Cyclone Yasi - recovery
Hinchinbrook and its main service port of Cardwell took a direct hit from Cyclone Yasi in February 2011, and it will take quite a while until things are back to normal.
Hinchinbrook Island National Park is in North Queensland, Australia. The continental island massif is east of Cardwell on the tropical Cassowary Coast. Lucinda via Ingham in the Hinchinbrook Shire provides southern access to Hinchinbrook Channel and Hinchinbrook Island.
The traditional owners of the land, the Bandjin people, retain their cultural connections to Hinchinbrook Island.
Hinchinbrook Island is separated from the mainland by Hinchinbrook Channel. Access to the island is regulated. Here you can experience Australian wilderness, "the nature of North Queensland at it's best."
The northeastern Queensland winter from May to October is the tourist high season. The pleasant tropical climate is warm to cool. The wet Monsoon Cyclone season is the low time of year. During this time, one transfer operation still ferries people to the trail. Absolute North Charters based in Lucinda can transfer you to the Northern end of the trail and return you to your vehicle or shuttle bus in Lucinda. The distance you travel by boat is the same as if you went from Cardwell, only coming off at George point and travelling to Lucinda is only a 10 minute boat ride which is great at the back end of your walk.
Because of very heavy siltation problems at the Marina in Cardwell, it no longer operates as an all tidal boat ramp, and Port Hinchinbrook no longer exists hence many more transfers operate out of Lucinda.
The trip through the Hinchinbrook Channel from Lucinda is exquisite and can only be described as inspiring for the upcoming hike.
This business is local grown and owned, so they are very big on local knowledge of the trail pertaining to your personal safety.
The only means of transport on the island are the transfer operators, on foot and by sea kayak. The only two kayak operators licensed to operate on the island are:
- Coral Sea Kayaking - South Mission Beach, Cassowary Coast Queensland.
- Southern Sea Ventures - St. Ives, New South Wales.
Hinchinbrook beaches are isolated and spectacular, located on the eastern side of the island. Starting from the northeastern tip of the island the most commonly visited beaches are:-
- Orchid Beach which no longer has a Resort
- North Shepherd Beach - 0.5 hours from orchid Beach. 2.0 kilometre beach teeming with tiny Ghost Crabs.
- South Shepherd Beach- 2.0 hour hike from North Shepherd Beach, very remote and private.
- Ramsay Bay beach.
Cape Richards is the eastern most northern tip of Hinchinbrook. From the Lookout view scenes of Goold Island, ocean settings and Orchid Beach. Mangroves can also be viewed at Turtle Bay. A short trail walk from Where a resort use to be. Missionary Bay at the northern end of Hinchinbrook Island is rimmed with mangroves. Spotting Dugongs and Saltwater Crocodile is popular, "Good Luck!" The Absolute North Charters Ferry visits regularly. The day trip includes observing mangrove habitat via a crafted 60 metre Boardwalk. From the Boardwalk a 200 metre trail connects with Ramsay Beach.
The 32 kilometre Hinchinbrook Island Thorsborne Trail shadows the eastern coastline. From Ramsay Bay in the north to George Point in the south. As a guide Hikers plan four(4) days and three(3) nights. There are "no" facilities on the island other than the Cape Richards Resort. Drinking water must be carried, rainwater and creeks are potential seasonal freshwater sources. Hikers must be self-sufficient i.e. Safety Gear, Camping Equipment, Drinking Water, Food, Heating Fuel, Cooking & Eating Utensils, Weatherproof Outdoor Apparel, Sturdy Footwear etc. Open fires are not permitted on Hinchinbrook Island.
Access to Hinchinbrook Islands Thorsborne Trail requires a Permit. Reservations are advised months in advance during the high season. Regulations only permit a maximum of 40 persons on the trail at any given time. Contact the Cardwell Rainforest and Reef Visitor Information Centre (Tel. 07 4066 8601) or go to the EPA Online. Ferry transfers must be arranged in advance. There are no scheduled transfer services for Drop off's/Pick ups at George Point. Make sea transport arrangements in advance.
Note Permits are issued for specified purposes only e.g. the Thorsborne Trail Walk. Additional "Permit(s)" are required for e.g. the Mt. Bowen summit trek 1121m ASL.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan identifies the types of marine activities appropriate for Hinchinbrook Channel and Island. Fishing is popular at sites surrounding Hinchinbrook and Goold Island National Parks. Snorkelling, Spearfishing and Scuba Diving are also possible. Seek more detailed information.
Cardwell retail outlets provide e.g. Personal Hygiene and Body care Products, Food Stuffs, Dining, Camping Accessories, Fishing Gear etc. There are no retail stores on Hinchinbrook Island. The Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge stocks basic necessities.
Eat & Drink
- The Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge Restaurant is open to Resort Guests, Day Trip Guests & Hikers.
- Day Trips - Port Hinchinbrook or Cardwell.
- Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge at Cape Richards.
- Hinchinbrook Island Camping - campsites along the Thorsborne Trail.
- Macushla south of the Cape Richards Resort, permit required. In proximity to the Shepherd Beaches. Facilities include Toilets, Gas barbecue, Picnic Tables and non drikable Water.
- The Haven, western side of Hinchinbrook Island, permit required.
- Goold Island north of Hinchinbook Island, permit required. Long sheltered beach, campsite, no water supply.
- Garden Island west of Goold Island, no permits required.
Note: Obtain Permits at Cardwell Rainforest and Reef Visitor Information Centre or EPA Online.
Cape Richards Resort Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge, Tel. +61 7 4066 8270. The only Lodging on Hinchinbrook Island with Restaurant and Pool. Closed February - March.
- Rainforest Tree Houses - Comfortable lodging, TV and Telephone intentionally omitted, "Escape to the Real World."
- Beach Cabins - Seasoned dwellings, sparsely equipped with basic kitchen facilities.
Saltwater Crocodile habitat exists around the whole coast of the island. Walking anywhere on the island is therefore potentially dangerous.
Goannas are very common on Hinchinbrook Island, up to 2 meters long. They are harmless and avoid being approached.
PLB Hire is available, contact the Cardwell Rainforest and Reef Visitor Information Centre, Ph. +61 7 4066 8601.