I am a freelance writer, business woman and busy mum of two who is on a mission to embrace all Mackay has to offer after moving here for my husband's work two years ago. Join me on my journey...
Published October 19th 2013
Serenity in the shade
The natural beauty of Shoal Point park and beach leaves you feeling serene. You drive over the hill (wondering if you've come too far?) and suddenly it hits you. A border of paperbark trees reaching skyward; a simple park nestled in the shade with toilets, barbecues and parking nearby; and a flat, sandy beach and crystal clear water that stretches across to islands that remind you that the Whitsundays are really only a stone's skip away.
When I first saw this view it enveloped me and I remember saying to myself; "Ok, well maybe I could live here." Its tranquil beauty is so far removed from the inner city bustle and manicured polish of Brisbane parks that it has a charm that is all Mackay's own.
Now I have lived here for several years Shoal Point park and beach has lived up to its promise. It provides a perfect outdoor playspace for pre-school playdates with a simple nautical themed park that also includes swings and a see-saw. It is one of the few parks in Mackay that is truly well shaded so playdates can be easily scheduled even during hot mornings or afternoons. The toilets are handy nearby and if you feel like a quick sausage sizzle for lunch the barbecues are so well used they are always clean.
For the bigger kids Shoal Point park and beach offers an adventure that reminds me of the freedoms I had as a child. What is it you ask? Tree climbing. But not just your ordinary climb up a tree, and climb down adventure. No, the trees at Shoal Point create a canopy of branches that adventurous children use as a highway; criss crossing from tree to tree as they go up one way and come down another. Often I watch my 7 year old plot his way across; stretching his limbs as the pressures of school slip away.
These same trees provide homes to different wildlife who do not hesitate to say hello as if to say "I know, it really is beautiful here isn't it?" We now bring a little snack deliberately for the possum that you can hand feed and the kookaburras are starting to request similar treatment.
When the charm of the park pales the beach beckons. At low tide the beach stretches across to the uninhabited islands nearby. My boys look for dinosaur prints in the sand convinced that the nearby island is in fact a prehistoric park untouched by time or humankind. The rock pools provide a fun place to splash and when stinger season really hits; a great place to dig your own rock pool (using the sand to filter any nasties) deep enough to paddle in.
In Brisbane we'd be tripping over people as we play; but here even though it is a popular spot you have enough space to pretend you are alone; or company if you choose to say hello. It's ideal for picnics, barbecues and family events as well; with the ramp and flat hard sand making the beach more accessible for the elderly or those with a disability.
We don't just leave Shoal Point park and beach for the good weather. No, when the wet season hits we've spent many an afternoon walking away from civilization in the hot, tropical rain catching the droplets in our mouths or spinning round and round on the beach in the wind. At the end of a tiring school day my kids can scream as loudly as they like and it's as if any angst is scooped up by the wind and simply tossed out to sea. Occasionally I've found it quite therapeutic to join them!
Shoal Point park and beach is one of Mackay's truly special places that is accessible to all. Whether Mackay is your hometown or you are just passing through it is one of the region's natural wonders that must be enjoyed; if only for a single, serene moment.