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Thorsborne Trail

Hinchinbrook Island, Australia

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Overview

Named after the late Arthur Thorsborne, the Thorsborne Trail follows the eastern side of Hinchinbrook Island, 5 mi off the Queensland coast. This rugged island has everything from cloud-covered mountains to lush rainforest and mangrove fringes.

Allow for a minimum of 3 days to hike the trail. An extra day on the trail could be used to summit Nina Peak or relaxing at Mulligan Falls. Be aware that this is crocodile country - stay out of the water and camp as far away from the water as possible in designated campsites.

Length
17.5 mi
Duration
3-4 days
Elevation Gain
1962 ft
Difficulty
Moderate
Best Time To Hike
Apr - Sep
Trail Type
Point to Point

Logistics

When To Go

April to September are the best months to hike the Thorsborne Trail to avoid the very wet or very dry periods. The trail can sometimes be closed due to severe weather or planned burns, so be sure to check the official trail website before heading out. Fresh water availability can vary depending on season and rainfall.

How To Get There

The Thorsborne Trail is located on Hinchinbrook Island, which is separated from the northern coast of Queensland, Australia by the narrow Hinchinbrook Channel.

Most people hike the Thorsborne Trail from north to south. In this case:

  • The trail starts at Ramsay Bay. Fly into Cairns or Townsville, drive to Cardwell (2-3 hrs) and take a commercial ferry or private vessel from Cardwell to Ramsey Bay (1 hr).
  • The trail ends at George Point. Take a commercial ferry or private vessel from George Point to Lucinda (15 min).

Both Hinchinbrook Island Cruises and Absolute North Charters offer boat services to and from the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island. Be sure to book well in advance.

Permit

A camping permit is required to hike the Thorsborne Trail. The trail is very popular, so be sure to book your permit well in advance.

To book your permit:

  • Go to the Queensland National Parks Booking Service website
  • Create an account if you don’t already have one
  • Once you’re logged in, select “Thorsborne Trail” from the “Enter Park Name” dropdown, your arrival date, and the number of nights you plan to spend on the trail (at least 3 nights is recommended), and click on “Search”
  • In the search results, click on “Reserve” to book your permit

Where To Camp

Out of 16 total campsites, there are 7 campsites that are reserved just Thorsborne Trail hikers. Camping permits are required - see the Permit section for more details. When you book your permit, you’ll get access to any Thorsborne Trail campsite during your hike, so you don’t have to book each campsite separately.

Know Before You Go

The trail is in crocodile country, so stay at least 16 ft from the water’s edge at all times. When setting up camp, do so at least 164 ft from the water’s edge. Be sure to report any crocodile sightings to CrocWatch.

You’ll encounter plenty of mosquitos, especially at the Zoe Bay campsite, so be sure to bring insect repellent and cover up arms and legs when you get to camp to avoid bites.

Links & Resources

Queensland National Parks

Ferry to Hinchinbrook Island

Map & Trail Notes

Day 1

Ramsay Bay - Little Ramsay Bay

4 mi
574 ft
581 ft

Take the commercial ferry you booked ahead of time from Cardwell to the trailhead at Ramsay Bay. Head east from the ferry landing to the beach. Continue along Blacksand Beach to the Nina Bay campsite, passing Nina Peak along the way.

Scramble from Nina Bay over rocky ground; climb a small cliff and follow the headland to Boulder Bay. Follow the orange markers south-east, over a low ridge to Little Ramsay Bay.

Day 2

Little Ramsay Bay - Zoe Bay

6 mi
466 ft
446 ft

Trek south from Little Ramsay Bay, cross a tidal creek and rock hop around the headland to the next beach.

Following the main trail south, cross Banksia Creek to the saddle between Banksia and Zoe bays. Descend from the saddle into a rocky creek and continue south-south-west through dry open forest, rainforest and mangrove swamps to North Zoe Creek.

Trudge through palm swamps and tall rainforest to Fan Palm Creek. Prepare to wet your feet at creek crossings and swampy sections hiking to Zoe Bay.

Day 3

Zoe Bay - Mulligan Falls

3.5 mi
840 ft
784 ft

Follow the trail parallel to South Zoe Creek, before crossing it and climbing steeply to the granite slabs above Zoe Falls.

Cross the saddle and trek slopes of coastal she-oak and grasstrees before descending to the Diamantina Creek crossing, passing a side-track to Sunken Reef Bay on the way.

Follow the markers across Diamantina Creek, taking care, especially after heavy rain. Climb the short slope then descend to the base of Mulligan Falls. Collect fresh water before you leave as water sources further along the trail are not reliable.

Day 4

Mulligan Falls - George Point

3.5 mi
82 ft
154 ft

Follow the coast, travelling through rainforest then crossing five creeks. About 984 ft south of the Diamantina Creek inlet a sign indicates the northern entrance to Mulligan Bay. Stroll 1 mi along the beach to Mulligan Creek, cross it at low to half tide, and then 2 mi further on is George Point and the southern end of the trail.

Your ferry captain will pick you up at George Point and take you back to the mainland at around noon, depending on the conditions of the day.

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