Known as one of the best coastal walks in the world, the 32km Thorsborne Trail traverses the largest national park island in Australia.

Story + Photos Ricky French

The roar of the outboard motor subsides as the beach landing craft threads through a narrow channel in a thick mangrove forest and nudges up to a small jetty. Like troops landing on a foreign beach, 6 people pile out and survey their surroundings, ready to face the swamps, beaches, rainforests, mountains and tropical jungles of the uninhabited Hinchinbrook Island.

“There aren’t many places like this left in the world,” says John Schmidt, owner of Absolute North Charters, passing out the hikers’ backpacks, then spinning the wheel of his boat and bidding them goodbye. All going well he’ll pick them up from the other end of the island in 5 days, at the completion of the Thorsborne Trail, a 32km hike along the east coast between Ramsay Bay and George Point. It’s justifiably regarded as one of the world’s great coastal walks. 

The 39,000ha island lies just off the Queensland coast, between the towns of Lucinda and Cardwell. It’s Australia’s largest island national park, and home to more than 50 regional ecosystems. Freshwater streams drain inland mountains that are over a kilometre high, passing through fragile heathlands, sclerophyll woodlands and lush rainforests before merging with mangrove-fringed estuaries and emptying into the sea. It’s a place where time is measured by the slow shuffle of the tide, where money is meaningless and nature omnipotent. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #150

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2023