I’m starting this journey on a Greyhound bus travelling along the coastline of Far North Queensland, from Cairns to Townsville. It was a journey of five hours, passing banana plantations, spotting Cassowaries darting into the rainforest and soaking up all the views of tropical Australian life along the way. A five hour coach trip would normally fill me with dread but this was an adventure, with scenery totally different to what I’m used to in England.
About half way along the journey, I remember staring out of the window and getting the briefest of glimpses of the most beautiful place I think I’d ever seen. I had no idea where it was – it was pre the era of Google maps on your mobile phone. I just knew we hadn’t long left the bus stop in a small town of Cardwell. The view literally took my breath away – winding rivers, lush rainforest and a mysterious island jutting into the Coral Sea – one that you’d almost expect to appear in Jurassic Park!
It was only on return to the UK that I looked up where it was I’d seen – the hill inlet overlooking Hinchinbrook Island. I vowed that day that one day I would return to that view.
Six years later, I had the opportunity to travel back. My friends from the UK had relocated to Townsville and with three weeks booked off work I decided to visit them and make it my mission to see that view again!
Having based myself in Townsville, I hired a car and journeyed up the Bruce Highway northbound, this time armed with my trusty (and newly acquired) DSLR camera. After a couple of hours I spotted the signs indicating a parking spot with a view – there it was… that view…! I literally spent ages there that afternoon just admiring it, it seemed to bring out my inner geographer. This time, I planned on exploring it further and booked myself on a boat trip with Hinchinbrook Island Cruises that would take me the next day over to Hinchinbrook Island.
That evening, I rested up at the Cardwell Beachfront Motel, overlooking the sea. I watched the sun setting behind the mountains and was excited for the next day.
Heading down to the marina, I was joined by a couple of other day trippers and a few people geared up with backpacks and hiking kit – those that were lucky enough to be embarking on the Thorsborne Trail – a multi-day walking route that takes you across the island. Unfortunately, I only had the time for the day trip. That said, on the journey out to the island we spotted a pair of dugongs swimming around as well as a sea turtle and I was excited just to see what else I would discover
Approaching Hinchinbrook, the boat cruised slowly past the mangroves as it wound its way up one of the creeks to the docking point. Disembarking here, myself and some of the other day trippers made our way up the sandy path to a large beach as the hikers began their own adventures. The boat’s skipper doubled up as our tour guide and told us that only 40 people per day were allowed to be on the island. It felt like such a privilege to be there, to be able to walk along the long stretch of sand, to spot the intricate shells on the shoreline and to delve into the rainforest. Even the thought of nearby saltwater crocodiles didn’t fill me with fear, it really was my place of tranquillity.
The usual blue sky, had turned a grey colour – something that ordinarily I might dread, however the low cloud hung around Mount Bowen, the highest point of the island and gave it an even more magical feel, it made the photos very atmospheric too!
Our time on the island was over quite soon, it was time to return back to Cardwell. The journey back to the marina wasn’t quite so eventful, however as we came in to moor up, the skipper pointed out a pair of eyes peeking out of the muddy water, one of Cardwell’s resident crocs! I was informed that this one was only a couple of metres long, as opposed to ‘Bismark’ the 6-metre saltie that can often be spotted swimming past the motel I was staying at.
This time I vowed that one day I’d return to do the Thorsborne route, and to not only see ‘that view’ again but to spend more time in this beautiful place.