Matsuura Sister City Program

The Mackay-Matsuura sister city relationship was formed in 1989. This is a very active relationship with annual exchanges between students, and biennial citizen visits. More than 350 students from Matsuura have visited Mackay since the relationship commenced.

The relationship is a cultural one but was mainly founded on the common interest in coal - with ships coming from Matsuura to our region in the early days of the relationship.

Matsuura is a coastal city located on Japan's second largest island Kyushu in the Nagasaki Prefecture and has a population of around 25,500. The main industries in Matsuura are electricity production and fishing and coal from the Bowen Basin.  Coal is exported to Matsuura, and processed at the local power plant.

Over the years a warm and ever-growing bond has been developed between citizens of our regions.

Matsuura facts and figures

  • Population: Approximately 25,500.
  • Location: In the Nagasaki prefecture on the Japanese island of Kyushu.
  • Area: 130.37 km2
  • Industries: Matsuura has one of Japan's largest coal-fired power stations, an international trade port, a successful agriculture industry and a huge local fish market.
  • Religion: Buddhism and Shinto
  • City's flower: Rhododendron

The City of Matsuura amalgamated with the neighbouring towns of Fukushima and Takashima on 1 January 2006.

Youth Ambassador Program

One of the cultural exchange programs of the sister city relationship is annual visits between Mackay and Matsuura school students.  The purpose of the visit is to strengthen our cities' ties and to expose Mackay and Matsuura students to each other's cultures.

Some of the benefits to participants in the program are:

  • Exposure to a unique cultural experience
  • Opportunity to learn new life skills and make new friends

Mackay Regional Council’s Youth Ambassador Scholarship program provides Mackay school students with $1000 to offset the cost of travel to Matsuura.  Students in years 10, 11 and 12 can apply for a $1,000 scholarship to go towards travel costs for a two-week cultural trip to Japan with up to 7 days spent in home-stays in Matsuura.  Students should be in years 10, 11 or 12 at the time of travel in order to be eligible.

To apply students are required to complete an Application Form which includes: - an endorsement from their school - a 500 word essay of their interest in Japan - how students consider they will be ambassadors for the Mackay – Matsuura Sister City Program on their return from the exchange visit to Japan. Shortlisted students will be required to attend an interview in order to progress their application.  Successful Youth Ambassador Scholarship applicants are required to attend fortnightly or monthly cultural information sessions with the other exchange group members and chaperones in the lead up to the trip.  Closer to the departure date, weekly meetings maybe held. The meetings will include information on cultural practices, what to expect during home stays, etiquette in Japan etc.  Youth Ambassadors going on the Mackay Matsuura exchange tour will be required to home host students from Matsuura who visit Mackay in July/August. Youth Ambassadors are required to prepare a report/presentation for Mackay Regional Council on their return, detailing their experiences.

To apply students must:

  • Have an interest in Japan and its culture
  • Have an exemplary behaviour record
  • Be in years 10,11 or 12 in 2020
  • Provide latest school report with application
  • Complete application by midnight February 23 2020

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview to progress their application. Successful applicant will be required to attend fortnightly or monthly cultural information sessions in the lead up to the trip.

Mackay Regional Council will appoint two chaperones to accompany a maximum of 10 students in years 10, 11 and 12 during the September school holidays on the Youth Ambassador Program from Mackay to Matsuura. Those appointed should be fluent in speaking, reading, writing and interpreting the Japanese language. People who are interested in being chaperones are required to complete the Chaperone Expression of Interest Application Form.

To apply chaperones must:

  • Be 20 years or over
  • Australian Passport
  • Blue card or registered with Queensland College of Teacher
  • First Aid Certificate
  • Fluent Japanese language skills
  • Complete application by midnight February 23 2020

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview to progress their application. Successful chaperones will be invited to participate in the student interview process and be required to attend fortnightly or monthly cultural information sessions in the lead up to the trip.

Matsuura student visits

Every year Matsuura City sends a group of students accompanied by two or three chaperones to Mackay for approximately seven days. Mackay Regional Council arranges home-hosts and activities for the students whilst they are here.

Activities usually consist of time at local schools, visits to locals beaches and places of interest, a bush dance and art/craft workshops. Free time is allowed for the students to experience Australian family life with the host families.

The purpose of the visit is to strengthen our cities' ties and expose Mackay families and Japanese students with each other's cultures.

The students are aged between 13 and 17 years and council seeks host families each year. Family members over the age of 18 years must be holders of a Blue Card.

For more information on the opportunity to home host please contact Shona Norris on 49619434 or email

Citizen visits

Every two years a group of citizens from Matsuura visits Mackay for around three to four days. The citizens visit local attractions and have the opportunity of meeting up with old friends and make new acquaintances in the community.

On the alternating years, a group of residents from the Mackay region visits Matsuura. The citizens usually spend around three to four days in Matsuura and have an option to extend their visit in Japan.

Sister Cities Mackay

The aim of this committee is to organise the Youth Ambassador Program for Mackay Students, along with the student visits from Matsuura.

The committee also organises many other events throughout the year, including an Australia Day Skype, the Drawing Exchange Program, a Speech Contest and Children’s Day.

Membership of the group is open to all residents in the region.  More information can be gained by contacting the Secretary at

The committee has also set up a Sister Cities Mackay Facebook page, to aid communication between Mackay and Matsuura - so that people can share photos and keep in touch.