Off the Beaten Path - Traveling in Queensland, Australia

By: Marcela Devivo

Travel in Hinchinbrook Island
Located in northern Queensland, Australia, Hinchinbrook Island is separated from Queensland by a narrow channel called the Hinchinbrook Channel. The town of Ingham and Cairns lie just to the south and access to the area is quite limited.

Part of the reason is that Hinchinbrook Island is a National Park, and thus strictures are put on the number and amount of tourists. That said, most people don't have any trouble making their way to this amazing island, but the people you meet will be others, who, just like you, wanted to get away from the main Queensland tourist crowds and enjoy the spectacular image of an almost untouched natural environment.

The best times to visits are May through October, which corresponds with the Australian 'winter.' These months are some of the coolest and most pleasant months, and are thus an excellent time to visit the area. Keep in mind that if you go off season, getting there will be a bit more difficult as services are limited in the off season and due to cyclone season, the ferries and one resort close down.

Traveling to the island
There is only one way to travel to the island, and it is via the Hinchinbrook Island Ferries, located about two hours south of Cairns in Caldwell on the mainland. The ferries operate daily during normal business hours, i.e., 9 to 5, in the peak season and only three days a week in the off-season.

Thus, if you decide to make a visit, you should plan your trip specifics accordingly as one season differs a lot from the other.

Traveling on Hinchinbrook Island is best done on foot, so plan on doing a lot of hiking and walking. Luckily, there are many sights to see, not the least of which are the amazing beaches. You have Orchid Beach , North Shepherd Beach , South Shepherd beach, and Ramsay Beach , to name a few of the most popular.

Additionally, enjoy Cape Richards at the most northern tip of the island; it is a fantastic lookout point that offers amazing views of the sea and Orchid Beach . Missionary Bay offers a more unique treat with its mangrove swamps, home to both sea cows and crocodiles.

Activities
For the more rugged travelers, enjoy the approximately four day trip along a 32 kilometer trail, called the Thorsborne Trail, which follows the length of Hinchinbrook Island, from Ramsay Beach in the north to George Point in the south. This is a great trip, but hikers must be completely self-sufficient; no open fires are allowed because of the islands National Park status. Thus campers must bring all their own equipment and a permit is required. It can be reserved in advance, and only a maximum of forty people are allowed on the trail at one time.

Besides trekking, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing are all available activities for visitors. You can enjoy long walks along the beaches, beautiful sunsets and even splurge on an excellent dinner or other goodies at Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge.

Lodging
The lodge also provides accommodations to visitors, but it is far more expensive than camping, which is the mode of choice for most visitors who come to the island. There are a number of fully equipped campsites open to visitors and a couple need wilderness permits, available in Cardwell or online.

If you do decide to stay in the lodge, there are two options. One is the tree houses in the rainforest. Simply but sufficiently equipped, without phone or television, they are connected by a steady boardwalk. Rates start at $475 per person, but this does include ferry rides to and from Cardwell, all meals and sightseeing trips around the island.

Beach cabins are another option and, though they are older and equipped with only the bare necessities, several units to offer simple kitchens. None of them offer meals or cleaning services. They can be rented per night for $160, and the maximum amount of people allowed to stay in one cabin is four.

Thus, if you're looking for a different vacation that is still exciting but not where everyone else is going, do check out Hinchinbrook Island in Queensland , Australia . If you like being adventurous and are up for a good time, it is an awesome place to visit, relax and breathe in nature's beauty in all her glory.

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