Hinchinbrook Island Hike

Hinchinbrook Island, off Queensland's coast near Dunk Island, between Townsville and Cairns, is a national park within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. The island covers nearly 40,000 hectares with mountain peaks topping 1,000 metres, and is covered by dense vegitation including patches of lush rainforest and extensive eucalypt forests as well as heath on the mountains, and mangroves on some of the shores. The thirty-two kilometre Thorsborne Trail along the island's east coast provides a challenging four day / three night walk for enthusiastic hikers.

View from Nina's Peak

We arrived by ferry from the Port Hinchinbrook Resort, without seeing any dugong's or green turtles, or any crocodiles in the everglades. The hike begins after crossing a boardwalk to Ramsay Bay. We walked along the beach before turning inland along a ridge and down to Blacksand Beach, where we walked along this beach and down into a tall open forest, climbing steadily to a saddle below Nina's Peak. We left our packs beside the track while we made the strenuous climb to the peak for magnificent panoramic views of the island, including Mount Bowen and several bays.

Returning for our packs, we followed a watercourse through a mangrove forest before descending to Nina Bay for another walk along the beach, including rock-hopping over one section, up a small cliff, and across the headland to Boulder Bay. More rock-hopping before following orange markers on the trail over a low ridge to our first camp in Little Ramsay Bay. A hike of 6.5 kilometres according to the directions, but the track is narrow, rough, and solid walking. The campsite is near the sea, which enabled us to have a quick, refreshing swim in the shallows (keeping in mind the warning about the possibility of crocodiles being in the area), before a bath in the lagoon at the back of the beach. A pleasant surprise was the warm temperature of the water, apparently created by salt water being trapped under a layer of fresh water on the surface.

Mulligan's Falls swimming hole

An early start on day two, across a tidal creek, along several beaches, fringed by Casurina Trees, rock-hopping, then along a small gully to the top of a ridge. Down and across Banksia Creek, and up on to a saddle between Banksia and Zoe Bays, then down through a rainforest, and inland through a palm and paperbark swamp. The rainforests, palm forests, wild flowers and views from the higher points along the way, provided an opportunity for appreciation of the natural beauty of the island, but the hook-studded lawyer vines are a menace. Lunch was enjoyed beside a powder blue pool in Palm Creek where we were cooled and relaxed by a refreshing swim amid the fish and tortoises. After a rugged 10.5 kilometres of hiking, our arrival at Zoe Bay campsite was a welcome relief. A short hike inland took us to the natural waterhole at the base of Zoe Waterfall for a refreshing swim. All food has to be stored in the camp's metal boxes for protection against the protected native white tailed rats, which can be heard scuttling around in the bush as soon as it becomes dark. Armies of flying, biting, stinging nasties encouraged us to bed down early.

Up early again to start day three with a climb up the rock wall beside Zoe Falls, with our fifteen kilogram packs on our backs (assisted by a rope hanging down the cliff) for a spectacular view of Zoe Bay from the top. On through more forest, passing banksia, heath and wildflowers. Up a spur to a granite rock pavement which marks the saddle at 260 metres, the highest point on the trail, for more magnificent views. Along the creeks we crossed are masses of coral ferns, and we also saw lots of tree ferns and blackboy spear plants. After the days hiking of 7.5 kilometres, we descended a steep hillside to Mulligan's Falls, where we enjoyed several refreshing swims in the boulder-studded waterhole, shared with jungle perch and tortoises.

View from above Zoe Falls

On our last day the weather turned overcast, and we could no longer see the tops of the mountains. The walk down through more rainforest, across several creeks, included Moth Creek, which has a bed of small boulders washed down the mountains. The last five kilometres of the hike (making 7.5 kilometres for the day) is easy, walking along the wide sandy beach of Mulligan Bay to George Point.

A strenuous, sometimes difficult 32 kilometre, four day hike, providing magnificent and beautiful scenery. Completing the hike gave us a great sense of satisfaction. Hinchinbrook deserves its National Park / World Heritage area classification.

For further information and permits, contact the Queensland Parks and Wildlife service, P.O. Box 74, Cardwell, 4849 Australia. Alternatively, phone (07) 4066 8601.

Another site with information about Hinchinbrook Island can be found here.

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Last updated 24 May 2006.