The track up to the Cradle Mountain Plateau in Tasmania is a bit tough. There is a short section of almost vertical climbing over rocky terrain. There is even a chain embedded in the rock to help. Of course, adding a 20kg back does make it a bit more challenging!
Sue finds this bit the most challenging of the whole Overland Track, and studiously avoids it on each trip by heading up “The Horse Track”
Gauging the difficulty of a hiking track is very subjective and a LOT depends on the individual’s fitness, previous experience, aversion to heights or scrambling etc.
Compared to hiking in Tasmania, The Thorsborne Trail is not difficult BUT it has the following “features” that can make it interesting.
It can be really hot and humid and it saps your strength
There are many exposed sections of the track that are in full sunlight for much of the day.
We went there thinking “tropical paradise,” but reckon ROUGHLY 40% of the walking is inland and quite open, exposed and rocky. The sun belts down and it feels like you are walking in the desert.
Hiking one of the beaches – Thorsborne Trail
Part of the reason it may be defined as “difficult” is that the track is rough, narrow and rocky in places BUT no worse (by far) than the track up to Marions Lookout in Tasmania. i.e. it seemed to us to be a normal bush walking track.
As Parks Queensland state on their site: the Thorsborne Trail is not a graded or hardened walking track and in some areas is rough and difficult to traverse.
River crossings -There are many stories of people getting into serious trouble trying to cross swollen rivers on the Trail. Basically they did not make the sensible decision to wait it out. Of course this is very weather dependent. When we did it none of the rivers were more than a foot deep!!
Did we mention the heat? Distances each day are quite manageable but the heat can drain you.
Sunrise Hinchinbrook island
Of course you can get around all these things and enjoy the walk. It is well worth doing!
Get fit before you leave. Every km you walk at home will have a great impact on your ability to walk the track
Your pack weight should not be too bad as you don’t need cold weather gear or heavy sleeping bags (did I mention it is hot?)
Get away early before the heat of the day hits
Carry (and drink) plenty of water and keep drinking and topping it up when you can.
Have long breaks and a swim where possible to cool down. There are plenty of fantastic swimming holes along the way. We ended up just jumping in to the waterholes in our hiking gear, they dried off quickly
Wear good hiking footwear. We made the wrong decision and wore runners rather than normal hiking boots/shoes with heavy soles. The track is quite rough in places so you need good protection for your feet (especially the soles).
Make sure you have lightweight long-sleeved pants and a shirt for in the evening. The locals we met always put them on with socks to protect themselves from sandflies during hiking.
Take a really good repellent or use the Dettol & baby oil mix we suggest (OR both) Those little suckers can be really annoying.
In summary, we went into it thinking it was going to be an easy walk. At the time we thought it was moderately hard BUT the main reasons were the heat and sore feet from walking in the wrong shoes.
The positives FAR outweigh the negatives.The scenery is spectacular, the waterfalls and swimming holes just magic, and the beaches out of this world! We had a GREAT family holiday.
If you are worried about slowing up the group, leave first and get some distance behind you in the morning. They can pack up! Leave early from the lunch break and head off. It is well marked and pretty hard to get lost. This can take the mental pressure off you to keep up and it is really nice hiking alone sometimes.
View of Zoe Falls – Hinchinbrook Island
The final piece of advice is to not make it a race during hiking. Take your time, plan a rest day, just go from one camping spot to the next. Even by stopping for a couple of swims on the way, you are still into camp very early afternoon. There is plenty to see and do around each campsite!
We hope you decide to go and would love to hear how it turns out!