Just over an hour’s drive north of Townsville, Hinchinbrook is the gateway to the wet tropics. The shire is surrounded by ancient tropical rainforest, rugged tropical islands and the Great Barrier Reef, and features stunning wilderness, gourmet food, and of course, fishing. Just a stone’s throw from the mainland lies the uninhabited, World Heritage listed Hinchinbrook Island, which teems with wildlife, and is renowned for its biodiversity.
A full spectrum of fishing opportunities await the avid angler with an hour's travel from Ingham. Try your hand at beach fishing off the pristine Hinchinbrook coastline, or drop in a line from Lucinda and Dungeness fishing wharfs. Alternatively, take a heli-fishing tour up into the Herbert River Gorge for remote area sweetwater fishing, or try for barramundi in the tranquil waters of the Hinchinbrook Channel. You can also set pots for local mud crabs, or enjoy a day of classic blue water fishing on the Great Barrier Reef.
“Of course fishing is a large drawcard for many visitors to the region,” says Hinchinbrook Shire Councillor Mary Brown.
“And whether visitors have a boat or not, they can still find innumerable places to throw a line in, relax and enjoy some serenity within the stunning surroundings of the shire.”
Whether it’s a single line thrown casually from a secluded beach, a few rods from a tinny in a tranquil sheltered creek, or a more adventurous fishing excursion in the wide open waters of the coral sea, there’s plenty of bounty in Hinchinbrook and its surrounds. Expect to find Australian favourites on the angling menu such as barramundi, mangrove jack, coral trout, red emperor and mud crabs.
“Being a professional fishing guide is my passion, and I believe in creating experiences that people talk about for years to come,” says Todd Everleigh, who owns Hinchinbrook fishing charter company Crackajack.
“I love showcasing the diversity of world class fishing adventures, all accessible right here at our doorstep. I’m here for the first-class fishing and lifestyle.”
There are five beautiful beaches to explore in the Hinchinbrook region, and each has something a little different to offer. Lucinda is an excellent destination for anglers, photographers and families alike. Backed by three miles of deep natural mangrove-covered tidal flats, Lucinda is almost an island unto itself, with a long sandy coastline, and the scenic backdrop of Hinchinbrook Island. Lucinda Jetty is the longest service jetty in the southern hemisphere, at 5.76km long, and with 660 concrete and steel pylons.
Just south of Lucinda, Forrest Beach is another spectacular, long sandy beach, with a backdrop of tropical islands. Better still, Forrest Beach Hotel offers camping sites right on the water’s edge, and vehicles are allowed to drive on to the beach. Taylors Beach also has nearby camping facilities at Taylors Beach Holiday Park.
Cheryl and Greg Haupt, who first visited Hinchinbrook in 2016, and have since decided to move there, say they moved to the area for the beach and fishing culture.
“You’ve got a beautiful stretch of beach from Forrest Beach to Taylors Beach, and unlike other councils, you’re allowed to drive on the beach here, which is great,” they said.
From Lucinda, you can catch a ferry to Yanks Jetty on Orpheus Island, and Zoe Bay, on Hinchinbrook Island. From Zoe Bay, a short 900m walk from the beach leads to a sparkling freshwater pool at the base of Zoe Falls, for safe (but cool) swimming.
NATURE AND WILDLIFE
Hinchinbrook is awash with marine life, to be seen from above and below the water. The Palm Islands, which are a short ferry ride away from Lucinda, are a hotspot for humpback whales and other marine life. Townsville Whale Watching provides whale watching tours led by marine biologists, which bring you up close and personal with humpback whales. Tours also feature snorkelling. Diving too, is a popular way to experience Hinchinbrook’s underwater world. Remote Area Dive provide diving and snorkelling tours for all experience levels.
Hinchinbrook’s TYTO Wetlands Centre is also a wildlife haven. The 110-hectare rehabilitated wetland area is home to unique flora and fauna including more than 240 species of birds and many agile wallabies, and includes extensive walking tracks, bird hides and viewing platforms. There are plenty of opportunities to meander along modern architectural walkways, walk through wooded parklands, and scale the 11m observation tower for a bird’s eye view of their surrounds. The TYTO Wetlands are open daily and free to explore.
“Visiting the wonderful TYTO precinct is a great place to begin your journey,” says Councillor Brown.
“Visitors can spend time exploring the TYTO Regional Gallery, utilising the extensive library facilities, and visiting the military display, or simply stroll through the amazing walks that wind throughout the entire TYTO Wetlands precinct.”
And, of course, no visit to Hinchinbrook would be complete without a trip to Wallaman Falls, part of the traditional lands of the Warrgamaygan Indigenous people. The highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall (268m) in Australia, Wallaman Falls is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, home to some of the oldest rainforests on Earth and many endangered plants and animals. On the road to Wallaman Falls, cassowaries can be spotted walking near the road, often with chicks in tow during the breeding season.
WALK THE WALK
As with all wild and beautiful destinations, walking is often the best way to really experience a place. In Hinchinbrook, there are walks to suit all walkers, whether they be casual city strollers, or multi-day hikers.
The Hinchinbrook Way walk is an easy 1.9km return stroll, taking you from the Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Lounge to an elevated walkway suspended above the wetlands. It weaves its way through the TYTO, before descending past public artworks and into the town centre of Ingham. Along the way, pop into Ingham’s restaurants and shops, and see the 42m-long Mercer Lane Mosaic.
The Banggurru walk is another popular easy amble, distancing just 800m, where the whole family can explore the Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforest and the banks of Stony Creek. Spend a moment peering into the rock pools there and you might be rewarded with a glimpse of a platypus, or see a water dragon seeking refuge in the creek. Saw-shelled turtles can also be seen basking on logs or peeking through the surface of the water.
For those who fancy something a little more challenging, the track to Jourama Falls lookout is a one-hour, 3km return walk. Those who make it to the end of the track will be rewarded with views out over the falls and the surrounding rainforest.
WHERE TO STAY
There are five traditional caravan parks in Hinchinbrook Shire offering powered and unpowered sites.
Brain Cook, who frequently stays in Forrest Beach Hotel Motel and Caravan Park in his 28ft Space Star van, said of the caravan park: “It’s bloody beautiful here, it’s just gorgeous. There’s plenty of shady spots, and you’re only about 50ft from the water. It’s very relaxing.
“I’ve been around Australia a couple of times and this is one of the best spots. I do a bit of fishing, a bit of walking. There’s barramundi, mackerel, whiting. It’s quiet this time of year (January), and there’s about five other RVs in the park.
“Lots of people have been coming here every year for 20 or 30 years, and I’ve been coming since 2010.”
Brian, whose wife died nine years ago, travels on his own and says all the regulars at the caravan park get along very well.
The Shire of Hinchinbrook is located in Northern Queensland, 150km north of Townsville, and 190km south of Cairns along the A1 highway.
For more information on fishing, walking, cultural tours, beaches, and nature experiences, visit www.hinchinbrookway.com.au.
Kookaburra Holiday Park in Cardwell is close to the centre of town and has different types of accommodation to suit all budgets. (www.kookaburraholidaypark.com.au)
BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Holiday Park provides powered/unpowered sites or cabins situated 50km from Hinchinbrook Island, overlooking the tranquil Mission Beach. (www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/qld/tropical-north/beachcomber-coconut-holiday-park#sites).