Travel and transfer logistics for the Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island.

What you need to know…

  • Your choice of how to get to the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island will have a major impact on your enjoyment of the entire trip… and the quality of your memories!
  • Cheaper and easier to travel to Lucinda via Townsville (over Cardwell via Cairns)
  • You travel no further when making Lucinda your start/finish point (actually, slightly less)
  • You see more natural beauty and enjoy it more
  • Increase your safety and comfort with thorough preparation info and support given by Absolute North Charters’ extensive “local knowledge”

At Absolute North Charters we have been getting a lot of enquiries from HIKERS/BUSHWALKERS about actually getting to HINCHINBROOK ISLAND to HIKE the THORSBORNE TRAIL from major cities around the country.

With that in mind, we think it would be beneficial to all potential HIKERS to try to fill in the gaps concerning airports, shuttle bus services and FERRY SERVICES that exist to help.


There are two airports in the region that THORSBORNE HIKERS can fly into that helps connect them to HINCHINBROOK ISLAND.

Townsville airport is by far the closest to HINCHINBROOK ISLAND with a drive distance of 135.4 km and a drive time of 1.40 hours.
This obviously has all of the services you need connecting you to LUCINDA which is the closest port to HINCHINBROOK ISLAND and the THORSBORNE TRAIL.
The drive north from Townsville is not interrupted by other small centres as you drive along the Bruce Highway which keeps you cruising at 100kmh.

Shuttle buses from LUCINDA and INGHAM will pick you up and drive you right to your departure point or accommodation in LUCINDA from the TOWNSVILLE AIRPORT or you can hire a car from any of the major rental companies and self-drive to LUCINDA. (This option is utilised by HIKERS that wish to visit other parks in the area after they have returned from the Thorsborne Trail on HINCHINBROOK ISLAND.) If you are self driving, keep in mind that Lucinda is only 19.5km off the highway, not 35 which is a 15 minute drive from the turn off of the Bruce Highway, that turn off is 8km north of Ingham, so from Ingham to Lucinda is a 20 minute drive, not 35 which is what is being told to hikers from other parties. In fact, you only make 2 turns from Ingham to Lucinda, a right and then a left at Halifax onto Lucinda road.
No ‘zigzagging’ at all.

Land Transfers for Hinchinbrook Island Visitors

For the most affordable Townsville Airport shuttle bus transfers to/from Lucinda. . .

. . . please contact John directly by email



It is on the north side of the city and the first 30km to Gordonvale is at 80kmh  (but much slower during peak traffic times!), also, there are many small regional centres that pull you back to 80kmh, and your only option is to hire a car and drive down yourself as no Shuttle buses run from Cardwell or Ingham to Cairns.

Flights to Cairns may be slightly cheaper for Sydney or Melbourne hikers during the summer months but they certainly jam up the prices during the Tourism season in our winter months, which is the busy season for (HIKERS) to Hinchinbrook Island’s THORSBORNE TRAIL.  This is because Cairns is a large Tourism destination while Townsville is not, you will find better deals into Townsville during our peak Tourism months (June to September) Getting in and booking early is the key!

If you are flying in from the South East of the state or Northern NSW, Brisbane Airport has 10 flights daily to Townsville, so do your research.  Coolangatta is another Airport that might be of service to you.
This will give you less travel time for your meeting the Thorsborne TRAIL on HINCHINBROOK ISLAND




26-person-boat for ferry to Hinchinbrook Island

Purpose-built for local conditions, our 35-foot, 26-passenger ferry will get you to Hinchinbrook Island (and back) safely and in comfort.

Ok, so we have given you a few facts and contacts above to get you to LUCINDA or Cardwell, the departure and return points for Absolute North Charters for people hiking the THORSBORNE TRAIL, HINCHINBROOK ISLAND.

There seems to be some misinformation being given to potential HIKERS seeking knowledge about certain aspects of the transfers pertaining to distance of transfers and the time it takes.  We understand that the reasons for this are purely profit based as those making these false assertions go on to use this misinformation to charge higher prices.

In this section we will point out some mistruths about the Transfers and show you with maps the actual distances and time it takes.
There is now no need to use a land based transfer (shuttle) to get you, the HIKER from one end of the THORSBORNE TRAIL, Hinchinbrook Island departure point on the mainland to the other. Those days are gone and they are gone because we weighed up the logistics that face our HIKERS and decided that LEAVING from LUCINDA to transfer you to RAMSAY BAY was both cost effective and logistically smarter and adds to your experience when visiting our wonderful Hinchinbrook Island rather than using a shuttle bus. The fact that other operators have copied our logic only reinforces its validity.
The fact that you do this transfer at the beginning of your experience with Absolute North Charters is not something that just happened, it actually is practical logistics and the fact that we know how you will feel when you have FINISHED the HIKE.
It also showcases the Hinchinbrook Channel in the beautiful light of a morning run which is something you cannot get anywhere else.

Morning run up the Hinchinbrook Channel, between the mainland and Hinchinbrook Island

Morning run up the Hinchinbrook Channel, between the mainland and Hinchinbrook Island

Morning run up the Hinchinbrook Channel, between the mainland and Hinchinbrook Island

Morning run up the Hinchinbrook Channel, between the mainland and Hinchinbrook Island, from Lucinda to Ramsay Bay

Morning run up the Hinchinbrook Channel, between the mainland and Hinchinbrook Island

Morning run up the Hinchinbrook Channel, between the mainland and Hinchinbrook Island, from Lucinda to Ramsay Bay

You see, if you left from Cardwell, you need to go back to Cardwell at the back end of your hike  So, if you end your Hike at George Point, you still have a big 44 kilometre Transfer to do through the HINCHINBROOK ISLAND CHANNEL or by shuttle bus along the highway to Cardwell.
If you leave from LUCINDA to go to Ramsay Bay at the beginning of your hike you would have already done that transfer at the start of the hike, you also would have done the distance from Cardwell to Ramsay bay on the getting-on transfer on your first day.

This return transfer to Lucinda is a total of 78.7 kilometres with a combined time for both transfers (to the north and return from the south to Lucinda)  takes 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Click here to see current prices
Remember to click on the plus sign on the right to obtain all prices of that particular transfer.

If you leave from Cardwell, below are the routes you do…

As you can see, although your first day transfer onto Ramsay Bay boardwalk is shorter, you still have to return to Cardwell at the end of your hike from George Point.  And that Cardwell transfer has a combined total of 78.73 kilometres.

So, there you have it. YOU DO NOT TRAVEL ANY MORE DISTANCE WHEN LEAVING FROM LUCINDA. You just do the big transfer at the start of the hike, and get it out of the way.  This allows you to get back to the mainland quicker from George Point on the south end of Hinchinbrook Island to Lucinda, which gives you more time to organise yourself for your return trip to your destination that evening.

As a life-long hiker of the Thorsborne Trail, I can tell you, “When I’m done, I’m done!”  The last thing I want is a long return transfer from Hinchinbrook Island.

It is much better to enjoy the inside of Hinchinbrook Island Channel at the start of your hike when you are first embarking on your adventure, not when you are tired and in need of some creature comforts.
If anyone tells you the transfer from Lucinda to Ramsay Bay is 60 miles or 68 miles one lady was told, disregard it.
To put that distance into perspective compared to the actual distance we do is easy.
68 miles would be leaving Lucinda and driving north past Cardwell, past Dunk Island, past North Mission beach, past Kurramine beach until finally we would be just south of Innisfail north of Mourilyn Harbour!
That would take just shy of 3.5 hours!
You need to do your research to take advantage of our local knowledge.


I mentioned earlier about logistics and apart from it being more beneficial to Hikers to travel through the HINCHINBROOK ISLAND Channel, there are other reasons as well.
I come from here, and without any reservations, I can say that for a boat business to weigh up options as to what will suit best as an operational port, Lucinda is head and shoulders above the rest.  In this case, Lucinda does not have tidal restrictions compared to Cardwell.
For that reason, we have more water for longer on any given day in Lucinda and for a transfer business to not take advantage of these undeniable facts would be not be putting our clients interest front and centre.
Everything we do is logistically worked out to help you the Hiker get on and off the Island in the most convenient cost effective way, including when we can bring you back to the mainland.
So when you see the variations of pickup times between 2 separate transfer businesses, it is not because of the Mulligan Creek crossing or access to Lucinda, it is because Cardwell is not optimal to transfer from George Point because you are being picked up from George point on a low tide.
The photos below tell the story.

Cardwell Boat ramp at Low Tide.

Cardwell Boat ramp at Low Tide.

Lucinda low tide - perfect place to return from Hinchinbrook Island

Lucinda at low tide

You will save money with Absolute North Charters because logistically, we need to drive past George Point on the way back to Lucinda.
Our price from Lucinda to George Point and return is consistent with our logistics which we pass onto you in better pricing.

Useful links: Ph: 07 4777 8213 (Hiker-friendly Accommodation) Ph: 07 4777 8103 (Hiker-friendly Accommodation) (Shuttle transfers to and from Townsville Airport, Bookings for the Trail and Transfers and Accomodation)

Feel free to call me on 0419712577 for more details, or just head on over to the booking page.
Absolute North Charters.

Hinchinbrook Island