Drinking in Mackay and savoury mince.

I’ve never been to Mackay before. Home of Cathy Freeman, Skippy Heugill and Wendell Sailor (Sarina) amongst others and the sugar capital of Australia. It is also the home of two breweries – Red Dog Brewery and Goanna Brewing. Unfortunately neither breweries’ opening hours coincided with my availability so I can’t say too much about them. Right at the death of my Mackay trip I was able to sample a very striking XPA from Goanna Brewing, which was on tap at Mackay Airport. A very solid beer that tastes and looks nothing like an XPA, it was a good antidote to the Mackay heat.

At 5.9% – it can

Whilst I wasn’t able to get to a Mackay brewery, I managed a visit to a couple of watering holes. I also got to experience what apparently is a local specialty (delicacy is stretching it).

The Eimeo Pub

The pub highlight of Mackay (of those I visited) is easily the Eimeo Pacific Hotel. This iconic pub reminds me of the Pacific Hotel, Yamba. Perched high on a point, the Eimeo offers great views of St Bees Island and other islands in the Cumberland Islands group. The pub and service is so laid back it is almost comatose, but the loud doof doof music keeps sleep away. Like all Mackay pubs it isn’t about the beer. $6.50 a schooner is a good deal. Even with the grunting of some rapper – the Eimeo is a great place to get comfortably numb on a sunny afternoon.

Pubs in Mackay CBD are far more functional. Pokies, TABs and plenty of screens. The Hotel Mackay is a good looking Art Deco joint from the outside. The Austral is regarded as the best steakhouse in Cairns and the crowd on a Tuesday night underlined its popularity. The beer selection is consistent and lagery. XXXX bitter doesn’t seem to be a tap beer anymore. The ubiquitous XXXX Gold bears the postcode of Mackay on its tap head in most pubs and XXXX Dry is occasionally on. Moss on Wood does a cheap $5 schooner happy hour.

The surprise of the trip was the appearance of Savoury Mince on more than one menu. The last time I had savoury mince was for breakfast at the Peter Allen Motel at Tenterfield in the noughties. I can’t resist it and the Savoury mince at the Dispensary on Wood Street brought back memories of waking up in Hotel/Motels on the New England and Pacific Highways in the 70s and 80s. The Dispensary nailed it.

I couldn’t believe it when 5 hours later I was lunching at the Coffee Club and there was Savory (sic) Mince on the menu. The Coffee Club is two doors down from the Dispensary and I asked my lunch companion whether the two joints shared the same kitchen. She laughed and said “No. It’s a Mackay thing. It’s on the Surf Club menu and plenty of other places”. I didn’t get to try the Coffee Club version and cherry tomato seems like an odd addition – but I reckon beer drinkers thought that Yuzu would never been seen in a beer.

The lack of diced carrot did jar me a touch, but I’m not sure if there is a classic recipe. I’ve omitted from posting a photo of my Savoury Mince breakfast. It is the least Instagrammable dish and is impossible to photograph flatteringly.

So Mackay – the sugar capital of Australia and maybe the Savoury Mince capital of the world.

Red Dog Brewery: 2 Chain Street, Mackay QLD

Goanna Brewing: 11/25 Transport Avenue, Paget QLD

The Eimeo Pacific Hotel: 1 Mango Avenue, Eimeo QLD