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Visiting Thorsborne Trail safely
You can get to the island in a private vessel, or on commercial ferries which transport people to both ends of the trail. Book in advance to ensure pick up and drop off times. Be ready to show your permit before boarding.
The trail is very popular and is often booked out. You may need to book your camping permit several months in advance.
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.
This is a remote place. Think carefully about the safety of your entire group.
Use the trail guide regularly and follow the trail markers. Walk in small groups and in single file. Don’t rush.
Take care when rock hopping, crossing creeks and around waterfalls.
Three to four metre tides are common. Use the tide timetable to plan your walk.
Check depths before crossing and, if the water is too deep, wait for the tide to drop.
Heavy rain can swell creeks at any time. Always wait for the water to drop before crossing.
Water can be scarce during the drier months. If the recommended source is dry or salty, try further upstream. Fill up at every opportunity and remember to drink regularly.
Mulligan Falls and its surrounds are a restricted access area. The rock pavements are extremely slippery and dangerous. Deaths and serious injuries have occurred here. Stay out of the restricted access area.
If an accident occurs, stay on the trail with the injured person. If your mobile doesn’t work, send someone to the nearest bay to get help. If help isn’t available, alert the water taxi when it arrives.
Hinchinbrook Island is croc country. Estuarine crocodiles live in the creeks, rivers, lagoons and along the coast. Be crocwise and look out for crocodiles.
Dangerous stinging jellyfish, or ‘stingers’, may be present at any time. Do not swim in tidal waters.
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 water taxi
- 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.
If no longer hiking the trail, ensure to cancel bookings by contacting us. Information on cancellations assists in emergencies such as cyclones and wildfires.
- For a small donation, personal locator beacons (PLBs) are available for hire from the Rainforest and Reef Information Centre.
- 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.
- 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 repellant 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 ferry 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 VMR414), 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.
Leave your walking plans with a responsible person. Make sure they know what to do if you fail to contact them by the agreed time.
This is a challenging trail and should only be undertaken by experienced bushwalkers.
The weather can be hot and wet or hot and dry. The cooler months are the best times to walk.
Be prepared for varying conditions. Pack waterproof clothing, long-sleeved shirt and pants, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellant. Wear sturdy hiking boots and take a torch.
While toilets are provided at most camp sites, take a trowel and bio-degradable paper for other locations.
A first aid kit, including a safety blanket, is important.
Fires are not allowed on Hinchinbrook Island, including the beaches, so take a fuel stove for cooking.
Food should be compact and lightweight, with bulky packaging removed. Allow two days’ extra food and bring strong, sealable bags for rubbish.
Sleeping bags and tents should be lightweight and compact. Check that your tent is waterproof. Use a good quality waterproof pack and further protect your clothes and sleeping gear in waterproof bags.
Water is usually available along the trail, but you will still need to collect and carry about four litres for each day.
Carry the Thorsborne Trail trail guide and a Lucinda tide timetable. Camping is only allowed at designated sites so plan to reach these with enough daylight to set up camp.
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.
The Thorsborne Trail is open 24 hours a day but it can 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. QPWS will ensure all booked hikers are notified of any closures. Please ensure relevant contact details are supplied when booking.
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.
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.
- There are currently no park alerts for this park.