Mackay showcases its broad appeal

The award-winning Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre (MECC) continues to attract significant events, with 2020 and beyond shaping up to be especially strong.

The MECC’s strategy to seek out conferences of specific relevance to the region’s business and industry has produced great results, particularly across mining, agribusiness and education.

A surprising 67 primary schools are located in the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday Region, so there has been good reason to attract conferences relating to the education sector, with locally-based expertise, potential for delegate attendance and support coming from within the region.

In late May 2020, the MECC will host an estimated 350 attendees at the Association of School Business Administrators (Qld) Conference.  The event will feature several off-site dinners designed to take advantage of the destination’s balmy winter climate, with Mackay offering a range of outdoor venues.

Mackay’s sugar production history spans more than 145 years and the region is home to Australia’s second largest sugar milling company. Accordingly, the conference organisers are planning a special “Mackay sugar” theme for one of the off-site dinners, whilst the expansive lawns of the Convention Precinct will provide another relaxed and conveniently-located outdoor dinner venue. With the conference usually staged in South East Queensland, it is testimony to Mackay’s destination appeal, sophisticated infrastructure and centrality, that this event will be staged in North Queensland for the first time.

In June 2021, it will be the turn of the Queensland Association of State School Principals Conference to enjoy all that Mackay offers as a host destination, with a conservative estimate of 250 delegates expected to attend the conference at theMECC.

It will include an extensive trade show component, highlighting the convention centre’s capacity and flexibility. An off-site dinner is scheduled at The Marquee located at the Clarion Hotel Mackay Marina, which overlooks the sparkling lights of Mackay’s extensive marina and its Pine Islet Lighthouse, one of the only working kerosene lighthouses left in the world.

The two education sector conferences are receiving strong local support, including funding via the city’s Invest Mackay Events and Conferences Funding Program. With both events concluding on a Friday, it is expected that a number of delegates will stay on for the weekend to enjoy the many attractions of the Mackay Region.

Nicky Hansen, Sales & Business Development Coordinator with the MECC acknowledged that the convention centre was delighted to attract these conferences.

“The organisers have indicated that Mackay’s purpose-built convention centre, frequency of flights from Brisbane, central Queensland location and close proximity of quality accommodation to the centre, were all factors contributing to the destination and venue selection,” she said.

The mining sector will also be making its way to Mackay in 2020. In September, the Bowen Basin Symposium is expected to attract 600 national and international mining sector geologists. The Symposium is only held once every 5 years and is returning to the MECC and Mackay for a second time.

The Queensland Mining and Engineering Exhibition (QME), the largest mining event held in Queensland, will also be returning to Mackay in July 2020. The biennial show will feature more than 250 suppliers, product demonstrations, seminars and networking and is expected to attract 4,500 visitors over three days.  One of the satellite events around QME, a gala dinner for approximately 500 guests, will be staged at the MECC.



The MECC has multiple spaces including a 1090-seat auditorium and two plenary halls with capacity to seat 1500 delegates theatre-style or 800 guests banquet style. In addition, there are four meeting rooms, a 100-seat studio space, two foyers, and a selection of break-out rooms. The Convention Centre Precinct also includes the contemporary Artspace regional art gallery, expansive Civic Lawns and the Mackay City Library. All offer additional break-out meeting rooms and alternative function options.


The Mackay Region sits halfway between Brisbane and Cairns in Queensland, offering a relaxed regional city, serviced by 65+ weekly flights. The 1000 seat MECC convention centre is enhanced by a portfolio of more than 1000 rooms within walking distance, along with amazing rooftop venues with panoramic views of the blue-water river and ocean.  The Mackay Region’s growth is fuelled by the boom in the mining industry in the Bowen Basin, resurgence in agribusiness, growth in tourism and an emerging marine sector. It is the largest sugar-producing area in Australia and nearly a third of Queensland’s export goods originate from the Mackay region.