Get to Hinchinbrook Island. Hinchinbrook Island is situated on the north-east coast of North Queensland. Thanks to the preserved natural heritage, the island attracts a lot of people including hikers almost year-round. Being a tropical island, winter offering the most comfortable weather sees a surge of hikers.
Absolute North Charters gets asked regularly how to actually get to Hinchinbrook Island. And since we are always happy to answer your queries, we figured a proper write-up would be appreciated by travellers visiting our site looking for suggestions and direction.
In this guide, we will answer the concerns regarding airports, shuttle bus services, and boat services.
Hinchinbrook Island at a Glance
You first need to reach either Lucinda or Cardwell to get to Hinchinbrook Island. Lucinda is on the south of the island while Cardwell sits near the north of the island. The two towns are connected through the Bruce Highway. Ferry service to the island is available from both town ports.
But before getting into that let’s talk about Airports closest to the ports.
Airports Near Hinchinbrook Island
There are two airports near the Hinchinbrook region connecting flyers to the island.
The closest to Hinchinbrook Island is the Townsville airport on the southern side of it. From Townsville airport, you reach Lucinda, the nearest port to the island, via the Bruce Highway. This route is about 135.4 km – a 1-hour 40-minute drive towards north from Townsville airport. Maintaining about 100km drive speed is easy since the route through Bruce Highway is uninterrupted.
From the airport, bus shuttle services to Lucinda are available. This is the most affordable option for people who just want to reach their accommodation in Lucinda. Go to our ‘links and resources’ section on our website for contacts.
However, if you are planning to visit other parks in the vicinity other than just Hinchinbrook island, then hiring a car is a better choice – considering the economic, convenience, and flexibility value together. You can hire a car from any of the major car rental companies in Townsville and self-drive to Lucinda.
Here’s a note for people choosing to drive to Lucinda –
Ingham to Lucinda will take about 20 minutes. You should take a right turn off the Bruce Highway north of Ingham, (about 8 km), and then take a left turn at Halifax onto Lucinda Road. Lucinda is actually just 19.5 km off the Highway which takes about 15-17 minutes by car. Some agencies have given inaccurate information to hikers that from Ingham to Lucinda takes 35 minutes.
The second nearest airport is Cairns airport located further north of Hinchinbrook Island. Therefore, to get to Hinchinbrook Island you will reach Cardwell before Lucinda, however, when you finish at the end of the trail at George Point, you will still need to do a 1 hour and 10 minute transfer back to Cardwell so we still maintain that driving to Lucinda is a better option logistically as you will then only be 10 minutes from your vehicle. Leave your car closest to where you finish the hike! The benefits are self explanatory for doing this.
Now, if you land at the Cairns airport then the only choice you have is to hire a car for self-driving as no shuttle service from Ingham or Cardwell is financially viable. This stretch is comparatively busier till Gordonvale with a distance of 30 km. This will set your car speed to 80 kph at max, and less during peak hours. After passing Gordonvale, you are on the Bruce Highway proper but small regional townships along the Highway will reduce your speed regularly.
Bonus Tip – Brisbane Airport
People coming from the South-East part of Queensland or North coast of New South Wales can reach Townsville directly from nearby Brisbane airport as it operates 10 direct flights to Townsville airport daily.
Another ‘nearby’ airport that may offer a direct flight facility is Coolangatta airport.
You have multiple options depending on where you are traveling from. So thorough research will save you money.
Get to Hinchinbrook Island by Boat
This is where Absolute North Charters comes in. We get you to the island from Lucinda through the Hinchinbrook Channel
There are two points on the island where we drop off and pick up. These are Ramsay Bay Boardwalk at the north end and George Point to the south.
While George Point is 4.37 km from Lucinda, Ramsay Bay is 74.34 km. Compared to this Cardwell is 35 km and 43.73 km away from each respectively. Though it doesn’t seem much of a difference, it is actually! The logistics of getting off the island are just as important as getting on.
From our experience, we know that it’s easier to cover longer distances when you have your energy reserve full. Because at the end of the hike you are ready to come off and should cover the minimal distance. This option, as per our research and years of experience, is logistically sound, easier on your pocket, and very rewarding.
Nonetheless, we understand Cardwell will seem more convenient to people coming in from Cairns but be advised, we only display our Lucinda pickup time from George Point and a Cardwell return will be either much later or much earlier because of tidal contraints at Cardwell.
Note that you can hike the Thorsborne trail from north to south or south to north. Just plan accordingly and leave your vehicle at the port closest to where you finish the hike. Walking north to south, we think you should depart Lucinda and if you are walking south to north, you should depart Cardwell.
For further information, you may check out our other blog posts or directly reach out to us.
Please see all our boat trips and prices on our Prices, Book & Pay page.