On a recent road trip from Townsville to the Sunshine Coast we detoured to Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park, approximately 50 km north of Mackay Australia.
Have you seen photos of Cape Hillsborough Kangaroos on the beach?
We are Australians and have seen plenty of kangaroos in real life, but only once before had we seen kangaroos on the beach and it was on this very beach, 20 years ago. Another special wildlife experience is seeing Platypus in the wild at Broken River also near Mackay.
Seeing Cape Hillsborough Kangaroos on the beach is a wonderful experience, maybe even a once in a lifetime experience. Make sure you put in on your Things to do in Queensland list today.
We pre-booked our powered caravan site at Cape Hillsborough Caravan Park (more later) arriving in time to explore the park and have pre-dinner drinks with some like-minded travellers.
Before bed we set our alarm for a pre-dawn wake-up.
Cape Hillsborough kangaroos are early risers!
What You Will Find in This Post
- Where is Cape Hillsborough?
- Where to see Kangaroos – Cape Hillsborough.
- What do Kangaroos eat at Cape Hillsborough beach?
- Are Cape Hillsborough Kangaroos Wild?
- How best to Enjoy the Kangaroos and Wallabies
- Are Kangaroos Dangerous?
- What are the differences between Kangaroos and Wallabies?
- Kangaroos in Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park
- What is special about Cape Hillsborough National Park?
- Walking Tracks
- What other animals Can I see at Cape Hillsborough
- Cape Hillsborough Accommodation
- Planning Tips and Information.
- Map of Cape Hillsborough – Proserpine and Mackay
- Other places to see Kangaroos in Queensland
Where is Cape Hillsborough?
Cape Hillsborough is approximately 50 km north of Mackay Australia and more than 1000 km north of the state capital of Brisbane. The turnoff when coming by road from the north and towing a caravan is 104 km south of Proserpine. There is another turnoff before then but it’s not recommended when towing vans.
Where to see Kangaroos – Cape Hillsborough.
Each day before the sky lightens, a mix of eastern grey wild kangaroos and wallabies congregate on the beach directly in front of the Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park.
What do Kangaroos eat at Cape Hillsborough beach?
They might be down at the ocean sipping seawater, but mainly they munch on dead sticks and mangrove seeds foraged from the high tide line – it’s a natural roo’s smorgasbord.
They also like munching on Sand Dollars. Sand Dollars are those white, star embossed, flat dollar sized shells you see on the beach. Only they are not shells, but flat burrowing sea urchins. When alive, they lie just under the sand, are purple and covered in bristles.
Don’t Feed the Kangaroos
Cape Hillsborough Beach – from the Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park end.
Are Cape Hillsborough Kangaroos Wild?
Yes. It’s impossible to tell their level of tolerance to humans but most on the beach are wild.
Two large Eastern Grey Kangaroos hang out in the Tourist Park but do also go down to the beach in the morning. They are used to having tourists around but shouldn’t be touched or fed.
The Wallaby on the left in the photo below, is rubbing his claws in a fast upward motion on his chest. It looks quite comical, but it is challenging the other to fight.
Even though the animals on the beach at Hillsborough are wild, they are very polite (which can’t be said for all the humans) and go about their business in a nonchalant way.
But they are always listening and watching and ready to flee.
When the sun strengthens, they hop back into the bush or the tourist park.
Kangaroos are diurnal and are most active before sunrise and sunset. They will lie in a nice patch of dirt in the shade of a bush during the hottest parts of the day.
How best to Enjoy the Kangaroos and Wallabies
We never dreamed there would be so many humans witnessing this ritual breakfast. It was reminiscent of Tak Bat in Luang Prabang with some photographers standing back using their zoom lenses and others getting right up in the faces of the kangaroos.
This is unnecessary and disorientating for the kangaroos.
- It upsets their normal eating routine.
- Getting between a kangaroo and it’s retreat route is dangerous.
Tip: Use a Zoom lens and leave the kangaroos a free path to the tree line.
Are Kangaroos Dangerous?
Following on from the previous point.
Kangaroos can inflict injuries if they feel threatened. When threatened they jump up and kick their powerful hind legs at your chest to knock you down. They are powerful animals and they will knock you down.
A kangaroo attack leaves you bruised and extremely sore for a week or more. It is not to be taken lightly and has the potential to spoil your holiday completely.
What are the differences between Kangaroos and Wallabies?
The only notable difference between wallabies and kangaroos is size and colour.
They are usually all referred to as kangaroos unless they are small in which case they become wallabies.
There are mostly wallabies on the beach and they are Agile Wallabies. The Kangaroos are Eastern Grey Kangaroos.
Kangaroos in Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park
Two tall Eastern Grey Kangaroos reside in the Caravan Nature Park.
It’s best not to feed them so they don’t expect food from humans and start intimidating people to get it. This is bound to end badly for everyone.
They roam through the Park keeping lawns trimmed and are quite relaxed.
You will often see a kangaroo sprawled beneath the clothes line.
Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park
What is special about Cape Hillsborough National Park?
Cape Hillsborough National Park is rugged and beautiful, with landscapes ranging from Rainforest to groves of Eucalyptus and Mangrove trees.
It adjoins the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and is a pristine environment.
It has walking tracks for all abilities, some of which have great views of the coastline.
At low tide you can walk out along the beach and over to Wedge Island.
Cape Hillsborough Day Use Area
This grassed and treed area has BBQ’s and abuts the beach and Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park.
The Diversity Boardwalk
1.2 km return. This is the first walk in the National Park. Follow the Boardwalk through mangroves, eucalyptus and thick vines of the traditional homes of the Yuibera Aboriginal people. They collected shellfish here and roasted them over an open fire. Look for shell middens along the way and scurrying crabs. The first 300 m are suitable for prams and wheelchairs. Views to Sandy Bay and Andrews Point.
Yuibera Plant Trail
1.2km return circuit. This path follows the coast. Drive a kilometre down the road behind the caravan park (or walk) to the beginning of the track at Hidden Valley. Informative signs tell about what the Yuibera ate and how they made medicine. Pleasant but not as scenic as you might imagine.
Beachcomber Cove Track
2.2 km return. It starts from the Cape Hillsborough Day Use Area. Climb through Hoop Pine Forest to Beachcomber’s cove with it’s sandy pandanus lined beach. If it’s low tide you can walk back to the day use area along the beach. Allow 1.5 hours.
Andrews Point Track
I’ll describe this track in more detail as it can be tricky.
- Twin Beach Lookout
- Turtle View Point
- Andrews Point Lookout
- 2.8 km one way including beach.
- Classified as Difficult
We chose the right hand track to the Turtle Viewing Point, planning to then return to Twin Beach Lookout, but we never made it!
Learn from our mistake and take a map or photograph the info Map.
The walk is challenging as it gains in height, but I didn’t find it difficult and I’m only of average fitness.
Andrews Point Track Cape Hillsborough
Cyclones at Cape Hillsborough
Cyclone Debbie had visited the area several months prior to our arrival. A few trees were down and the bush was a bit untidy as you would expect, but the rain had turned everything a gorgeous green.
Although Cyclones and Bush Fires are devastating, they are both natural forms of regeneration.
Bright green grass trees similar to those we saw later at Cania Gorge National Park.
Turtle Watching Cape Hillsborough
Take binoculars to see turtles as the water is a long way below the view point and only an occasional head is visible to the naked eye. There are however, great views back along the mainland.
Turtles also lay their eggs on Cape Hillsborough beach in Summer.
Onwards is Andrews Point with views to Wedge Island.
After Andrews Point lookout, the track continued on before eventually descending to the beach.
At low tide a causeway leads from here to Wedge Island, a great opportunity to explore.
At low tide you can beach hop back to main beach.
Views from Andrews Point.
Andrews Point Cape Hillsborough
Having descended the track from Point Andrews and arriving at the tiny beach, we realised we wouldn’t be able to walk back along the beach.
Water surrounded the rocky headlands and there were only occasional bits of sand.
In this case there are two options.
- Retrace your steps – a total of 4.3 km
- Keep going and follow the shoreline back to the main beach – a total of 2.8km
We chose to walk through the water and follow the shoreline back.
This is not recommended, but if you decide to do it, here are some tips.
- It involves walking through salt water.
- How much water depends on the tide level.
- The water was above my knees.
- I wore my joggers to protect my feet from the rocky bottom and possible stone fish which are poisonous.
- I happened to be wearing Jeggings.
- Make sure your wallet and phone are well above the water.
- Don’t do this in Stinger Season without a stinger suit on.
Our visit was in June which is winter in Australia, so we weren’t concerned about marine stingers. We foolishly didn’t consider crocodiles until much later.
We arrived back at the beach (where the kangaroos congregate) without incident.
Be Crocodile Wise
What other animals Can I see at Cape Hillsborough
- Lizards, Skinks and Snakes sun themselves on rocks in the National Park.
- Echidnas and Possums may be seen at night.
- Geckos catch insects at night wherever there are lights.
- 20 species of butterflies live in the National Park. The Blue Tiger butterfly can be seen in Winter.
- Whales can be seen off-shore July/August.
- Turtles can be seen in the ocean from the Turtle Lookout on the way to Andrews Point – Take Binoculars as the cliffs are high.
- Turtles lay eggs on the beach in Summer.
Cape Hillsborough Accommodation
Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park
This is the best place to stay to see Kangaroos on the Beach.
It is extremely convenient as you can bounce out of bed when your alarm goes off and simply walk onto the beach. It only takes a minute.
Be on the Beach 20 minutes before Sunrise
Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park (also known as Cape Hillsborough Resort), has camping directly on the foreshore where the famous kangaroos and wallabies congregate.
As well as powered and non-powered camping sites there are two levels of cabins.
Andrews Point walking track starts behind the resort, but we joined it from the beach at the eastern edge of the park – at the end of this row of cabins.
The staff at the resort are very helpful. They will advise on tides and what time you should be at the beach in the morning.
Facilities include: Pool, Shop, Mini-Golf, Camp Kitchen, Laundry, BBQ’s, Reading, TV Lounge and Diner.
Cape Hillsborough Cabins.
Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park Accommodation options
Cape Hillsborough Camping – National Parks
Smalleys Beach Camping.
The National Park Camping area is at Smalleys Creek. You can book on-line, over the counter at a National Park Office or by phone. By all accounts it books out early so book well in advance. Read about it here.
Pay in Advance. Toilets. Drinking Water. Shade. Picnic Tables. Walking. Fishing. Swimming. Crocodile Warning. TV and Mobile Phone Reception. Camping. Caravans. Sites directly on beach. No Generators Allowed.
Cape Hillsborough Map – Smalleys Beach Camping Area to Cape Hillsborough Day Use Area and the Tourist Park
Planning Tips and Information.
Captain Cook named the Cape in 1770 after the Earl of Hillsborough.
Mackay Tide Times can be checked here.
For What to do in Mackay Look at Mackay Tourism.
Visit Old Station Tea House – see Map Below.
The Cape Hillsborough Caravan Park has a Diner open from 10 am to 2 pm every day which is open to the Public.
Map of Cape Hillsborough – Proserpine and Mackay
Other places to see Kangaroos in Queensland
Paradise Country Farm Stay on the Gold Coast is a theme park specialising in Australian Wildlife, Farm Animals and Shows. They have kangaroos and wallabies that are very relaxed and like being fed and patted. Read about Paradise Country Farm Stay here.
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