What to pack for a Hinchinbrook Island hiking adventure
Where do you even start when packing for a 32-kilometre hiking trek where you have to carry your own food, clothing and shelter for four days?
We’re talking about the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island, a wilderness hike that gives new meaning to taking a self-contained holiday.
Voted by Australian Geographic as one of the top camping sites in Australia, the island is renowned for its untouched beauty, but also laying down the packing gauntlet.
We asked a ranger who grew up hiking Hinchy to give us some tips to help us get out of this packing pickle:
Just like Dora, you’re going to need a proper backpack if you are going to cart your life around for four days. Not necessarily the bag from your Europe backpacking days – you can go something a bit smaller this time round. You’ll need at least 10L of capacity and plenty of outer pockets to keep frequently used items handy.
Make life easier and stash a number of plastic bags for the walk – one big plastic bag to store your big backpack in the off-chance of rain, a few snaplock bags for technology essentials and a strong rubbish bag to cart your food wrappers from woe to go.
You can go quite light on toiletries, which is a real space saver. With no showers on the island, embrace the caveman look and skip packing shampoo, conditioner or any hair product for that matter. But don’t forget mosquito repellent and sunscreen – despite the absence of coconut cocktails and hammocks, Hinchinbrook is a tropical island after all.
Hand sanitiser is an absolute must because real toilets are few and far between. In fact, in most instances, the closest real loo will be back on the mainland.
Long sleeves or short sleeves? It’s entirely up to you, although most people tackle Hinchy in shorts all year round. Even though it’s about packing lightly – there’s nothing like clean undies and socks to give you that fresh feeling even if you have to recycle the rest. There’s no need for a heavy jumper, but you’ll want to be prepped if the temperature drops with a waterproof jacket that will warm you up as well.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your swimmers to jump into the crystal-clear creeks and waterfalls. You’ll be dying for a dip after hiking all day!
Hydration and snacks to prevent ‘hanger’
Walking up to 10.5 kilometers a day up and down boulders, through creeks and scaling cliffs is ‘hanger’-inducing in anyone’s books. Pack lots of snacks – fruit, choccies and lollies – to get you through sugar-slumps. You won’t feel like dusting off the camp cooker every time you get peckish, so instant satisfaction is what you are going for with snacks.
Depending on what time of year you plan to travel, you’ll need to scale up and down your water consumption. For autumn, we recommend a 3L CamelBak to take while walking and an additional 2 x 1L water bottles to use in the camp when you pull up for the night.
There are taps to fill up your drinking water on the island, which are well signed, so you can forward plan your next top-up.
Camping, not glamping equipment
Believe it or not, that little parcel of grey synthetic is a pop-up, two-man tent. It weighs as much as a baby caterpillar and is completely waterproof. Basic hiking tents aren’t expensive, so it’s worth investing in a small tent to complete the walk.
You’ll want a sleeping mat to put a bit of cushioning between you and the ground. Hot tip: Purchase a three-quarter size to save space in your backpack as your traipse around the island.
Temperatures on the island don’t dip below 13 degrees Celsius, even in the coldest winter months, so it’s not critical that you have a thermal sleeping bag. What is important is that you have a compact sleeping bag. Size matters on Hinchy.
A torch or headlamp will provide the ambient lighting you need at night – powered campsites are a mainland luxury.
A camp kitchen
Dehydrated food… don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Back Country is apparently the best brand and with flavours like chana masala, roast chicken, nasi goreng, and spaghetti bolognese, we can see why people rave. Pack enough sachets to cover your breakfast, lunch and dinner during your time on the island and throw in a few apple crumbles for good measure. We reckon the crumble is worth reheating for the family after a Sunday roast, it’s that tasty.
Bottled beverages are out of the question since you are carrying everything on foot. We got around this dilemma with cask wine, which once finished, transformed nicely into a self-inflated silver foil pillow. Just like a university party, the goon bag was a crowd pleaser after a day’s hike.
If ever there was an occasion for sensible footwear, this is it. You’ll want a pair of sturdy, reliable hiking boots. There’s no point breaking them in on the island – it will be too late if they are uncomfortable and give you blisters. Once you pull up for the day, you’ll want rubber thongs, sandals or those questionable Crocs to give your feet some fresh air.
It wouldn’t be camping without someone forgetting a critical item. No matter what it is, just try to find the funny side and enjoy the rest of your hiking adventure. After all, it’s what we forget to pack that makes the best holiday memories. Here’s looking at you, toothbrush!