HINCHINBROOK ISLAND
Hinchinbrook Island is one of the world's largest island National Parks, and the largest island on the Great Barrier Reef. Hinchinbrook is separated from the mainland by a deep, narrow mangrove lined channel, renowned locally as an excellent fishing location. This separation has helped to keep the island basically unspoilt and uninhabited.
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Rugged and untouched Hinchinbrook Island, in Far North Queensland. Click for larger photograph. Hinchinbrook island was named in 1770 by Captain Cook after the family seat of his patron, George Montague Dunk. (Yes, 'Hinchinbrook' was one of the titles held by the Montague family.) The island is considered to be the jewel of the region, and to say it is 'worth visiting' would be a gross understatement. Hinchinbrook is a mecca for hikers and wilderness lovers who enjoy the tranquility of virgin rainforest and pristine beaches.

The island is uninhabited except for the environmentally friendly Hinchinbrook Island Resort, located at Cape Richards. This small award-winning resort, with a capacity of only around 45 people, offers magnificent isolation in large crafted timber treehouses, which can be accessed by a winding timber trail. It makes a great base from which to experience the numerous activities the island offers; swimming, day cruises, bushwalking, fishing, snorkelling or just chilling out and letting every day problems disappear.

Visitors to Hinchinbrook can choose from hiking through the majestic and unspoilt rainforest, relaxing on one of the secluded golden sand beaches or merely capturing the island's splendour from the comfort of a vessel whilst cruising through the magnificent Hinchinbrook Channel. The island abounds in flora and fauna, mangrove canals, palm-fringed long deserted beaches and rough granite cliffs. Indeed, Hinchinbrook Island is the perfect place to restore mind, body and spirit.

ATTRACTIONS AND THINGS TO DO - HINCHINBROOK ISLAND


FISHING
Fishing is probably one of the most popular activities in the island. The island thrives with flora, fauna, spectacular palm-fringed beaches and massive mangrove lined waterways. Along with the vast flats and channel systems that surround the island, this makes an ideal home to many prime tropical sportfish. Thanks to the magnificent mangrove environment, relative remoteness of the area (compared to places such as Cairns and Port Douglas) and the lack of fishing pressure, there are few places in the world where fishing is so enjoyable. Target species include top sportfish, including barramundi, mangrove jacks, queenfish, salmon, trevally, fingermark, cod, and grunter... all with the grandiose background of Hinchinbrook Island.


BUSHWALKING
Hinchinbrook is a bushwalker's paradise, with abundant wildlife and diverse flora, long sandy beaches, estuarine creeks, lagoons and jagged rocky mountains that stretch to up to 1000 metres into the clouds. Stands of lush rainforest and massive eucalypt trees tumble down to meet with the mangrove-fringed channels in the west while far reaching bays and rocky cliffs dominate the east.

The 32 kilometre long Thorsborne Trail, along Hinchinbrook's east coast, is one of Australia's most spectacular coastal walks and well known all over the world. Named after Cardwell conservationists, Arthur and Margaret Thorsborne, the trail is best suited to experienced walkers as it is not a graded or hardened walking track. It is suggested you allow around four days to complete the track, otherwise you won't have enough time to swim or enjoy the area. If you only had three days, you could spend one day walking from Ramsay Bay to Little Ramsay Bay, another one from Ramsay Bay to Zoe Bay and a third day to walk from Zoe Bay to Mulligan Bay.

The Thorsborne Trail can be walked from south to north, starting at George Point or from north to south starting then at Ramsey Bay. You only will have to follow the yellow trail markers if you are going south or the orange ones if heading north. Don't forget to pay attention to the rock cairns that are used in the areas where trail markers are absent.

For your safety, it is recommended that you complete the log book along the way, the provide very useful information in case a search needs to be carried out. Take a topographic map and a compass. Be aware of stinging jellyfish during the warmer months as well as of estuarine crocs that live in the surrounding channel and estuarine waters. Use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoide insect bites as much as possible.

To help minimise impact and to preserve the wilderness scenery, permits are issued for a maximun of 40 people on the trail at any given time. Limits also apply to some campsites and you need to specify your camping site each night when booking. The largest group size is six people. Don't try to sneak in without a permit, boat operators are very diligent and check all permits.

However, if you don't want to embark on such a strenuos walk, but still want to experience and appreciate the natural wonders of Hinchinbrook Island, we can suggest other walking tracks. A trail along the border of one of Missionary Bay's southern creeks offers a captivating path through the thick labrynth of air-breathing mangrove roots. From the boardwalk, take a track that leads 200 metres over a lightly vegetated sandy area above high tide and over sand dunes to Hinchinbrook's outstanding eastern shores of bold stony peninsulas and sweeping beaches.

The Macushla to Cape Richards walk is situated on the northern end of the island. Allow around two hours for the walk, plus time to spend at the beaches on the east coast, where the views on the Cape are spectacular. Back on the track, the walk leaving the beach and the mangroves will take you through a fantastic mix of open eucalypt forest and rainforest up to North Shepherd Bay. The next two kilometres are an absolutely breathtaking beach walk, where swimming is safe most of the year. The place is a beachcomber's heaven, abundant in wildlife, from sea eagles to crabs. The walk from Shepherd Bay to Cape North progresses through fantastic palm forest and rainforest. These tracks provide a good variety of most of the forest types on Hinchinbrook's lowlands.

But if what you really want is a short, easy loop walk, take the circuit track that leaves from Scraggy Point camping area that borders a small creek through diverse vein forest.

Important: Bushwalkers need to contact the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service to get detailed information on the island. Tel (07) 4066 8601 and the permits.

Mount Bowen rises to 1,142 metres high in the centre of the island. It was once a volcano, like many of the other peaks of the island. There is no walking track to the summit of Mount Bowen, but many walkers make their own way up, and views from its peak are absolutely unforgettable.

Cape Richard Lookout, at the northernmost point of Hinchinbrook, offers spectacular views of close Gould Island to the west, Dunk and Bedarra Islands to the north, beautiful Orchid Beach to the east and Missionary Bay to the south. The walk is well worth it - the lookout is the best vantage point for sunsets and dolphins.

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ACCOMMODATION - HINCHINBROOK ISLAND

Accommodation in Hinchinbrook Island is limited to a resort and a few camping sites. Because Hinchinbrook Island is a National Park, permits for camping are required. A limit number applies to all the camping sites, so we recommend that you ask for your permit well in advanced. www.qld.gov.au/camping

HOTELS AND RESORTS

HINCHINBROOK ISLAND WILDERNESS LODGE
Cape Richards, Hinchinbrook Island
PO Box 3, Cardwell
Phone (07) 4066 8270 / Fax (07) 4066 8271
Guests are limited to 50 at any time and the atmosphere is very personal and welcoming. Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge is entirely self-sufficient, with its own bore and dam, waste water treatment station and energy conservation policies.


CARAVAN PARKS AND CAMPGROUNDS
MACUSHLA, overlooking Missionary Bay, Mount Bowen and Goold Island, is a great camping ground, perfect for keen fishermen and bushwalking enthusiasts. Superb walking tracks lead to pristine beaches and spectacular rainforest.

GETTING TO HINCHINBROOK ISLAND

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Hinchinbrook Ferries offer daily transfers to Hinchinbrook Island from Cardwell.Hinchinbrook Ferries offers daily transfers to Hinchinbrook Island from Cardwell (except Christmas Day). Camper transfers are available to various parts of the island, and it is also possible to arrange an unscheduled pickup. For more deatils, see the Hinchinbrook Ferries listing near the top of the page, or visit their website.

Hinchinbrook Wilderness Safaris offer transfers from Lucinda to Hinchinbrook Island as well as day tours.Hinchinbrook Wilderness Safaris also offers transfers to Hinchinbrook Island, as well as day trips. Their ferries and tours depart from Lucinda. Check with the ferry company their timetable as it is subject to the daily tides.
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One of most popular attractions in Cairns is the Great Barrier Reef.

Watch out for Cassowaries, or it will be bad news for both of you. Click for larger photograph.


EMERGENCY SERVICES

In case of emergency only, dial 000. In all other cases, phone the local service for Cardwell:

Ambulance (07) 4066 8659 or 131233
Medical clinic (07) 4066 8533 Police (07) 4066 8620