The Thorsborne Trail

Hinchinbrook Island, North Queensland, Australia

Zoe Bay CampingThe world renowned 32 kilometre long Thorsborne Trail is situated along the east coast of the spectacular Hinchinbrook Island. The trail was named in honour and memory of the late Arthur Thorsborne who along with his wife Margaret shared a lifelong interest in Hinchinbrook Island’s unique natural habitats.

The World Heritage listed National Park; Hinchinbrook Island is separated from the mainland by the scenic Hinchinbrook Channel (a state marine park) between Cardwell and Lucinda (half way between Townsville and Cairns in North Queensland). WalkersThis wilderness island displays 1000 metre high Rocky Mountains, Long Sandy Pristine Beaches, Lagoons, Lush Tropical Rainforest, freshwater Melaleuca Swamps, Waterfalls, Eucalypt Forests, Fragile Heath Vegetation and Mangrove Fringed Creeks with Seagrass Beds (the food source for dugong) in the waters surrounding the island.

The Thorsborne Trail is limited to a maximum of 40 walkers to explore the spectacular eastern side of the island with it’s variety of landscapes along the 32 kilometre trail. Permits must be obtained at $5.15 per person per night.

Creek CrossingThe recommended time to walk the trail between Ramsay Bay in the north and George Point in the south is four days and three nights. This allows time to experience the vast range of Scenery, Wildlife, Habitats and a swim in the Freshwater Creeks and Waterfalls.

Walkers may see Green Turtles or Dolphins off shore, armies of Blue Soldier Crabs scuttling across the sand, Beautiful Birds, Bright Butterflies flitting around the vegetation, Lizards and White-Tailed Rats scurrying away as they hear your footsteps.

Beach campsiteThe seven designated campsites are:

  • Nina Bay – toilet & rat proof boxes provided
  • Little Ramsay Bay – toilet & rat proof boxes provided
  • Banksia Bay
  • Zoe Bay – toilet & rat proof boxes provided
  • Sunken Reef Bay
  • CampsiteMulligan Falls – toilet & rat proof boxes provided
  • George Point – toilet & rat proof boxes provided

Walkers must be totally self sufficient, carrying all necessities including:

  • water (water availability is seasonal)
  • Backpack Hangercamp site tag
  • trail guide
  • food
  • lightweight tent
  • sleeping bag
  • torch
  • insect repellent
  • sunscreen
  • cooking utensils
  • liquid fuel stove
  • biodegradable toilet paper
  • Toiletrubbish bag
  • first aid kit
  • protective clothing

Fast drying clothing and comfortable, sturdy shoes are recommended as there are numerous creek crossings, where water levels can be quite high.

The most popular time to walk is the cooler dry months, May to October; however bookings need to be made well in advance due to the limited numbers permitted on the trail at any time.

Walking up rocksThe terrain can be difficult in some places, walkers should be prepared for bush walking with a pack and bush camping. You will traverse Rocky and Sandy Shorelines, Rainforest Areas and Swamps, a small first aid kit should be carried and safety guidelines need to be followed.

An instructional and safety DVD is available for viewing at designated places including the Cardwell Rainforest & Reef Visitor Information Centre, this should be included in your trip planning.

Walking a beachThe Thorsborne Trail may be walked in either direction, south from Ramsay Bay or north from George Point. Coloured markers are in place on the trail to assist walkers find their way.

Travelling south from Ramsay Bay trail walkers will follow a mountain ridge before descending onto Blacksand Beach. The trail then heads up to the saddle below Nina Peak before descending again to Nina Bay (where a camp site is found). On your journey to Nina Bay an additional walk to the top of Nina Peak is available and marked at the base with rock cairns. Many walkers leave their pack at the bottom near the trail and approximately 1 hour is required to complete the return walk.

Beach on the walkThe next camp site is at Little Ramsay Bay which is located south of Boulder Bay, a green turtle haven, where the trail climbs a cliff that follows the headland. Walkers will then trek along the beach of Little Ramsay Bay, climb around a rocky headland where a side track leads to a campsite at picturesque Banksia Bay, home to some fringing reef.

Continuing on the main trail, dry open forest is passed before entering tall Rainforest where the Bright Blue Fruits of the Quandong Trees attract the elusive Wompoo fruit dove.

The top of Zoe Falls with a view of Zoe BayAfter wading across several creek crossings and swampy sections, the trail enters Zoe Bay where beach and forest campsites are located on the southern end. Spectacular Zoe Falls and the pools at their base are only a short walk from the campsites. Views of Zoe Bay are breathtaking from the granite slabs above the falls, accessed up a steep slope.

The highest point on the trail, 260 metres above sea level found by following a granite spur, is a splendid lookout for views to the Palm Islands and Magnetic Island. Keep an eye out for the Insectivorous Sundew Plants, the Blue Banksia and Coral Ferns along this section. After crossing the saddle, the trail follows the slopes of a creek before climbing into Casuarina and grasstree scrubland where native birds and insects are found in abundance.

A mountain viewOn the descent towards Diamantina Creek, a sidetrack diverts to Sunken Reef Bay where there is a campsite and beach stone curlews and green turtles nest. Climbing a steep hill on approach to Mulligan Falls views of Lucinda and the Palm Islands are panoramic. Upon leaving Mulligan Falls the trail weaves through tropical rainforest and crossing five creeks, the trail spills out onto Mulligan Bay, and the final leg of the journey.

A rocky bayThe final five kilometre stretch from Mulligan Bay to George Point stretches along the beach where a final camp site is provided and is the pick up point for return to the mainland.

Additional walks to Mt Bowen and Mt Diamantina Creek are available in very limited numbers and a permit must be sought by contacting

Chilling out on a beachThe Thorsborne Trail is a true wilderness experience and known to be in the top “Great Walks” in the world. Take the time to plan the excursion and enjoy this magnificent island.

For a successful walk we recommend:

  1. Book your permit early
  2. Good preparation
  3. Allow plenty of time
  4. Be informed
  5. Camping signHave a safety plan (hiring a PLB – Personal Locator Beacon)

Things to consider:

  1. Walk in, Walk out safely
  2. Weight of your pack
  3. Ferry times
  4. Protection from elements e.g. tent, insects

Remember “Leave No Trace” only foot prints in the sand

All camping permits, ferry and bus transfers and PLB hire can be arranged by contacting the:

Cardwell Rainforest & Reef Visitor Information Centre

142 Victoria Street (Bruce Hwy), Cardwell Q 4849

Ph: (07) 4066 8601