km and turn right into Cape Hillsborough Rd. From there it is only a 10 km drive to the park entrance.
There is not much accommodation on offer in Cape Hillsborough but the two we list here are sufficient to enjoy your stay. We recommend staying at Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park for easy access to the beach and kangaroos in the morning.
Alternatively, you can stay in Mackay and go for a day trip to Cape Hillsborough.
Shady campground located at the beach of Ball Bay – on the west side of Cape Hillsborough. If you want to avoid the crowds, go fishing, launch a boat and unwind for a few days Smalleys Beach is for you.
- Tent sites
- Camper trailer and caravan sites
- Picnic tables
Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park was always our first choice of stay. It is due it is conveniently located at the beach in the rainforest. Every morning it is just a 50-meter walk to meet the Cape Hillsborough kangaroos on the beach and enjoy the sunrise.
They offer various accommodations including beach, Queenslander and terrace huts, beach houses, cabins, and power and unpowered sites.
There is a swimming pool, many activities for kids (during school holiday) and close access to all walks.
When you walk to the beach the scenery is amazing: you will see a beautiful wide beach with Wedge Island in distance. The morning sunrise with kangaroos is one of a kind event. In the evening the sandstone cliffs turn red and the beach is covered with long shadows making it perfect for running or any beach activities.
Kangaroo Encounter – Our Tips
One of the main reasons tourists come to Cape Hillsborough is to have a kangaroo encounter on the beach. Indeed, it is amazing to see them every morning in one place, just in front of the caravan park on the beach.
They actually come to the beach to feed on seed pods that have been washed onto the shore. Most of the kangaroos are wild but some are hand-reared or tamed making it a unique mob.
If you want to take some unique photos, make sure to be on the beach at dusk before other tourists arrive. Once the place is crowded, it is difficult to take a good photo.
To have a safe kangaroo encounter make sure to follow some basic rules.
- Stay well back from the animals
- Never feed kangaroos
It is a 5.2 km return walk that takes you to the amazing lookout. Enjoy the breathtaking ocean, island, and coastal views from the top of the hill. The walk is marked as difficult as often you have to step on big stones, but it is nothing extraordinary if you are a fit hiker.
If the tide is low and still incoming you can proceed to Wedge Island, but make sure you come back on time to not get stuck there for the night!
As Wedge Island is located 200 meters offshore of Cape Hillsborough, it is only accessible during the low tide. To make it safe make it 2 hours before the low tide and 2 hours after.
Make sure you take your time to enjoy the Wedge Island. There is a small beach and up in rocks you can get to a cave and walk to the top of the island to enjoy the scenic views of the coastline and surrounding areas.
The 2.2 return walk starts on the north of the tourist park and leads through the open rainforest with hoop pines, ferns and vines to the top of the ridge where you can enjoy spectacular views of the area.
A short and easy 1.2 km return boardwalk that goes through mangroves, eucalypts, cool melaleucas and thick vines of Melaleuca woodland.
The walk is abundant with flora and fauna and you learn about the cultural significance of the Yuibera people. They collected shellfish from the mangroves, roasted them, ate and discarded the empty shells on the large pile or middens.
Yuibera Plant Trail
By walking this 1.2 circuit trail you learn more about the Yuibera people and their connection with the country.
The walk starts behind the Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park and leads through open woodland and shady pockets of rainforest. On the way, you can see the Sandy Bay beach a few times.
During the walk, through various labels and information boards, you learn about plants that the Yuibera Aboriginal people used for food and medicine. You may even see an old fish trap if you are lucky.
Our Experience & Tips
We came to Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park two times during our adventures. The first time, when we were doing our Queensland loop by Eungella National Park to see platypus, and the second time on our way to Cape York.
Both times we enjoyed kangaroos on the beach and Kasha even caught two flatheads that we enjoyed for dinner.
The beach at Cape Hillsborough is stunning and definitely one of the best in Australia.
During our stay, we did all the walks and learned a lot about Cape Hillsborough and the traditional owners. It is a great place to stay with your family for at least a week.
The place gets busy during the school holidays, so make sure you book your spot early enough.
Have you been to Cape Hillsborough? What was your experience?
Please drop a comment below.
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