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Thorsborne Trail

Project overview

Thorsborne Trail

The Thorsborne Trail is an existing rudimentary 32 kilometres class 5 trail along the eastern coast of Hinchinbrook Island off Cardwell, Queensland. The island is home to the world’s largest number of mangrove species and has significant environmental and natural attraction.

The public has access to the track and associated facilities with a limit of 40 people at a time. There is a well-recognised potential for an upgrade of the track and boardwalks as well as construction of accommodation pods to enable 3/4-day walks.

Located on the largest island national park in Australia, the Thorsborne Trail features public campsites, toilets, picnic tables and water collection points. The Trail is 32km long, not graded or hardened and, as a Grade 5 trail in its most difficult sections, is considered challenging to hike. Most visitors hiking the entire Trail take between three and seven days to do so.

Enhancing an iconic nature-based experiences requires extensive planning, engaging with multiple stakeholders and identifying and addressing environmental considerations.

Queensland Ecotourism Trails are conducted through a staged market engagement process in close collaboration with Traditional Owners and the local community.

For more information on the existing trail, visit Department of Environment and Science website.


  • Create new ecotourism experiences

  • Generate economic and social benefits

  • Better protection and maintenance of our National Parks


Stage 1: Registration of Interest

Tourism Operators who wish to be considered in the process for an Ecotourism Trail opportunity can submit their interest

Stage 2: Expressions of Interest

Suitably qualified Tourism Operators will be invited to engage with Traditional Owners and refine their proposals

Stage 3: Request for Detailed Proposals

Shortlisted Tourism Operators will be invited to further develop their concept and proposal, including confirmed commercial arrangements with Traditional Owners

Stage 4: Preferred Proponent Selection

The successful Tourism Operator will be selected and binding terms negotiated, with construction commencing after all approvals including agreements with Traditional Owners are in place

Expressions of Interest for the Thorsborne Trail Trail closed on 30 November 2018. The Trail will not proceed to Request for Detailed Proposals phase until social license has been obtained from the Traditional Owners.

Community engagement

The Queensland Government has been consulting with the Traditional Owner groups for Hinchinbrook Island in relation to the Thorsborne Trail since November 2018.

Following several meetings the Traditional Owners established a working group to consider the proposal. Bandjin and Girramay representatives were nominated to form the working group.

The working group and government representatives have also conducted site visits to Hinchinbrook Island, with the Traditional Owners.

Since August 2019 the working group has engaged some external assistance in order to assist in their analysis of the proposal, and to consider employment and business opportunities for the Traditional Owners.

Contact us

  • Online form
  • Phone: 1800 957 852 (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm AEST)
  • Mail:
    Tourism Development Projects Division,
    Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport,
    PO Box 15168, City East, QLD, 4002

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes. This information formed part of the strategies and management priorities for Hinchinbrook Island. Refer to page 17.

  • The State will consider proposals from proponents to modify the restriction on the number of overnight visitors where it can be shown that a better overall environmental outcome can be achieved as part of its development.

  • The Expression of Interest (EOI) opportunity is consistent with the Hinchinbrook Island National Park Management Plan. The Plan allows proposals that maintain and enhance visitors’ experience of the Thorsborne Trail and nearby camping and visitor areas.

  • Yes. Queensland and Australia owe much to the recently passed Margaret Thorsborne AO and her late husband Arthur, for their part in protecting Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and animals such as the southern cassowary, mahogany glider and dugong.

    Their love affair with Hinchinbrook Island began when visiting in 1964 and in 1972 they shifted from the Gold Coast to settle at “Galmara” Meunga Creek, near Cardwell - facing Hinchinbrook Island across the Hinchinbrook Channel.

    The Thorsbornes’ conservation works are recognised in the naming of the Thorsborne Trail.

    The Expression of Interest opportunity and its marketing are about the State carefully and responsibly developing ecotourism experiences that allow a greater diversity of visitors to share the natural beauty Margaret and Arthur Thorsborne so cherished.

  • The resort is not part of the Expression of Interest process.

  • Yes. Public access to the parks will be maintained and all of this is underpinned by the guiding principle that: Queensland’s treasured natural and cultural assets will be protected and conserved for current and future generations to enjoy.

Last updated: 18 Dec 2020