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Hinchinbrook Island

Hinchinbrook Island sits just 4km off the Queensland Coast with the closest mainland town being Cardwell. Approximately 180km south of Cairns and 120km north of Townsville, Hinchinbrook Island (including Goold Island) forms Australia’s Largest Island National Park.

Originally part of mainland Australia (prior to the last ice age) Hinchinbrook Island was joined by what is now the Hinchinbrook Channel, this was originally a valley between Mt Bowen on the island and the Cardwell Range on the mainland. The shores either side of the Hinchinbrook Channel now host extensive and ecologically important mangroves and sea grass beds where dugong live.

At a little over 37km long and 10km wide, Hinchinbrook Island is quite large and an important nature reserve and eco-tourism destination. Hinchinbrook Island provides habitat for some important endangered species of plants and animals such as the giant tree frog. It is also important to note that the some of the mangroves in various parts of the island are inhabited by crocodiles so a cautious approach to these areas is a must.

The highest point on the island is Mount Bowen at 1121 metres, similar to most of the peaks on Hinchinbrook Island it was originally a volcano.

Prior to European settlement the island was inhabited by the Bandjin aboriginal people, who left notable evidence of their stewardship with rock fish traps built in the shallower waters of the island. Ingeniously, the Bandjin used their knowledge of local tides to create the rock traps that would keep fish alive for a number of days. Sometimes more fish were caught than were needed so they would leave some fish for the birds to eat, it is believed that this practice helped promote the bio-diversity of the island.

There is a very impressive hiking trail on the island called The Thorsborne Trail, not for the novice this trail takes approximately 4 days to complete the 32km length and covers the eastern side of the island from south to north including some major peaks.

Camping is allowed on the island but by permit only and numbers are restricted to limit impact, no open fires are permitted on the island at any time. There is a small resort at the northern tip of the island, this area does not form part of the National Park. Access to the island is via ferry from Cardwell which runs daily.

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