Hinchinbrook Island, Australia – The land where only 40 people are allowed at once

Hinchinbrook Island let only 40 people inside the island at once? Wait, What? Yes it is true. Hinchinbrook island is one of the most diversely spectacular island in the world and 40 people at once policy has been implemented in order to conserve this heritage for the years to come.

If you are looking for a secret escape which is highly secluded and adventurous including hiking through the breathtaking rainforests, bird spotting, relaxing on the calm beaches, and visiting the Island’s lookout to watch the sunset and to look out for dolphins and turtles there will be no other place like Hinchinbrook Island.

Hinchinbrook Island Queensland
Hinchinbrook Island ( Photo Credits: collectivedigital/instagram )

Location

Hinchinbrook island is the largest island national park of Australia. This island belongs to Queensland of Australia. Hinchinbrook Island is 8km off the Queensland coast at Cardwell and lays south to the town of Lucinda (near Ingham). Cardwell is about 171km north of Townsville and 203km south of Cairns. It is located within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The island is spread over 39.3 sq. km off the Cardwell coast, halfway between Cairns and Townsville in North Queensland. And Hinchinbrook channel is the deep and narrow separation between the Hinchinbrook island and the mainland.

Hinchinbrook island is 37.4km long and 10km wide with a wide range of bio-diversity starting from beaches to mountain cliffs and marine species to rare birds.

History

Hinchinbrook has a rich history with Aboriginal people to be specific Biyaygiri people. This is proved along with the tracks of fish traps which have been found as evidences for their existence in the island.

Hinchinbrook was sighted by English sailer James Cook who sailed by HMS Endeavour in 1770. And he named mountain Hinchinbrook as he thought it was only a mountain not a whole island.

Then in 1819 Lieutenant Phillip Parker King was on his voyage passing the are but still could not confirm Hinchinbrook as an island.

Then in 1843 Captain Blackwood could confirm the area as an island and named it Hinchinbrook island by the name from Hinchinbrook House, Huntingdon, England.

Earlier the connection between english and Biyaygiri were bit peaceful and later on with the conflicts arised both parties were having issues with each other. There were cases where English were hit with rocks by Biyaygiri people which led English people to shot islanders. With the situation getting violent the islanders population git reduced rapidly.

So with that Europeans settled in Hinchinbrook island while doing fishing farming and mining in the land.

In 1932, Hinchinbrook island was named as a National Park. In 1942, with the world war II an american bomber known as Texas Bomber caused death of 12 people crewmen on board.

Wild Life

Hinchinbrook island is filled with different types of environmental aspects such as misty mountains, sandy beaches, palm wetlands, woodlands, paper banks, eucalypt forests, mangrove fringed channel , bays and rocky headlands.

Zoe Falls Hinchinbrook Island
Photo Credits: Megan MacKinnon

Native Animals

And it is understandable to everyone that this island is the habitat for diversely rare species. Talking about species, there are seem to be more than 19 mammal types, 32 types of reptiles and around 150 types of birds including pied imperial pigeons scientifically known as Ducula Bicolour, beach stone curlews scientifically known as Esacus neglectus.

Moving in to marine species anyone can spot species such as mangroves, seagrass beds and fringing reefs which provide houses and food for big animals including dolphins scientifically known as Orcaella heinsohni, estuarian crocodiles scientifically known as Crocodylus porosus , dugongs scientifically known as Dugong dugon and turtles.

Plants

30 plant communities with over 700 plat species have been identified in the Hinchinbrook island and it is no wonder how they are being well  grown in the island due to its climate. The island gets enough of humidity, hot and rainfall and it has a dry cooler weather even in winter. Considering the soil it is well suited for the growth of the plant as the soil is shallow and poor.

The mangroves which is spread over Missionary Bay and Hinchinbrook Channel which includes 31 species of mangrove makes it one of the largest mangrove areas on the Australian continent. Even though there are some rare and threatened plants are to be explored , by now around 14 rare and threatened plant have been found from the Hinchinbrook island. Such rare plant is shrub Comesperma—Comesperma praecelsum which can be only found from the island itself while plants like blue banksia Banksia plagiocarpa and sundew Drosera adelae are restricted only for the Hinchinbrook island and the mainland which is adjacent.

How to get into the Island

In order to enter the island the only way is by water. For that people can either use a private vessel from the Cardwell or Lucinda or else there are commercial ferries which travel through Thorsborne trail which can’t be promised every day due to the weather conditions and time of the year.

And please note that all the island won’t be accessible due its fragile ecosystem including The Aboriginal cultural site Muhr Amalee, on the west side of Missionary Bay which is restricted and require special permission.

And further camping at Agnes Beach is also permitted only between April and September in order to protect the nesting beach stone curlews.

hinchinbrook island, Queensland, Australia
Hinchinbrook island – (Photo Credits: Reuben Nutt)

Camping

Even the island is 24×7 open, you need to have a special permit and fees. Picnic and Day-use areas located in Macushla, The Haven, Zoe Bay and George Point.

No pets are allowed and the campers should be ready with all kind of weather clothes. All the food, water and fuel for any cooking purpose should be supplied by the campers. In simple terms Campers should self-sufficient before entering to the island.

Hinchinbrook Island
Photo Credits: Mitchell and Olivia Rae

Stay safe

Apply sunscreen if the heat is high. And beware of animals such as crocodiles which can turn up anywhere anytime and also dangerous stinging jelly fish can turn up in water anytime. Wear a insect repellent to keep yourself away from insects like mosquitoes.

Stay away from slippery rock surfaces.

Inform someone responsible from your family or friends about your trip before hand. Try to keep a satellite phone or a personal locator in case of your mobile phone coverage is unreliable.

It’s your duty to look after the park

Please follow all the rules and regulations advised by the Park Management,Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).  Some of the tips for you to follow is

  • Don’t feed animals inside the island
  • Don’t bring your pets or any kind of animal to the island
  • Instead of lighting fires which is prohibited use fuel stoves
  • Take your litter with you
  • If there is no toilet available, please bury your human waste at least 100m away from water and 15cm deep.
  • Look out for the speed of your boats as it can disturb the marine species

Go beyond the comfort zone and embrace the real nature and serenity but leave it as it is for the future generation. Hinchinbrook island awaits for you .

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