Hinchinbrook wanderings – a retrospective

copyright: Louise Ralph

Mt Bowen on Hinchinbrook Island

My only resolution this year is to ‘seize the moment’.

So EB and I have been lapping up the holidays, paddling the Brisbane River and freewheeling on our Bromptons around the city.

And while we’re at home, it seems like the perfect time for a little ‘armchair travelling’ – retrospective style.

Here are some memories from my first through-walk effort with EB…

October 2007: A friend of mine has just come back from Fiji and she’s still floating on ten days of waves lapping the shore just outside their beach hut, water of the perfect colour and temperature, cocktails and smiling happy people…

We’re off to the coast next week ourselves. Except I’m carefully packing bush camping gear, insect repellent, dehydrated food, snake bandages and two changes of undies into a backpack that looks big enough to carry me.

We’re getting ready to walk the Thorsborne Trail on remote and beautiful Hinchinbrook Island, off the Queensland coast near Townsville. When I say remote, I’m talking about the only way out being evacuation by emergency helicopter – or on foot.

copyright: Louise Ralph

Achtung! Crocs hang out here.

So, once the ferry drops you off, you’re on your own. Unless you count the company of estuarine crocs, marine stingers, bush rats that steal your food, and a variety of bitey insects.

I’m sure I’ll appreciate the cloud-covered mountains, fragile heath vegetation, patches of lush rainforest, sweeping sandy beaches and rocky headlands – once I’ve dumped my pack for the day.

Did I mention I won’t be able to have a wine for a week?

But there’s bound to be a bit of whine-ing going on! The whole ‘experienced and fit bushwalkers’ thing has me shaking in my sturdy footwear. What was I thinking?

Next time my intrepid adventurer partner EB decides we need a holiday, I’m going to be there when he books it.

Five days later…

copyright: Louise Ralph

As we wait for the ferry to collect us at the end of our Hinchinbrook walk, you could knock me over with a feather. Not because I’m exhausted, but because I am in shock.

I started the walk thinking I’d be counting the days and the kilometres until I reached the end. But here I am, feeling sad that it’s over and wanting more.

I’ve lugged my 15 kg pack along rocky trails criss-crossed with tangled roots, negotiated slippery creek crossings, scrambled up and down rocky sections, and (almost) got used to March flies with a fatal attraction to my hair.

And I’ve loved every bit of it, with the possible exception of EB whacking me over the head constantly (It’s a March fly, he says. Yeah right).

Even with the bities and the humidity, it’s a fantastic walk. One moment we are deep in cool, lush rainforest or rock hopping across crystal clear creeks, the next we’re walking through mangrove and palm swamps, open eucalypt forest or grass tree shrubland.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Zoe Falls

Along the way, we stop to cool off in deep forest pools beneath cascading falls or slide into the pristine blue of one of Hinchinbrook’s bays.

At night, the island comes alive in a very Jurassic Park kind of way.

There’s a whole lot of squawking, hunting and foraging going on beyond the campsite – which is strangely comforting, except when you want to go outside for a pee.

Who would have thought carrying all your stuff on your back for four days could be so relaxing?

Hinchinbrook has left us both floating…and there wasn’t a cocktail in sight. Perfect.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Crab art on Hinchinbrook

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