After losing their way on Hinchinbrook Island, THERES MITSCHERLING and her friend had the time of their lives.

My friend and I had been planning to do the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island for ages.

It’s a three-day hike, covering 32km of medium-to-hard terrain. Since there’s no food supply on the island, we had to pack our portions wisely; ensuring our backpacks weren’t too heavy. Although there is fresh water on the island, you should take your own as some of the creeks are dry.

Our adventure started on Friday morning in Halifax harbour. At 7am we jumped aboard a little dinghy which brought us to South Hinchinbrook Island. The first two days went really well. We managed to walk almost 30km and felt like heroes.

Laughing kookaburras

Next morning the kookaburras were laughing at us as we packed up our tent, clothes and gas cooker. We had only 2.5km to cover in three hours. It should have been easy. We left camp and after a short walk over the ridge, Ramsey Beach was already in sight, on the other side of some headlands.

But we couldn’t find any trail markers along the beach. There was only one option… going over the rocky boulders at the headlands. We set out hopping with our backpacks over small
red rusty coloured boulders.

Then we had big boulders the size of a car standing in our way. What do we do? Climb the boulders like mountain climbers with our heavy backpacks, risking broken bones or possible death? To our right was the ocean with the waves crashing over the rocks.

To our left was a steep climb up into a scrubby hill. After a short discussion, we decided we had to take the scrubby steep hill to the left of us. It was very difficult going.

We made our way up the steep rocky cliff, clinging to small trees on the way up, our backpacks getting caught in the branches and roots. “This would make a nice home for tiger snakes,” said my friend.

Finally we stumbled across the real track again. What a relief.We had lost time, but we still had more than an hour left to catch the ferry. As we were walking along Ramsey Beach we got really excited about taking a good hot shower. Ramsey Beach is a 9km white sand beach with a slight curve to the right. After walking for some time and not having found a sign for the pick up point, we became worried again. We continued along the beach… all the way to the end, by which time we were exhausted.

One thing was certain, we had missed the ferry. We were running low on water, having abandoned a water bottle earlier. The sun was beating down on us. In all our excitement we’d forgotten to put on sunscreen.

Footprints in the sand

As we were walking back along the beach we saw footprints in the sand. We were both wearing our boots, so the footprints weren’t ours.

The footprints lead us to a timber-floored boat ramp. The ferry was gone, but at least we knew where to go tomorrow.

It was 2pm. We walked back to where we started that morning: thirsty, very tired, with blistered feet and sunburn.

We filled the water bottle at the lagoon near the campsite and cracked oysters off the rocks. Out of the turmoil came the best part of the trip: we now had lots of time to relax, enjoy the wilderness and have a laugh about what happened.

The next day we boarded the ferry back to civilisation. Now that we are in the rat race again we often look back and laugh about those moments on Hinchinbrook Island.