What to pack when hiking Hinchinbrook Island’s Thorsborne Trail
Rugged landscapes, waterfalls, steep lookouts and rich rainforests, all within a World Heritage Listed island – this is all in a day hiking Hinchinbrook Island’s Thorsborne Trail.
Voted by Australian Geographic as one of the top camping sites in Australia, this remote 32-kilometre trek is as off the grid as possible, with you and only 39 others permitted on the island at one time.
So where do you even start when it comes to packing?
We asked a ranger who grew up hiking Hinchinbrook to give us some tips to ensure the hike is as all about peace, not missing pieces.
If you’re looking at how to hike the Thorsborne trail, head to this post.
First things first when hiking Hinchinbrook Island: you’re going to need a proper backpack. You don’t necessarily need the bag from your Europe backpacking days – you can go something a bit smaller this time round. You’ll need at least 40L of capacity and plenty of outer pockets to keep frequently used items handy.
Make life easier and stash a number of bags and covers for the walk – one cover for your 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 woah to go.
You can go quite light on toiletries, which is a real space saver. With no showers on the island, embrace the caveman or cavewoman look and skip packing shampoo, conditioner, or any hair product for that matter. Just 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. 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, chocolate, jerky, protein bars – anything 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 hydration pack to take while walking and an additional two 1L water bottles to use in the camp when you pull up for the night.
You’ll be filling up your water bottles from waterfalls, so forward plan your next top-up. Drinking locations are all mentioned in our complete guide to the Thorsborne Trail.
Camping, not glamping equipment
You’re carrying your home for a few days so a lightweight, easy to set-up and completely waterproof tent is the way to go. 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.
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.
If ever there was an occasion for sensible footwear, hiking Hinchinbrook Island 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.