Thorsborne Trail Hike
Hiking the Thorsborne Trail is a wonderful experience that will see you enjoying the beautiful natural environment and scenery, challenging treks and making memories to last a lifetime!
It has never been easier to prepare for the adventure of a lifetime! We have sorted through all the information and put it in one spot!
Reviews 1 Review5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Strenuous
Group Size Medium Group
The Thorsborne Trail is one of the country’s most popular hiking adventures. People travel from all over the world just to complete this amazing hike!
Hiking the trail is a wonderful experience that will see you enjoying the beautiful natural environment and scenery, challenging treks and making memories to last a lifetime!
Important links to make preparing for the trail even easier!
It has never been easier to prepare for the adventure of a lifetime! We are the first company who has simplified this process, we have sorted through all the information and put it in one spot!
See the itinerary page for an idea of hiking times and how most people complete the hike. We have a section dedicated to “frequently asked questions”. This section outlines important safety information and ideas on what to pack.
Download a copy of the trail map here.
Click here for the track notes.
Need to get to Hinchinbrook Island? Click here for your complete Thorsborne Trail Transfer Options.
Don’t have all the right gear? No problems, you can hire all the essentials through us! Click on the Hire Equipment page to see our extensive range of hiking equipment. You can also purchase other essential hiking gear here too, such as gas canisters, water bladders etc.
Camping permits can be purchased from HERE.
Do you have excess baggage while on the hike? When you make a booking with us, we will store your excess gear for FREE! Just mention it when you are completing your booking!
Do you need to catch a bus from either Cairns or Townsville? We can book your bus ticket for you! Just ask!
About the Thorsborne Trail
The trail snakes its way through the tropical wilderness of Hinchinbrook Island and includes stretches along its spectacular white sandy beaches. The trail crosses a number of crystal clear mountain streams.
The trail features campsites at a number of locations.
The trail can be done in either direction – ie north to south or south to north.
It totals over 32km of country!
The Thorsborne Trail is what is known as a true wilderness walk – ie. the path isn’t graded or hardened so can be difficult to traverse in places. There are many areas on the hike where you have to walk down extremely steep embankments, boulder hop over flowing creeks and balance along fallen down trees. While the trail is better suited to experienced trekkers, children have completed the trail before. All should be aware of how hard it is going to be at times.
The trail itself is marked with triangular orange markers on trees at irregular intervals, especially on creek crossings and other places where the way to go may be difficult to determine. Rock cairns are also used to help guide walkers along the trail.
Most walkers choose to complete the trail in 3 nights (4 days).
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.
Walkers are required to obtain a National Park permit to access this trail. And only 40 walkers are issued with a permit at any one time so booking well ahead, particularly for the Australian winter months is highly recommended.
Check out the FAQ’s section for ideas on what to pack.
If you need to clarify any of this information with someone, feel free to contact us! We are have completed the Thorsborne Trail multiple time and have all the information needed to complete the hike.
Some of our recent guests hiking the Thorsborne Track put together a series of videos of their trek. You can watch the first one here:
Watch the other videos on Youtube at the links:
What to bring?
- Comfortable Back Pack, Good Quality Tent – We are in Tropical North Queensland, it can rain anytime of the year, and I don’t just mean a drizzle!), Sleeping Mat, Sleeping Bag (all of which can be hired!)
- Comfortable Shoes
- Gas or Alcohol Burner (gas cylinder or metho depending on what type of cooker you have – can be hired)
- Cup/Plate/Cutlery and cooking pot (can be hired)
- Medical Kit (Panadole, Nurofen, Stingoes, band aides, alcohol wipes, tweezers, bandage, strapping tape)
- Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is optional and available for hire at the Cardwell Information Centre.
- 1 pair of socks and fresh under wear each day, 2 sets of clothes, Poncho/raincoat
- Enough Food to last the duration of the trail (1 extra days worth of food in case of an emergency)
- Water Purification Tablets
- Tide Times
- Map and Track Notes
- Mozzie Spray & Mozzie Coils
- Enviro Toilet Paper
- Water Bladder or water bottles
Highly Recommended Things To Bring…
- Hiking Sticks on the Thorborne Trail
Hiking Sticks are extremely useful as the terrain is not always flat. There are many areas on the hike where you have to walk down extremely steep embankments, boulder hop over flowing creeks and balance along fallen down trees. When your backpack is fully loaded it can weigh between 14-20Kg’s. This weight unbalances you and the hiking sticks helps you balance when walking in these rough conditions.
- Boiled Lollies/Snickers Chocolate Bar/Electro-lite Powder
For those who have not done a lot of hiking we recommend to take some lollies/chocolate bars or electro-lite powder with you. After a along day hiking in quite often humid conditions, it can take the energy out of you. This will give you a much needed energy boost that will get you to your campsite that little easier!
Transfers to and from the trail on Hinchinbrook Island
There are Thorsborne Trail Transfer Options to both ends of the trail.
Please note that transfers are very tide dependent so allow for the extra time required if waiting for the tide.
Camping and Hiking Gear
Again hire packages are available for all of your needs to complete the trail. See the packages below for more.
Ramsay Bay to Nina Bay
Distance: 4 km
Time: allow about 2.5 hrs hiking time
This is a popular spot to camp if spending more than 4 days on the trail.
This is a great spot to stop and have lunch and continue to Ramsay Bay if you are completing the hike in the normal 3 nights/4 days.
· Camping area: Nina Bay
· Water: 100–200 m upstream of creeks at either end of Nina Bay and the lagoon at Blacksand Beach
· Toilets: Nina Bay
· Food boxes: Nina Bay
From the boardwalk, walk south to the headland at the southern end of Ramsay Bay. The trail head is marked with an orange marker, located to the right of a large granite rock. The trail follows a ridge before descending to the middle of Blacksand Beach. Seasonal water is generally available between January and August from the creek behind the small lagoon.
The trail continues along the beach beneath three broad-leaved tea-trees Melaleuca leucadendra. It then passes through tall open forest of mainly Gympie messmate Eucalyptuscloeziana and on to the saddle below Nina Peak.
Descending along a seasonal watercourse, the trail then enters a mangrove forest where stands of red-flowered black mangrove Lumnitzera littorea and spotted mangrove Rhizophora stylosaoccur. It is best to cross the creek at low or half tide. The trail then follows the edge of the mangroves before emerging near the northern end of Nina Bay.
Nina Bay to Little Ramsay Bay
Distance: 2.5 km
Time: allow about 2 hrs hiking time
This is a popular spot to camp when completing the hike in 3 nights/4days.
· Camping area: Little Ramsay Bay—southern side of lagoon
· Water: Little Ramsay Bay—creek upstream from the lagoon area
· Toilets: Little Ramsay Bay—southern side of lagoon area
· Food boxes: Little Ramsay Bay
At the southern end of Nina Bay, the trail crosses a rocky section and heads towards the base of a small cliff. The trail climbs the cliff and follows the headland to Boulder Bay. At very high tides a detour through dense vegetation around the top of Nina headland may be necessary. Green turtles Chelonia mydas are often seen in the sea along this section. The trail then rock hops around Boulder Bay to the base of the headland at the southern end. At the southern end of Boulder Bay, orange markers indicate the trail, which travels south-east over the low ridge to the northern end of Little Ramsay Bay.
Little Ramsay Bay to Zoe Bay
Distance: 10.5 km
Time: allow about 6 hrs hiking time
Zoe Bay would have to be the highlight of the walk in my opinion! Most people camp here and sometimes spend 2 nights here to give yourself a nice break during the hike.
· Camping area: Banksia Bay and southern end of Zoe Bay
· Water: Banksia Creek—100 m upstream from the beach, and Zoe Creek—600 m upstream from the camp sites
· Toilets: Zoe Bay—southern end
· Food boxes: Zoe Bay—southern end
From Little Ramsay Bay the trail proceeds south, crossing a tidal creek and continuing to rocks at the end of the beach. The next beach is then accessed by rock hopping around the small headland. At the end of this beach, the trail leads to the upper edge of rocks above a larger sandy beach. From the southern end of this beach the trail heads south-easterly through a small gully to the top of a ridge.
At this point, a side path leads to Banksia Bay (600 m return) and a small camping area. This bay has spectacular fringing reefs and golden orchids Dendrobium discolor can be seen growing on the beachside rocks.
The main trail continues south, descending to the Banksia Creek crossing and onwards south-east to the saddle between Banksia and Zoe bays. At the top of the saddle the trail then descends a rocky creek into the Zoe Bay catchment.
Turning south-south-west, the trail travels to North Zoe Creek through a succession of vegetation types, from dry open forest to rainforest and mangrove swamps. The variation in rain, fire and drainage are the driving forces behind the distribution of these vegetation types.
The trail then passes through several palm swamps in tall rainforest between North Zoe Creek and Fan Palm Creek. The trail may be less visible in these areas. Look carefully for the trail markers.
The most reliable water sources in this section are found where the trail crosses Fan Palm Creek and Cypress Pine Creek. The rainforest here is ideal for bird watching and the deep ’wallock-a-woo’ call of the brightly coloured but elusive wompoo fruit-dove Ptilinopus magnificus can sometimes be heard from within the canopy.
Look out for the hooked tendrils of the yellow lawyer cane Calamus moti and hairy mary C. australis. These climbing palms use hook-studded branches to support growth towards the canopy. Although not poisonous, these tendrils can take a firm hold of hikers’ skin, packs and clothing.
Be prepared to get your feet wet as there are several creek crossings and swampy sections. The trail enters the beach at Zoe Bay with the mouth of South Zoe Creek about 400 m to the south.
The spectacular Zoe Falls are a few minutes along the track from the camping area and are well worth a visit. There is no camping at Zoe Falls—please camp in the camping area.
At low tide look for armies of small, blue soldier crabs Mictyris platycheles on the sand flats near the mouth of South Zoe Creek. From the southern end of the beach the trail leads through magnificent rainforest featuring the orange trunks of alligatorbark Calophyllum sil and the tall, buttressed blue quandong Elaeocarpus grandis. The bright blue fruits of the quandong often litter the forest floor. Large eucalypts emerge above the rainforest canopy, suggesting that this has not always been a rainforest, but that over the last few decades, the absence of fire has caused the rainforest to invade open eucalypt forest.
Zoe Bay to Diamantina Creek
Distance: 6.5 km
Time: allow about 4 hrs hiking time
This is a great spot to stop and have lunch during the hike. This is not a campsite, but a great place to relax before continuing on!
· Camping area: Sunken Reef Bay—behind the fore dune
· Water: Sunken Reef Bay—creek at northern end of beach and Diamantina Creek
From the Zoe Bay camping area, the trail runs parallel with South Zoe Creek, crossing it about 100 m downstream from Zoe Falls. It then continues up a steep slope onto the granite slabs above the falls where there are spectacular views of Zoe Bay. Please remain on the trail at all times and do not camp at Zoe Falls.
Continuing along South Zoe Creek, the trail occasionally crosses narrow rocky tributaries. It then follows a distinct spur to the granite rock pavement of a saddle. At 260 m above the sea, this is the highest point on the trail. On a clear day the picturesque views include the Palm Island Group and Magnetic Island to the south.
Tall heath communities, typical of much of the mountainous parts of Hinchinbrook Island, dominate this section of the trail. Among the many striking sights are the near threatened (rare) blue banksia Banksia plagiocarpa with its blue-grey flowers, gnarled cones and spectacular rusty-red new foliage as well as the pink flowers of the native lasiandra Melastoma malabathricumsubsp. malabathricum. Along the creeks, coral fern Lycopodium cernuum and insectivorous plants like sundews Drosera adelae and D. spatulata line the moist banks.
After crossing the saddle, the trail traverses steep forested slopes of the Sweetwater Creek catchment before climbing into coast she-oak Casuarina equisetifolia and grasstree Xanthorrhoea johnsonii shrubland. The grasstree’s tall flower-spike produces white flowers which are rich in nectar a popular food for many native birds and insects.
The trail then descends into the Diamantina Creek catchment, passing a sidetrack to Sunken Reef Bay before reaching the Diamantina Creek crossing.
Sunken Reef Bay
This location is off the main trail. This is a camp spot, but with no food boxes, toilets or tables. There is water at the end of the beach, however, it may need treating and is not always available depending on rain. Camping is permitted here, however, it is not as popular as the other spots.
Thirty minutes walk along a sidetrack takes you to Sunken Reef Bay camping area Water is available from a small creek at the northern end of the beach. During the dry season, water can be obtained from Diamantina Creek. Camping behind the foredune is popular with sea kayakers and hikers. Between October and March be aware that beach stone-curlews Esacus neglectus and the occasional green turtle Chelonia mydas nest here. Remember, camp fires are not permitted.
Flotsam and jetsam are carried to this beach by the currents. QPWS staff regularly remove the rubbish component of the debris.
Diamantina Creek to Mulligan Falls camp
Distance: 1 km
Time: allow about 30 mins hiking time
Most people camp here when completing the hike in the normal 3 nights/4 days.
· Camping area: Mulligan Falls
· Water: Mulligan Falls
· Food boxes: Mulligan Falls
Use caution when crossing Diamantina Creek particularly if the creek is swollen after heavy rain. Follow the markers diagonally across the creek before the trail continues up a short slope and descends a steep hillside to reach the base of Mulligan Falls Camping here is restricted to one night.
The vegetation in this area is typical of lowland rainforest communities found on Hinchinbrook Island. On a clear day, this section affords good views of Lucinda and the Palm Island Group.
Do not enter the restricted access area at the falls. Death and serious injuries have occurred when people have entered this area. Rock pavements, including those well back from the falls, are extremely slippery and dangerous.
Collect fresh water before leaving Mulligan Falls as water sources are not reliable further along the trail.
Mulligan Falls to George Point
Distance: 7.5 km
Time: allow about 2.5 hrs hiking time
Mainly used as a drop off and pick up location, however people do camp here too.
· Camping area: George Point—southern end of Mulligan Bay
· Toilets: George Point
· Food boxes: George Point
From Mulligan Falls the trail follows the coast, travelling through rainforest and crossing five creeks. The last, Moth Creek, provides only seasonal fresh water and should not be relied upon. About 300 m south of the Diamantina Creek inlet, a sign indicates the northern entrance to Mulligan Bay. The colourful, noisy pitta Pitta versicolor is often seen in this area. Listen for their distinct ’walk-to-work’ call as they search the forest floor for snails and insects.
George Point, the southern exit of the trail, is a further 5 km walk along the beach. About 2 km along, Mulligan Creek flows into the bay and it is advisable to cross this creek at low to half tide. Fresh water is not available here or at George Point, at the southern end of Mulligan Bay.
On the Thorsborne Trail, you need to carry all your camping gear with you.
We have complete hire packages (see below) that include all the hiking and camping gear you will require for a multi-day hike on the Thorsborne Trail for a fraction of the cost of buying everything that you need.
Do you only need some hiking equipment? You can also hire individual items. See all the items HERE!
By hiring one of our packs you know you are getting a top quality product for a very reasonable price and packages include all of the essentials. All you need to add is your food and clothing and off you go!
As the Thorsborne Trail is in the national park, permits are required for camping. You can get your camping permit online at: www.nprsr.qld.gov.au
Download a copy of the Thorsborne Trail Trail Map here or below.
A 65L backpack is a good size for the trail (available for hire).
Click on the dropdown above to see the full list of FAQ – Frequentaly asked questions and answers!
The trail is rated difficult. There are sections of the trail where you are wandering through lush rainforest or beautiful sandy beaches, but there are many sections where you have to climb over boulders, climb up or down very steep embankments. There are many long up hill climbs, that are extremely tiring. It is hard enough, but not that hard that it is un-enjoyable! You still need to have a reasonable level of fitness.
Walking on the beach sounds extremely relaxing, but when you have to carry your backpack that could weigh between 14-20Kg’s and the sand is soft, then it becomes a LOT harder!
Yes. Kids have completed the trail before, however, I would only recommend taking kids that are very active and have carried back packs before. The island is remote and the children must be aware of how hard it is going to be at times.
At most of the campsites there are long drop toilets. Please take environmentally friendly toilet paper with you and do not dispose of anything other than toilet paper in the toilets.
No. You MUST take ALL of your rubbish with you! Please remember this when you are preparing what food to take. ie. small tins of baked beans are great while camping, but you must remember to take the tin with you!
Hiking boots are obviously best to go hiking in, but a good set of joggers is OK or a good quality set of sandles are fine too. Keep in mind, that there is a lot of boulder hopping, creek crossings (you may need to take your shoes off) and ruggered terrain, you need something with good grip that is extremely comfortable.
Most people take 4 days (3 nights). This is a comfortable amount of time to complete the walk in. It allows enough time to relax and swim at the swimming holes. Some people do it in 3 days (2 nights) and some people do it in 5 or 6 days.
Yes. There is water available on the trail. It is recommended that you take water purification tablets with you, but quite often it is not needed. On the Thorsborne Trail Map, it is listed where water is available.
Yes. We are in Far North Qld. But don’t let this deter you though. There are plenty of places to swim along the track. We do not recommend swimming in the ocean.
Strongly recommended! There are many rats on the island that WILL eat through your bags to get to your food! Most of the campsites on the trail have food storage boxes. If you can’t fit your whole bag in the food storage box, take out your food and definitely put that in there. I would recommend to have your backpack in the tent with you.
2Ltrs is a good amount to carry. Remember to stop and fill up when ever you can. There are many freshwater little steams along the way!
Yes! We recommend to take mosquito spray/cream and mozzie coils
There are transfer packages, see outlined below.
You can get your camping permit online at: www.nprsr.qld.gov.au