Visiting Hinchinbrook Island safely
Hinchinbrook Island is 8km off the Queensland coast at Cardwell and extends south to the town of Lucinda (near Ingham). Cardwell is about 171km north of Townsville and 203km south of Cairns. Lucinda is about 140km north of Townsville and 244km south of Cairns.
Access to Hinchinbrook Island is by either private vessel, launched from Cardwell or Lucinda (Dungeness), or by the commercial vessel operators which transport people to both ends of the Thorsborne Trail. Services may vary according to weather, tidal conditions and time of year.
Commercial vessel transport to the northern end of the Thorsborne Trail
Absolute North Charters
Hinchinbrook Island Cruises
Commercial vessel transport to the southern end of the Thorsborne Trail
Hinchinbrook Island Cruises
Absolute North Charters
The Aboriginal cultural site Muhr Amalee, on the west side of Missionary Bay, is a restricted access area .
The fragile ecosystems of the mountain areas are extremely rugged and dangerous and access to these areas requires permission. See the Thorsborne Trail for more information.
To protect nesting beach stone-curlews, camping at Agnes Beach is permitted only between April and September.
Hinchinbrook Island has no wheelchair-accessible facilities.
- Leave your travel details with a responsible person. Let them know your plans and contact them on your return. Have a contingency plan in place if you fail to contact them by the agreed time. If you change your plans, inform them.
- On hot days you can suffer heat exhaustion. When walking, stop often to rest and avoid the heat of the midday sun. Remember to drink plenty of water, wear a hat and apply sunscreen.
- Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the waters surrounding Hinchinbrook Island at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, a full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Remember to be croc wise in croc country. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first aid information.
- 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
- 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. Take care when crossing these surfaces.
- Carry at least one form of communication equipment. Satellite phones and personal locator beacons (PLBs) are the most effective. Mobile phone coverage is unreliable. If you do have access to a mobile network during an emergency dial Triple Zero (000). Otherwise, send help to the nearest bay or coastal location to alert a passing or anchored vessel. 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 estuarine crocodiles can occur in waters in and around Hinchinbrook Island National Park. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always 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
- sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and clothing for protection against the sun
- repellent and clothing for protection from biting insects
- drinking water
- first aid kit.
Fawn-footed melomys Melomys cervinipes and giant white-tailed rats Uromys caudimaculatus occur across the island. To avoid damage to packs and food, hang your packs on the pack racks where provided. Keep cooking utensils and food covered and off the ground. Do not hang packs in trees as it damages the branches.
Hinchinbrook Island is open 24 hours a day. During periods of severe weather access to the island may not be possible. Sections of the island may also be closed during planned burns. Always check Park Alerts.
Permits and fees
Camping permits are required and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.
The Thorsborne Trail offers walk-in, remote bush camping along the east cost of the island.
Domestic animals are not permitted on Hinchinbrook Island National Park or on tidal lands, including beaches, rocks, mangrove areas and dunes, within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. On the spot fines apply.
Climate and weather
Hinchinbrook Island National Park has a mild subtropical climate. Daytime temperatures and humidity can be high at any time of the year and nights can be very cool. The cooler months of the year, from April to September, are the best times to visit. Please carry suitable clothing to accommodate all temperature extremes.
Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
For more information, see the tourism information links.
Fuel and supplies
Hinchinbrook Island is remote and isolated. Visitors should be well prepared and self-sufficient before setting off from the mainland.
Fuel and supplies are available at Cardwell and Lucinda. For more information, see the tourism information links.
- Challenging summer hiking conditions on Thorsborne Trail 31 October 2022 to 31 March 2023