Get to know one of the wildest places in the world – as well as your own wild side – by taking the ferry or a private boat from Cardwell, Queensland to Hinchinbrook Island. It’s the largest island on the Great Barrier Reef and the largest island national park in Australia. Impressive huh? The best way to see this beautiful island is the Thorsborne Trail, a 32km or 4 – 5 day hike, which offers the backpacking adventure of a lifetime.
This is not a place to bring the kids: the Thorsborne Trail is notoriously rugged, with no graded or hardened walking track. Many areas on the trail are difficult for even seasoned hikers to traverse. Don’t expect any plumbing or barbecue grills along the trail either. There are absolutely no frills and visitors are expected to practice no-trace camping. So if your idea of camping requires anything more than what you can carry on your back, the Thorsborne Trail is not for you.
However, if you feel turned off by the high-rise hotels and crowds of tourists or an overload of amenities at other natural attractions, this is exactly the trail for you. There are no hotels on Hinchinbrook Island. The only lodging venue – Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge – closed in 2010 due to financial difficulties. It was then hit just months later by a cyclone. All that remains of the lodge is the barest of infrastructure.
[tweet_dis]Hinchinbrook Island is everything you would imagine an island paradise to be[/tweet_dis]. Soaring mountain peaks, large swathes of lush rainforest pulsing with the deepest of greens, pristine white beaches, and clear mountain streams: a true fantasyland. It’s hard to convince yourself you’re not dreaming.
Because of the wild and desolate nature of this trail, it’s as dangerous as it is beautiful. You must be prepared, preferably over-prepared, for any situation. Crocodile sightings are not rare. Here are some tips you can follow to avoid being mauled by a croc:
- Camp at least 2m above the high water mark and 50m from water’s edge
- Never leave food scraps, fish frames or bait at your campsite
- Never prepare food or wash dishes near water’s edge or adjacent sloping banks
- Do not feed the crocodiles!
- Be more aware of crocodiles at night and also during their breeding season September to April
Of course, it’s the dangers without the powerful jaws with razor-sharp teeth that are more likely to get you. Bring an extra 2 or 3 days’ worth of rations in case you get lost or stranded. Also bring a well-stocked first-aid kit. Leave a detailed itinerary, including your planned route and when you expect to return, with a responsible contact. They’ll be able to call emergency services and give them an idea of where to look if you don’t make if off the island as expected.
If you’re put off by risks, that’s fine, you may want to hit the public beach or take a guided tour somewhere else instead. There’s no shame in that. But if you find this remote trail and all its threats exciting, congratulations, you belong on the Thorsborne Trail. Happy camping!