Mackay Whitsunday

The Mackay Whitsunday region covers an area of 9000 square kilometres and supports a diverse range of ecosystems including soft coral communities and the nationally recognised Goorganga Wetlands. The tropical climate has a distinct wet season, with 50 to 60 per cent of the average annual rainfall occurring between January and March.

The Mackay Whitsunday region has a number of small, steep catchments. The landscape is largely rural, has occasional cyclones and is dominated by summer monsoonal rains delivering sediments, nutrients and pesticides to the inshore and sometimes offshore portions of the Reef in pulsed flows which can be affected by reservoirs and dams. Grazing is the largest single land use, followed by sugarcane and natural areas. Pesticides losses from cane remain one of the highest across the Reef’s catchments.

Urban centres such as Mackay and Proserpine are located on the coastal strip. Habitats include wetlands, fringing and offshore reefs, intertidal, subtidal and deep water seagrass and mangroves. The continental islands (Whitsunday group) are important for tourism and the region also supports important commercial and recreational fisheries.

The Regional Natural Resource Management body, Reef Catchments, is working with the region’s agricultural industries to improve land management practices, lower pollutant loads and remove associated threats to the Reef.

The catchment profiles provide information about each area including size and rainfall, land use, targets, priorities for water quality improvement and sources of pollutants.