Mackay’s Kinchant Waters
  |  First Published: February 2013

Kinchant Waters is a large camping area sprawling across the southeastern shore of Kinchant Dam, approximately 40km west of Mackay. Attractions include a very large camping area with a free and easy atmosphere right next to the water, plus a licensed bar and grille with quality meals.

Getting There

When travelling north from Sarina take the turn off to Eton, then follow signs to North Eton then signs to Kinchant Dam on the southern outskirts of town.

If coming south through Mackay, the Peak Downs highway turn off is located on the southern outskirts of the City. After a few kilometres west, take the road to Eungella on the right and a 20 minutes drive will see the vehicle entering the town of Marian where a turn off to Kinchant Dam and Eton is noted towards the western end of the town. Once in North Eton the Kinchant Dam turn off should be visible.

Local Infrastructure

The kiosk associated with the restaurant offers the likes of bread, milk, ice, cold drinks and other small goods for campers. A Stocked Impoundment Permit is also available to fish the dam.

The towns of Marian and Mirani are within a 15 minute drive of Kinchant Dam and are ideal for things like fuel, grocery items and other essential items. Tackle purchases can be made at Mackay where there’s a Tackle World store in Shakespeare Street.

Mackay offers all that you would expect from a city; food, hardware, medical and other professional centres are easily found within the city.

Plenty of Room

Kinchant Waters has a massive camping area, extending from the water side to higher levels on the neighbouring slopes. The upper strata seems to be taken up with permanent caravans and cabins the lower areas are handy for the traveller, whether merely setting up a tent, a camper trailer or maybe a caravan with boat on top.

There are ample powered sites available and this would have to be the easiest place to set up camp right on the banks of an inland impoundment. The boat can be left in the water right at the camp, ready for a crack at the fish at short notice; early starts could not be easier.

From Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon the population of campers, visitors and people enjoying time around or on the dam’s water (skiing and tow sports are par for the course during the warmer hours of the day) will skyrocket in numbers only to drop to minimal inhabitation after Sunday afternoon. Kinchant Dam is a very popular aquatic playground for many Mackay residents so expect to share the water, facilities and ambience if staying through a weekend.

The meals at the restaurant are popular and well presented, and if a live show is scheduled the large dining area will be well patronised. There are laundry facilities at the camp grounds, decent showers and amenities and camp fires plus pets are permitted at camp sites as well.

Along with ample campsites there are bunk cabins for rent. The cabins are set on the hill side above the main camping grounds and are virtually rooms with bunks and power points. You have to take your own bedding, towels, pillows and the like. Kitchen facilities are shared, along with a refrigerator for use of those at the bunk cabins. My advice would be to take a portable fridge or freezer for convenience.

The wildlife

It won’t take long to work out that this venue is home to some rather unique wildlife. It’s not every morning that you can move out of the tent to confront a large peacock or scrub turkey sitting by the table waiting for a feed. Friendly wallabies are also there and the dam’s edges, of course, are home to a lot of water fowl.


Kinchant Dam was established in 1977 and has an area of 920ha when full. With an average depth of 6.8m it’s not a large dam by some Queensland standards but there’s consolation in the fact that it holds some of the largest barramundi in our impoundments. Fish of around 110cm don’t rate that highly here at all – only a 120-130cm barra is true bragging material.

In essence, the dam is a tree-less basin with formed rock walls along both north and eastern boundaries. It has immense weed beds which may, or may not, be covered depending on whether water is being pumped into the dam from the Pioneer River or pumped out for irrigation.

The resident sooty grunter, sleepy cod, forktail catties and barra all live in harmony around these weed beds which are a great place to mooch along just on the outer edge and cast ahead for a barra.

Trolling is also a very successful way of taking a big barra in this dam. My favourite method is the good old fly. Soft plastics are very popular, as are Jackalls and hard bodied lures. Ensure your hooks are up to the task of holding a big fish hell bent on heading as deep into the weed as possible.

Overall Kinchant barra are like barra everywhere: best at change of light or at night but certainly a chance whenever the angler’s offering is in the water.

Contact details for Kinchant Waters is only by telephone on (07) 4954 1453, and one of the friendly staff will assist with camping arrangements.

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