Edith Shum: Hiking Hinchinbrook Island

The Thorsborne Trail will challenge you, and reward you with an extraordinary diversity of scenic views. It will create lasting memories, and remind you how amazing it is to be living in beautiful Tropical Queensland.

The weather is finally cooling down again, which means, it is the perfect time to organize a long-weekend hiking trip. As I mentioned before in my previous blog posts, I found a way to love Townsville because of all its ‘hidden gems’.  Hinchinbrook Island is one of those gems. You can actually see this remote island up on Mount Stuart on a clear sunny day. Located off the north Queensland coast, the island is famous for the Thorsborne Trail.

A 32km stretch along the island’s east coast, and arguably “one of the world’s best backpacking adventures”. Mountains, waterfalls, stunning beaches, swimming holes, boulder hops, creek crossings, and great wildlife, there’s nothing you’d want more. To try to keep this blog post short, I won’t go into depth on how to hike Hinchinbrook Island (these fellows go into great detail about what you need to know), and instead, will give you a highlight of some of the things I learned from my experience hiking Hinchinbrook Island.

Although I’ve had a lot of hiking experience in the past, I never found the time (or had the gear) to do a proper multi-day backpacking trip. My friend who was much more experienced with backpacking had planned most of the trip, so I was confident the trip would go all according to plan! But of course… where would the fun be in that? It was 10pm the night before the trek when my friend called and said he was invited to go on what sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime rock climbing trip. As a climber myself, I totally understood why he had to bail. He reassured that he will provide me with all the gear that I would need but that never really stopped me from panicking. I was totally unprepared and instantly regretted not planning the trip more myself. I was fortunate that my partner was still able to join me on this trip, but we were both pretty inexperienced. We packed frantically for the rest of the night, only to have 4 hours of sleep before the three nights, four-day trek along the Thorsborne Trail.

The top ten things I learned from this trip were:
  1. Make sure to have a good night’s rest the day before the trip (i.e. don’t only have 4 hours of sleep the night before)
  2. Plan a trip as if you were the only one going-do your research and don’t count on anyone else!
  3. Don’t carry 6 cans of cider in your pack- the weight makes a huge difference.
  4. Invest in a great pair of hiking socks, and don’t be afraid to wear that pair for the entire trip (you’re in the wilderness, who cares!)
  5. Pack what you think you’ll need, and leave half of that behind. Think again when you think you’ve packed light!
  6. Use the rat proof boxes, so you don’t have to worry about the rats eating through your pack to get your food! Some camping sites don’t have boxes, so make sure you bring at least a Tupperware to secure your food!
  7. Dehydrated food is actually pretty satisfying. The Back Country Vegetarian Stirfry is one of the tastier meals out of the variety of camp foods. If you want meat, just remember it has been dehydrated, so all the texture will be gone!
  8. Iodine tablets are super handy to have to treat the water from the creeks!
  9. If you don’t have toilet paper, use a shell or rock, and DO NOT USE A LEAF (not from personal experience, haha)
  10. Waking up extra early to watch the sunrise from Mulligan Bay on our last day was super worth it- you wake up with the sun anyway, so why not beat the sun to it this time?

The weather was absolutely perfect, and we were lucky that we had a pretty dry wet season, allowing us to cross the creeks quite freely without worry. We met a couple who had attempted hiking the island a couple of years ago, only to find themselves unable to cross the first creek, and having to wait for a couple of days at the drop-off point for the boat. So just make sure you are prepared for the worst-case scenario!


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