Visiting the Thorsborne Trail safely
Access to the Thorsborne Trail is either by private vessel, launched from Cardwell or Lucinda (Dungeness), or by the commercial ferries which transport people to both ends of the trail. Services may vary according to weather, tidal conditions and time of year.
Commercial ferry transport to the northern or southern end of the Thorsborne Trail
Hinchinbrook Island Cruises
Absolute North Charters
There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks on the Thorsborne Trail.
The Thorsborne Trail is closed seasonally from the start of January to the end of February due to the high risk of unsafe conditions over this period. Seasonal conditions during these months bring extreme heat and regular heavy rainfall – hikers are often unable to cross creeks and are at the highest risk of heat-related injuries. Extreme weather events are also more likely during these months.
Outside of the seasonal closure period, hiking the Thorsborne Trail is considerably challenging during the summer months between October and March. Conditions are extremely hot and humid at this time of year which increases the risk of heat related injuries. Water sources often dry up in the lead up to the wet season.
When the wet season starts, high rainfall results in rapidly rising creeks making crossing dangerous. Extreme weather events are also more likely during the wet season. QPWS strongly recommends careful consideration of choosing to undertake the Thorsborne Trail hike during the during the summer months.
Find more information about safety during extreme weather.
It is imperative that hiking details are left with a responsible contact person. This will assist in the event of an emergency situation or when hikers are overdue. The contact person must know:
- how hikers are accessing the island e.g. private vessel or commercial vessel
- the planned route
- when hikers are due to return
- the agreed time period after which the contact person will need to contact emergency services.
- call Triple Zero (000) for all emergencies or if hikers do not return within agreed time period.
The Thorsborne trail is an extremely popular hiking experience with limited numbers allowed on the trail. If you are no longer planning to hike the trail, please cancel your booking to give others the opportunity. Information on cancellations also assists in emergencies such as cyclones and wildfires. To cancel or modify your booking log into your account.
- The fawn-footed melomys Melomys cervinipes and giant white-tailed rat Uromys caudimaculatus occur across the island. To avoid damage to packs and food supplies:
- Remove all food from packs at night.
- Keep cooking utensils and food covered and off the ground.
- Use pack racks provided - do not hang packs in trees.
- Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the waters surrounding Hinchinbrook Island at any time, bur occur more frequently in the warmer months. Do not swim in tidal waters. See marine stingers for more information.
- Avoid bites from sandflies and mosquitoes by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Creek beds and rock surfaces can be slippery. Care is required when traversing these surfaces.
- Heavy rain can fall at any time of the year causing creek levels to rise and fall rapidly. Conditions may improve after a short wait. Crossing creeks requires extreme care, particularly at Zoe and Diamantina creeks.
- Mulligan Falls and its surrounds are a restricted access area . Death and serious injuries have occurred when people have entered this area. Rock pavements, including those well back from the falls, are extremely slippery and dangerous.
- Water is available in several creeks along the trail but becomes scarce during the dry season. Please carry sufficient water during this time. If creeks are dry or salty at recommended watering points, fresh water can often be obtained upstream. Treat all water before using.
- Tides can range up to four metres. Be aware of tide levels when crossing creeks, particularly Mulligan Creek. Refer to the Lucinda tide timetable.
- In an emergency, remain on the trail and call Triple Zero (000) if mobile reception is available. Otherwise, send help to the nearest bay or coastal location to alert a passing or anchored vessel. Alternatively, send help to either end of the trail and alert the commercial vessel operators when they arrive.
- Emergency calls via marine radio, on VHF channel 16, should be made to the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association at Ingham for the southern end of the island (call sign VMR407), at Cardwell for the northern end of the island (call sign VMR423), or Townsville if the local stations are not responding (call sign VMR408).
Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and in freshwater lagoons, rivers, and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal. Remember to be crocwise in croc country.
- For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage islands are among the most pest-free islands in the world. They need your help to stay this way. Please Be pest-free! before your visit.
Essentials to bring
Hikers need to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. Pack essential equipment and bushwalking gear including:
- adequate water-carrying containers, as each person will use around four litres of water a day
- waterproof pack liner or bags
- warm and waterproof clothing
- sturdy, reliable footwear
- hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
- basic first-aid kit including space blanket
- Lucinda tide timetable
- gas or liquid fuel stove with spare fuel
- cooking utensils and equipment
- torch or headlamp
- high quality, lightweight and waterproof tent
- insect repellent and clothing to avoid insect bites
- biodegradable toilet paper and hand trowel
- strong rubbish bag
- personal locator beacon (PLB) or emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPRIB)
- lightweight sleeping bag
- nourishing food that is compact and lightweight including nuts, dried fruit, pasta, rice, lentils, dehydrated foods, selected fresh vegetables, muesli, hard cheese, crackers, chocolate, pita bread and herbs and spices.
For safety, allow 1–2 days' extra food.
When to visit
The Thorsborne Trail is closed from the start of January to the end of February due to unsafe conditions relating to extreme heat and rainfall – e.g., unsafe creek crossings and heat-related injuries.The trail can also be closed during periods of severe weather (wet and dry) and planned burns. Changes and updates regarding all aspects of the trail are available as park alerts on this site and the booking website. Please check park alerts in the weeks and days leading up to your hike.
Domestic animals are prohibited on Hinchinbrook Island.
Climate and weather
Daytime temperatures and humidity can be high at any time of the year and nights can be very cool. Please carry clothing that is suitable for all temperature extremes.
Heavy rain can fall at any time of the year, causing creek levels to rise and fall rapidly. Conditions may improve after a short wait. Crossing creeks requires extreme care, particularly at Zoe and Diamantina creeks.
April to September are the best months for hiking. This period avoids the times of year that are very wet or very dry. Hiking the Thorsborne Trail during the summer months between October to March is considerably challenging with extremely hot and humid conditions and heavy rainfall. The Thorsborne Trail is closed from the start of January to the end of February for safety reasons.
For more information, see the tourism information links.
Fuel and supplies
Fuel and basic supplies are available on the mainland at Cardwell and Lucinda. For more information, see the tourism information links.