Hinchinbrook Island by sea kayak

G Magazine

With its sheer granite cliffs and impenetrable tropical jungle, Hinchinbrook Island is an awesome destination, best explored by sea.

Kayaks on Hinchinbrook Island

Travelling by sea means unfettered access to the sandy beaches along Hinchinbrook Island's coastline.

Credit: Louise Southerden

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At first glance, Hinchinbrook Island is a wild and daunting place. Australia's largest island National Park is more than 30 km from end to end, almost 20 km wide, and uninhabited by humans except for a small eco-resort at its northern tip.

Its granite mountains are more than 250 million years old; its interior boasts undisturbed valleys lorded over by 1000-metre peaks that would look more at home in Tasmania than far north Queensland; most of it remains untracked and largely inaccessible.

Even Arthur and Margaret Thorsborne, the conservationist couple after whom the island's main walking track is named, spent more time exploring the island by sea than on foot, sailing their yacht from Mission Beach as often as they could throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

"Viewed from the sea...the coastline is formidable, with rocky cliff faces and headlands softened here and there by long curving beaches of white sand," they wrote in their book Hinchinbrook Island: The land time forgot.

"From sea to mountain top is only a short distance, but in this steep rise are awe-inspiring precipices, some with shining streaks of waterfalls plunging into mysterious, deeply shaded valleys."

In other words, Hinchinbrook is tailor-made for what we were about to do: spend a week sea kayaking along its eastern shore.

Amongst the wilderness

The island's east-facing coast is scalloped with sandy beaches protected from Coral Sea swells by the Barrier Reef, sheltered coves that face different directions mean there's always somewhere calm to land, and the prevailing southerly winds during the May-October kayaking season are a blessing when you're paddling north, as we were.

Each morning we'd wake up on a deserted beach, set off early to make the most of a glassy sea and paddle along at the pace of a stroll, mesmerised by the view that changed with the light and the swiftly moving clouds.

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