The Thorsborne Trail

 

We had planned this whole trip to Queensland around walking the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island, a long held dream, and the time had arrived. We set off from the wharf at Cardwell and could soon see rain squalls ahead. After dodging a couple we were engulfed but it was shortlived. By the time we were dropped at the jetty it had stopped and we were dry after ten minutes walking.

We climbed a small headland and dropped to Blacksands Bay before a bigger climb over Nina Saddle and dropped down to our first creek crossing and crocodile warnings. There were mangroves but the tide was well out and the only movement was from the mud skippers. The next creek gave no easy option but wet feet or boots off. Ray was his usual walk straight through and had wet boots for the rest of the trip while Ann and I kept our boots dry. We were soon at Nina Bay where we said goodbye to our boat mates who were all walking the route in four days while we had elected to take five very easy days.

The second day was another four kilometre day and the pity was we couldn’t swim at the beaches because of crocodile warnings. We skirted the rocks and then traversed the aptly named Boulder Bay. The next bay was Little Ramsay Bay, the usual first night’s stop but we pushed on to Banksia Bay to take an hour off the next day – the longest.

Having time to spare we explored the headland to discover an intricate rocky pavement and a view to the next headland which would be an island at high tide. Our walk across the beach at low tide showed us the amazing handiwork of the very small crabs. We camped right next to the beach, just behind the crocodile sign.

Our longest day provided a contrast to the headlands and beaches of the first two as we headed inland and climbed up to a saddle. The climb down the other side along a rocky watercourse was the trickiest bit of the whole walk though one member found it the most enjoyable. We then entered the rainforest and the rest of the day was spent walking through it’s gloomy depths. We crossed the first two creeks easily and kept our boots dry and congratulated ourselves as the tracknotes warned we might get wet. Then of course we came to the real first creek crossing and we could not get through it with dry boots. Out came the sandals and the trusty walking poles were very handy in the knee-deep, fast-flowing water. The next was

 

even stronger and I suddenly wished I had two poles. We also had to walk through a couple of swamps with ankle deep water. We finally emerged at Zoe Bay and a well set out campsite with bench tables.

Zoe Bay also provided us with our first swim as we headed up to Zoe Falls and the lovely pool at the base. We still felt wary of crocs after the warnings from the local at Cardwell to the green tourists and the taking of one on Cape York Peninsula only two days before our walk, so we didn’t venture far in to the dark water. The sun set behind Mt Bowen as we enjoyed the spectacle from the beach and then lit up the clouds and the bay the following morning.

We climbed up beside the falls the next day and stopped for an idyllic swim in the pools at the top. We crossed and recrossed the creek on our way to the highest point of the trip and our first views to the south where Lucinda Jetty, the longest in the southern hemisphere, dominated the scene. Mulligan’s Falls was our final campsite and yet another swim as well as visits from the local wildlife. We could now appreciate why we were putting all our food in metal boxes every night.

The last day was another easy stroll with a few more creek crossings and then a long beach stroll. We chatted to the other walkers while waiting for the boat and one fellow was on his fourth trip and had always kept his boots dry – there was much more water this time. Our last crocodile infested creek was negotiated and the only ones we saw were on the boat ride back to Cardwell.

 

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The Wet Tropics – The Coast

Down off the Tablelands to the coast and first stop was Josephine Falls. The water was flowing well but when we returned five days later it had calmed down and the usual crowd of young ones was swimming and sliding down the rocks.

Babinda Boulders is a favourite with its mix of calm, clear green water and fast flowing action through the enormous, rounded boulders. We also met some of the local wildlife with a trio of curlews frequenting the camp and sounding their sad, plantive cry in the night. We also found a beautifully coloured small spider and a troop of green ants manhandling a dead caterpillar.

We made it to Cairns, our northern most point of the trip, where I couldn’t resist the classic train trip to Kuranda with a return on the Skyrail. While in Kuranda I indulged my passion for photographing butterflies at the Butterfly House.

We couldn’t come here without a trip to the reef so we took a whole day trip to the outer reef where we snorkelled in three places. We saw lots of fish and coral as well as a spotted ray but only a glimpse of a turtle.

We picked up friends in Cairns and headed south, revisiting our favourite spots before stopping at Murray Falls for the night.

The next day gave us our first view of Hinchinbrook Island, our destination for a five day walk, on our way to Wallaman Falls, the longest, single drop, permanent waterfall in Australia. I hope I got the adjectives right as so many waterfalls lay claim to being the biggest in their category but these ones are hard to beat.

On the drive out I finally got a decent sight of those elusive mauve waterlilies we were meant to see at Lake Nuga Nuga and we had to watch out for the Brahman cows that felt the road belonged to them and were reluctant to move off it.

The Wet Tropics – The Tablelands

We finally moved towards the coast stopping at the Atherton Tablelands above Cairns. We started at Granite Gorge at Mareeba, a haven for wildlife. We also began our odyssey to many of the waterfalls that can be found here and discovered a local photographer using a drone to get a better viewpoint.

The weather forecast sent us scurrying for a caravan park with a kitchen as we rarely put up our annexe and do all our cooking outdoors. Queensland largely missed out on a wet season this year but we got a late taste of it as 100-400mm fell in 2 days. It certainly made the waterfalls run well!

We visited some of the other sights as well such as the famous strangler figs. The rain also brought out the fungi and we enjoyed spotting the interesting, enormous fruits of the rainforest. And yet more waterfalls – we can’t resist them. The rain also brought a possum into the outdoor kitchen – retreating from the rain.