Sea Kayakers are the Bushwalkers of the Sea

by Rod

in Sea Kayaking



Sunkin Reef Bay

Can you compare Bushwalking to Sea Kayaking

In most cases you can not compare sea kayaking directly to bush walking because most of the time they are in different environments. A couple years ago I paddled with a group from Lucinda, along the out side of Hinchinbrook Island through the Family Group of Islands and onto Dunk Island and Mission Beach. Two years previous to that I had walked with some of my family and friends from the northern end of Hinchinbrook to the southern end.  We spoke about this on the paddling trip because everyone had previously walked the length of Hinchinbrook Island from north to south.

Walking Hinchinbrook Island

We did the walk in four days which meant carrying all your camping gear and food for the duration. We had planned our trip for the September school holidays so that my son Matthew could come with us. Our walk was a real family affair. My son Matthew, My sister Yvonne and my mother Bev, and two of her friends Mareen and Francis. Because we wanted to go in the school holidays that meant booking the walk 12 months in advance. There is only 40 walkers allowed on the Thorsborne Trail at any one time and September is a very popular time to go.

To start the walk from the northern end the easiest way is catch the Cardwell water taxi, which drops you off in one of the inlets in Missionary Bay where a broad walk takes you through to Ramsay Bay. Ramsay Bay has a long sandy beach which was a great way to start the walk.  From There it is a fairly rough climb up the ridge to Nina Peak lookout and the views are well worth the climb. The Thorsborne Trail is managed under the minimal impact bushwalking and no-trace camping ethics. The trail can vary dramatically over the space of an hour of walking, from a long sandy beach to mangrove areas, tropical rain forest, rock jumping through a creek, to climbing up steep loose rocky ridge.

Each of the designated campsites have tent areas, picnic tables, toilets, and metal food bins. There are fawn-footed melomys (Melomys cervinipes) and the white-tailed rat (Uromys caudimaculatus) that lives on the island and these macupials can chew through anything to get to food. If you can not fit your napsack or food containers in one of the food bins, hang it off a rope in between the trees,(not in your tent). When they aren’t eating camper’s food, they chew through coconut shells to eat the meat out of the coconut. They must have very strong teeth.

Although the Thorsborne Trail is well mark and worn by regular walkers you have to have a reasonable level of fitness especially carrying a pack with four days of provisions. At the Southern end of the island you have to be at the appropriate spot and time to catch another water taxi back into Lucinda, where a bus can take you back to your cars at Cardwell.

A very good description of the walk can be found at the Queensland Government website.

Paddling Hinchinbrook Island

Beach Launching

Launching from the beach

For the paddling trip, we started from the Southern end at Lucinda. This is because with a predominant South easterly predicted for the duration of the trip we wanted to use the breeze to push us along and hopefully use the sails on our kayaks. We didn’t have to wait for the Water Taxi just the tide. It was quite shallow crossing a couple sand bars and we had to get out of our kayaks and walk some of the way crossing the channel from Lucinda to the southern end of the island. The first couple of nights we were staying in the same camp sites as the bush walkers except in the reverse to what I had done the walk a couple years previously. We were finished the paddling each day by lunch time so we had the afternoon free to do what ever we wanted. On a couple of these afternoons we did part of the walk to places of interest. The first afternoon we walked the Thorsborne trail from out campsite at Sunken Reef Bay about 45minutes to Mulligan Falls. There we enjoyed a swim in the pool below the falls before we made the walk back to our campsite. Another afternoon we walked to Nina Peak Lookout. Other afternoons I did some fishing. So not only did we see Hinchinbrook Island from a different angle during the day but we were also able to see the best of the trail when we wanted.

The biggest advantage I believe of sea kayaking is you don’t actually carry your camping gear and therefore you are able to take a few extra luxuries because you are not so restricted by weight. Another experience that I enjoyed was paddling close along the cliff faces as the waves pounded and rebounded off the cliffs.

On the fourth day of our paddle we passed Ramsay Bay(the start of the bush walk) and continued onto the northern end of the island to Banchee Beach. This is a beach which is not part of the Thorsborne Trail so we were again seeing part of Hinchinbrook that the bushwalkers don’t see. The next three day we left Hnchinbrook Island and headed further north to Goold Island for a night and then onto Coombe Island in the Family group, then past Bederra Island to Dunk Island, then the final day into Mission Beach.

Do I look the part

Mark Grundy and Hinchinbrook Island

Comparing Walking to Paddling

I do enjoy both Bushwaking and Sea Kayaking and I don’t believe I am being biased when I say I think sea kayaking has definite advantages over bushwalking.


  • Sea kayaking you get a unique view of the island but still are able to check out the best of the trail.
  • You are able to carry more gear and therefore a couple more luxuries
  • There is a better opportunity to see sea life like sea turtles and dolphins and dugongs.
  • Less energy because you can take advantage of tides and wind to help carry you along.
  • There is a certain amount of Adrenalin involved paddle in and out through the surf and along the cliff faces.


  • If the weather comes up too bad you may have to wait out until the weather clears.
  • Unpacking the kayak each day to carry it up the beach as far as 80 meters at low tide, a bit of extra effort.

Either by land or sea it is well worth the effort to check out Hinchnbrook island and the Thorsborne Trail.

Rocky Coastline

Comments on this entry are closed.


Wallace Paris October 25, 2011 at 9:56 am

Hello.This post was really fascinating, particularly since I was investigating for thoughts on this issue last Saturday.

Constance October 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

It’s about time somneoe wrote about this.

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