Thorsborne trail, Hinchinbrook Island
Discover the rugged beauty of this World heritage-listed island with a challenging and unforgettable hike.
Step off the boat from mainland Australia onto Hinchinbrook Island in the Great Barrier Reef. Take a deep breath of the tropical air and start walking. Hello Hinchinbrook – the largest island in the reef.
With glorious views, jagged peaks, waterfalls and swimming holes, this is one of the most popular, if not challenging, island hikes in Australia.
If it’s been raining you’ll soon become familiar with creek crossings, but keep looking forward to gorgeous highlights like Zoe Bay and Falls. As awesome as the Thorsborne Trail is, it is not to be underestimated. A hike like this demands respect and preparation.
The track can comfortably be walked in three days, but our itinerary is based on four days and three nights to include side trips that we don’t think you should miss.
Get ready for
● Sea turtles
● Pristine coastal beaches
● Crystal clear cascading waterfalls
● Lush rainforests
● Crocodylus porosus aka Mr Salty
● Towering eucalypt forests
● Rugged tropical peaks
● Magnificent falls and water holes at Zoe Bay and Mulligan Falls
● Stunning sunsets
Daily detail Thorsborne trail
This morning we suggest taking the longer transfer from Lucinda to Ramsay Bay. Sit back and enjoy the 1½ hr ferry ride through the magnificent Hinchinbrook channel and the mangrove estuary to Ramsay Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for dugongs and especially crocs at low tide. Enjoy the leisurely start to the trail on the boardwalk at Ramsay Bay and along the beach before heading into the bush, passing through tall open messmate forests and magnificent mangroves. Test your stamina later in the day as you rock hop around Boulder Bay, treating yourself to a welcome dip in the refreshing lagoon at Ramsay Bay. Not to be missed today is a side track up to Nina Peak to be treated with the most spectacular view on the island – a photographers dream.
Overnight at Little Ramsay Bay Campsite
A longer and more strenuous day today with many water crossings and swampy areas but this simply adds to today’s ‘jungle feels’ . A day filled with lush rainforest lets you know you truly are in the tropics and a slight detour to one of the island’s hidden gems, Banksia Bay, lets you enjoy a tranquil, tropical beach with uninterrupted views up the coastline. Top the day off and feel like a rock star with a relaxing swim in the crystal clear waters of the Zoe Falls lagoon, nature’s own infinity pool.
Overnight at South Zoe Beach Campsite
Today’s hike is fairly short which affords you time to appreciate the many spectacular viewpoints during the days rugged but worth it hiking. Start the day off with a bang and get up to the top of the falls to watch the sunrise – a real highlight to carry with you as you traverse the highest section of the trail today. On clear days you can see the Palm Island group and Magnetic Island to the south. You finish up the day at Mulligans Falls with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the magical setting in the large plunge pool or bask on the rocks watching the Jungle Perch fish swim in the clear waters. Tonight you will be lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of the falls.
Overnight at Mulligan Falls
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning before beginning your last hiking day on the trail. The first 2.5kms reward you with some impressive creeks through dense and magnificent, tropical rainforest before you pop out onto the beach for the last stretch to George Point. Lose yourself in a rhythmic beach stroll on the wide and open stretch of Mulligan Bay, crossing Mulligans Creek in the middle, to take the short ferry ride back to the mainland.
Talk to our staff before you confirm your trip if you’d like to add more days to make a 5-day walk or to allow time for other side trips and we can adjust your meal packs and camping permits accordingly.
Side trips to choose from include must-see Zoe Falls and summiting Mt Bowen’s highest peak. Our dedicated section in our guide provides in-depth information on side trips .
Explore Thorsborne trail
Duration: 4 days +
Route type: Linear trail, from A to B
Start: Ramsay Bay
End: George Point
Location: Hinchinbrook Island
Closest towns: Cardwell and Lucinda, mainland Australia
On the trail
There are sections of the trail which are very rugged with rough, loose stones and uneven terrain. Most accidents on the island are from walking on the slippery rocks in and around the creeks and water holes. The risk of broken ankles and wrists poses a threat and great care must be taken at all times. Please ensure your footwear is sturdy and be cautious when rock-hopping.
If planning on hiking the side trip to Mt Bowen (for which a separate permit is needed), note there is no trail up the mountain so you’ll need to rely on your own navigation skills. This route is very hot in summer and will often be in cloud at this time.
- Our detailed guide to hiking the Thorsborne trail – contains all the essential information you need to know in advance
- 4 days worth of food for your adventure; breakfast, lunch and dinner each day – delivered straight to your home
- Our own range of Lightweight, highly nutritious meals that are locally sourced, delicious and easy to carry & cook ( freeze dried and dehydrated)
- Round trip ferry transfers from Cardwell to George point / Ramsay Bay
- Our ‘state of the art’ Navigation app to guide you on the track; showing huts, campsites and all points of Interest along the way
- Delivery to your door* of our ‘Adventure in a box’ food parcel
- Our ‘Get fit for hiking’ e-guide for backpacking adventures
- 10% GST included
* Additional $35 delivery charge for locations in NT, WA and Northern Queensland
- Transfers or transport to Cardwell
- No equipment included
- 4 nights campsites fees
- National park entrance fees & permits
- Ferry transfers from Cardwell to George point / Ramsay Bay
Our essential information guides give you everything you need to know – and none of the information you don’t – to prepare well for one of these hikes. We cover off all transport and transfers with contacts, full equipment lists tailored to each walk, and safety factors to consider that can be unique to each track. We give you the information you need to know about water and where the best accommodation is before and after your trip, plus overviews of Aboriginal & European history and wildlife you can expect to encounter.
It saves countless hours of trawling through websites, guidebooks and forums to get to the essential information you need to know, so you don’t forget to factor in anything for your adventure.
Finding your way
Our unique RAW Travel walking app has been designed to help you navigate easily on the trail. Simply download your map with the link we send you and you’ll be able to follow your route with ease, showing your location in real time without any internet connection needed. The app has many great features; it shows you weather forecasts localised for each of your overnight stops, detailed information on each campsite/ hut and what facilities are available there so you don’t need to carry our trail guide. There are important reminders, safety information, videos and emergency contact information for your route. It also has a unique audio feature that can tell you about places and points of interest as you approach them on the trail.
Need to Know
We classify this as a challenging walk that best suits more experienced hikers with a good level of fitness and confidence. The trail may be on the short side, but still poses a challenge for even a seasoned walker, with a number of diverse landscapes to cross. From mountains shrouded in mist and tropical rainforest paradise, fragrant patches of eucalypts and dense mangroves to spectacular and pristine ocean beaches and crystal clear mountain streams and waterfalls, the Thorsborne Trail is a wilderness wonderland.
Yes. There are a couple of outdoor gear hire companies who can help outfit you with equipment for the Thorsborne Trail, details are given in our guide which you receive after booking.
Townsville airport is the nearest point to fly into, Cairns is the next closest option. You will need a transfer from Townsville airport to Lucinda or Cardwell. There are no local buses from either airport, so shuttle buses are required. It is important to book your transport before you start your walk. You can be transferred by Hinchinbrook Resorts (by bus) to either Lucinda or Cardwell from Townsville Airport.
From Cairns Airport you can take a Greyhound Australia bus or the Spirit of Queenslander train.
- Townsville to Lucinda – 139km (1.45 hour drive, 2 hour bus, 2 hour train)
- Townsville to Cardwell – 165km (2 hour drive, 2 hour bus, 3 hour train)
- Cairns to Lucinda – 244km (3 hour drive, 4 hour bus, 5 hour train)
- Cairns to Cardwell – 183km (2.5 hour drive, 2 hour bus, 3.5 hour train)
You then take a ferry from Cardwell to Hinchinbrook Island, which is booked for you by RAW Travel and included in the price.
Independent adventures place you at the centre of the experience, giving you the confidence to be a self-reliant walker on the trail. We take care of the research needed and give you all the essential information relating to the trip ( a task that seasoned walkers can tell you often takes many hours to get the correct information) so you can be thoroughly prepared and confident that you have everything you need for your adventure. We give you all the contacts & details to nearby transportation, accommodation and hire services, highlight any risks to be aware of and how to mitigate them.
The food prep is a major hassle of many hikers trips and we solve that for you. We prepare all the food that you need for your trip, all pre-measured and dehydrated / freeze dried to take away the weight but keep the freshness. Our meals are reviewed by Nutritionists to provide the right daily nutrition and energy for your demands of the walk. And our ingredients are prepared from the best local ingredients here on the Mornington Peninsula, cooked to order and freeze dried fresh – not sitting on a shelf for years at a time!
Once you arrive at the trail it’s all over to you the adventure begins! You are free and independent to create your own experience the way you want it. We provide you with an app to help you navigate in real time on the trail and give you the campsite locations and points of interest but you are completely autonomous & self – supporting on the walk. These trips are best suited to people who relish that sense of liberation and freedom that comes with being self-reliant and don’t need the back up of a leader or group travel. Independent Adventures are different from our other self – guided walking trips as there are no briefings, transfers or local support from RAW Travel staff. It’s just you and nature out on the trail!
If you are an experienced walker then yes, but not recommended for a beginner to walk solo due to the challenging terrain and isolation. The north to south trail is well marked with triangular orange markers, (yellow for south to north) especially on creek crossings and other areas where the trail is not completely clear and there are communal campsites to head to each evening.
A maximum of 40 people with a maximum group size of six are allowed on the Thorsborne Trail at any one time and permits are required. RAW Travel will arrange these for you and also book you into the campsites en-route. There are seven designated camping areas on the trail; they are a mix of sand and dirt campsites, some are situated near the beach others in the rainforest.
The 4-day itinerary includes a stay at three of the camps. These are usually (but not guaranteed)
- Night 1 – Little Ramsay Bay
- Night 2 – Zoe Bay
- Night 3 – Mulligan Falls
None of the seven camps have purpose-built shelters so you will need to carry your own tent/shelter but the above three sites do have composting toilet facilities.
The peak season is 1 April to 30 September when the cooler weather and low rainfall makes it an ideal time for hiking. Fresh water is also easier to find early in the hiking season. The creeks dry up through the winter and water can be hard to find at the end of the season.
October to March is often stifling heat and humidity along with a high chance of monsoonal rains and cyclones. Ferry services are limited during the off peak season and weather dependent so they may be cancelled.
The park is managed to preserve the natural, cultural and scenic values so the number of campers permitted at a time is capped at 40, at all times. Whilst this can make it difficult to obtain a permit, it guarantees a peaceful and uncrowded trail. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Social and environmental
All our adventures are fully carbon offset so that you know your travel has minimal impacts. Hiking itself is a low impact activity but we offset the cost of all our office operations and food production as well, so you can be satisfied that you have chosen a form of travel that is both good for you and good for the planet. Each year we also plant trees on behalf of every customer who has travelled with us, aiming to build towards a carbon positive effect with our operations.
As a B-Corp a focus on local community is an important part of who we are. We are committed to buying locally and source our produce from growers here on the Mornington Peninsula. We care about people in our community and for every meal pack you buy with us we donate a meal to a homeless support charity, to spread some love and share good food with those who need it most.
TRIP date selection
when would you like to travel?
Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed