Thorsborne Trail Hinchinbrook Island

Thorsborne Trail or East Coast Trail - (3 - 7 day Trek)

Thorsborne Trail

The Thorsborne Trail (commonly known as the East Coast trail) is reputedly one of the world's best backpacking adventures. This 32km trail winds its way along the eastern edge of the magnificent island in the shadow of the rugged Mt. Bowen.

It snakes its way through a tropical wilderness, along spectacular ocean beaches and crosses numerous crystal clear mountain streams. Camp sites are on beautiful beaches, beside fresh water streams or near magnificent mountain stream waterfalls with great safe freshwater, swimming. From Ramsay Bay in the north to George Point on the southern extremity of the island, this walk is a must for those wanting to experience all of the magnificent splendour and isolation this unique island has to offer.

The trail is marked with triangular orange markers on trees at irregular intervals, especially on creek crossings and other places where the trail itself may be indistinct. Rock cairns are also used to help guide walkers along the trail. It is an ungraded trail and is rough with loose stones, slippery creek crossings and, in wet weather, slippery hillsides.

The trail can be walked from either direction with most walkers completing it in 3 nights (4 days) with the average duration between designated camping sites only 3 - 4 hours. Prevailing weather conditions can have an influence on walking times e.g. slippery surfaces due to rain; heat and humidity.

While the trail presents seasoned walkers with a challenge, inexperienced and the young at heart adventurers, with sufficient planning, will find the experience extremely rewarding.

Walkers must be totally self sufficient. Fuel stoves are required. Abundant fresh water is available at campsites, however, towards the end of the dry season, local knowledge on water availability is required. (DERM rangers or the ferry operator may be consulted).

Walkers are required to obtain a National Park permit to access this trail. Only 40 walkers are issued with a permit at any one time. Book well ahead, particularly for the Australian winter months or you may not be able to acquire a permit.

Permits & Notes For Trail Walkers


Call 131 304 or visit Trail maps and notes can also be obtained from this website.

Trail Notes

Pebble Beach Thorsborne Trail

The Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management have comprehensive trail note which are a must for intending walkers. The notes can be obtained from the Rainforest and Reef Centre Cardwell or from the ferry operator. To make a booking for a permit online go to the DERM website. A copy of the notes can be printed from here also. It is advisable to obtain a copy of the notes beforehand to assist in the planning process.

For information on permits and trail notes you can call into the Rainforest and Reef Centre CARDWELL Q 4849 AUSTRALIA.


Due to the remoteness of the trail and the difficulty of access you are required to organise a definite departure time from the island with the ferry operator before you will be transferred to the trail. This is for your safety. If you do not meet the predetermined pick up time you will be regarded as missing and search procedures will be initiated. This procedure has been instigated as a positive safety feature and generally welcomed by walkers. It should not be considered as a limitation or invasion of your freedom.


Fresh drinking water is available in the clear mountain streams along the trail. Towards the end of the "dry season" it may be necessary to seek good water further upstream. The ferry operators will be able to give you current advice on water availability at the different campsites.

Fuel Stoves

Hinchinbrook Island is managed as a " fuel stove only " area to reduce the risk of wildfires and lessen degradation at campsites. Fires are not allowed.

Native Rats & Insects

Native fawn footed melomys and the giant white-tailed rat are present at most campsites. To avoid damage to packs, tents and food supplies it is necessary to remove all food from your pack at night and place in rat proof storage boxes.These are very pretty and friendly native animals and not an introduced rodent.

It is important to use insect repellent, usually only early in the morning and again late in the evening, to avoid bites from insects such as sand-flies, mosquitoes and marchflies.

Planning your trip

This is a wilderness area. You need to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. You will need to:

  • Plan food for at least three nights + allow 1-2 days extra food for safety.
  • Carry adequate water carrying utensils (usually a minimum of 2 litres per person)
  • Wear sturdy, reliable footwear.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Carry a basic first aid kit.
  • Carry tide tables.
  • Use a fuel stove for cooking and heating.
  • Use a lightweight waterproof tent that screens out insects.
  • Use insect repellent and clothing to avoid insect bites.
  • Have lightweight sleeping equipment.
  • Cold climate sleeping bags will be too hot.
  • Have a waterproof clothes bag.
  • Have strong rubbish bags for the removal of ALL rubbish.
  • Carry nourishing lightweight food, not canned or in jars.

The Mountains

Much of the mountain area is covered with fragile heath vegetation. To protect the unspoiled nature of the mountains and in the interests of safety, access to these areas is restricted. A special permit is required to access these mountains.

Mt. Bowen

This is the highest peak on the island (1121m) and the most popular with climbers. A very limited number of permits are issued to access this area. On average, first time climbers take 1.5 days to reach the summit. There is no trail up the mountain and climbers must rely on their own navigational skills. In summer it is a very hot climb and the summit is often in cloud. Winter days are much cooler and there is greater probability of the summit being cloud free.

Mt. Straloch

In December 1942, an American B24 Liberator bomber known as Texas Terror left Townsville for Cape York on the northern tip of Australia with a crew of five and seven passengers aboard. It ran into a severe electrical storm and crashed near the summit of Mt. Straloch. All aboard were killed. Due to the difficult terrain the remains of the wreck have had little disturbance since that fateful day. The climb to the wreck site and back can be achieved in a day in good conditions. Local knowledge is required for the climb. The local ferry operator can assist with this knowledge.

Sample 4 Day Trek

This is just an example of a trek. Many variations exist.

  • Reserve a Permit from the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management. Try to do this well in advance. Call 131 304 or visit requesting your permit for specific days (usually 3 nights and four days) e.g. 09 June to 12 June.
  • Bus or Taxi transfers to/from either ends of the Island at Port Hinchinbrook and Lucinda are available through Cardwell Taxi Bus Charters.
  • Reserve and organise payment for a transfer to/from the northern end of the trail by calling 07 4066 2000.
  • For transfers to/from the southern end of the trail visit or call 07 4777 8307

Day 1 - Ramsay Bay to Nina Bay (4km)

Thorsborne Trail Camping

This section of the walk takes about 1.5 hours and is through mainly tall open forest. The opportunity to climb Nina Peak, about half way along this section should not be missed. A rough track to Nina Peak leads off the main trail at its highest point between Ramsay Bay and Nina Bay. This trail is rugged and steep but the views from the top are spectacular. It adds about 1 hour to your walk from Ramsay Bay to Nina Beach. Nina Beach is a beautiful tropical setting for a campsite and has a pit toilet. Fresh water is available from a stream on the southern end of the beach.Most trekkers spending 3 nights would have lunch, a swim, rest and then carry on to Little Ramsay Bay in the afternoon.

Day 1 - Nina Bay to Little Ramsay Bay (2.5km)

The trail from Nina Bay to Little Ramsay is mainly rock-hopping around the rugged headland and takes about 1.5 hours. The campsite at Little Ramsay Bay is beside a freshwater lagoon (water-hole) fed by Warrawilla Creek.This is a beautiful campsite and the rest of the afternoon can be spent swimming and exploring this area. Camp here for the first night.

Day 2 - Little Ramsay Bay to Zoe Bay (10.5km)

This is the longest section and care should be taken not to leave your departure from Little Ramsay Bay too late. Allow at least 5 hours for this section.The trail leads over rugged hills, through tropical jungle rainforest, skirts around mangrove forests and swamps before breaking out of the jungle onto the magnificent Zoe Bay beach. It is then just a short walk up to the famous Zoe Waterfall. South Zoe creek cascades over the falls into the crystal clear pool that has made Zoe Bay famous. You may have to share this pool with visitors from cruising yachts. Every cruising yacht cruising up the Australian coast seems to have Zoe Falls on their itinerary, however, the coastline is very rugged and exposed to the prevailing weather and yachts are only able to access the area in periods of calm weather. Camp the second night at Zoe Bay.

Day 3 - Zoe Bay to Mulligan Falls (7.5km)

The third day is a relatively short day, however it is quite rugged. The trail follows dry creek courses for much of its length and involves a lot of rock hopping. If it rains while hiking this section your progress will be considerably slowed as the rocks get very slippery. The campsite for the third night is beside the beautiful Mulligan Falls. This is a magnificent swimming hole which abounds with friendly jungle perch (fish).

Day 4 - Mulligan Falls to George Point (7.5km)

The last days walk is through about 2.5km of tropical rainforest with five creek crossings before you break out of the rainforest onto the beach. It is another 5km along the beach to the pick up point at the end of the walk. About two-thirds along this beach it is necessary to cross Mulligan Creek. It is advisable to cross this creek close to the low tide point. You will be advised of these times by the ferry operators before commencing the trail. The pick up time at George Point is predetermined and takes into consideration the tidal condition at Mulligan Creek. The ferry operator will pick you up at George Point for the transfer to the mainland.