Cape Hillsborough
Experience | beach | national park | nature | Mackay and Whitsunday | Queensland

Cape Hillsborough

Sunrise breakfast with roos

by Susie Baber  |  4 September 2022

Cape Hillsborough is best known for the beach where you are able to get up close and personal with kangaroos and wallabies. At sunrise they venture down to Casaurina Beach to feed, traditionally on seaweed and seedpods washed up on the shore, but these days rangers supplement their diet with special macropod food to help keep them healthy and to keep them coming back for the tourists. An area is marked out on the sand with cones – tourists on one side, kangaroos and wallabies on the other keeping both people and animals safe. Overseeing this breakfast ritual is also an opportunity for Queensland Parks and Wildlife to educate us about the animals and the area they live in.

Sunrise is the best time to see wallabies and kangaroos on the beach – and also a perfect photo op with the orange sky providing a beautiful backdrop for your nature photography. If early mornings are really not your thing you will see them on and off throughout the day in the picnic areas and campsites nearby.

Our plan had been to spend two nights at Cape Hillsborough and have a break from driving. There are two places you can camp in the area – Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park or Smalleys Beach. Smalleys beach is the only Queensland National Park camping site and has only a handful of spots, places fill up fast and it was all booked out by the time we tried our luck, but we managed to get one of the last spots in the Tourist Park.

The Tourist Park is right by the beach and offers cabins as well as camping for motorhomes, camper vans, and caravans. There are bbq areas and camp kitchens, three amenity blocks, a laundry and an outdoor pool. Near reception there is also a cafe where you can get drinks, snacks, and if you time it right takeaway meals. To keep the kids (and big kids) entertained they have a stash of board games, books and puzzles and even run regular outdoor movie screenings.

When we arrived at Cape Hillsborough it was incredibly windy – bad enough to rock the van and force extra security measures for those sleeping in a swag. The wind was enough to send us running after the first night, but I did get my morning with the Kangaroos on the beach, so I was happy.

Although to be perfectly honest it was not quite what I expected. The spectacular photos you see of our furry friends posing in front of a vivid morning sky do not hint at what you are actually going to encounter on the beach at Cape Hillsborough. You won’t be strolling along a deserted beach with wallabies hopping around you. There will be more tourists than roos. Getting that perfect shot of the iconic Aussie animal silhouetted against the sunrise will require you to worm your way to the front of the crowd and wait for Mr Roo to lift his head from his breakfast buffet. Having said that it is still a very special experience, and I am thrilled that I was able to be part of it.

I would love to come back and spend more time in this amazing National Park. There are several beautiful walks that we didn’t get to enjoy, ranging from the 1.2 km return Diversity Boardwalk to the harder 5.2 km return on Andrews Point Track which climbs the headland through the coastal scrub and looks out over Cape Hillsborough Beach, Wedge Island, and the hinterland beyond. At low tide you can walk out to Wedge Island over a sand spit. From here you will have fabulous views back to the white sands of Cape Hillsborough set against the rainforest.

Share this story