Its hard to describe the magnitude of this place in words, but imagine an island paradise, wild, rugged and untamed. Backboned with majestic peaks with arteries of waterfalls cascading from the lofty heights into clear, clean creeks and idyllic waterholes and lush rainforest and native grasslands stretching down to deserted beaches and bays. All enveloped by the azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef. This is Hinchinbrook Island, one of Australia’s must see national parks. Hinchinbrook is not only World Heritage listed it’s governed by an exclusive visitor permit system which helps to preserve its rich ecosystem and promote its wild and pristine allure. The only people who visit the island are a limited number of bushwalkers walking the Thorsborne trail, the occasional boatie and we sea kayakers. Hinchinbrook is Australia’s largest island national park and span’s some 52 kilometres from near Lucinda north to Cardwell. Hinchinbrook is renowned for it’s rich biodiversity, from rainforest to heathland to a labyrinth of mangrove estuaries on its north western end. This rich ecosystem boasts an array of both terrestrial and marine wildlife and it is not uncommon to encounter endangered dugongs, turtles, dolphins and humpback whales as we explore this captivating coastline by kayak.
The Traditional Owners, the Bandjin and Girramay people, work with QPWS on the management of their ancestral country known as Munamudanamy. Munamudanamy is the ancient Biyay name for the landscape that Europeans termed ‘Hinchinbrook’, after the estate of the Earl of Sandwich, Captain Cook’s sponsor. The name ‘Hinchinbrook’ is a singularity, a simple name for a single island. Munamudanamy on the other hand, is far more complex. Munamudamy is the collective name that describes the journey through the landscape of sea, mangroves, rivers, swamps, forests and mountains; each with their own individual names and stories.
The Family Islands
Lying off the coast of Mission Beach are 11 lush tropical islands that comprise the Family Islands National Park. White sandy beaches lapped by the warm, blue waters of the Coral Sea reward all who venture out to explore this paradise. Each island comes with its own unique charm , some offer Robinson Crusoe style isolation whilst others offer quality coral reefs and abundant marine life, but beyond their uniqueness is a shared beauty that will mesmerise any traveller who makes the effort to experience this haven. Dunk Island in the northern end of the Archipelago is our day trip destination and is also the last island we visit on our 7 day Hinchinbrook Island Expedition. It offers several walking trails, quality beaches and good snorkelling.
The Barnard Islands
Just north of Mission Beach and a short paddle from the mainland are the charming islands of the Barnard archipelago. The Barnards are rarely visited by humans and so are a sanctuary for nesting sea birds and sea kayakers who wish to escape the crowds. The Barnards comprise of seven islands all with their own distinctive allure, each little island has it's own sand and coral beach lying on the lee side of the trade winds and a beachside campsite flanked by rainforest gives campers a picturesque outlook. If you have an interest in birds then these are the islands for you, 23 species of woodland birds are known to inhabit the Barnards as well as 6 species of Terns. Until 1918 there was a family of human's too that called these islands home, the family was a 'lighthouse family' responsible for operating the lighthouse that alerts mariners to the islands whereabouts. Prior to this it was also the prized 'sea country' of the local Mamu aboriginal people. So if your after a nature based experience far away from the pitfalls of civilisation then these are your islands.
Coral Sea Kayaking is located in South Mission Beach, Queensland, Australia. South Mission Beach is a 2 hour drive south of Cairns and 3 hours north of Townsville. Both Cairns and Townsville have airports. There is a Greyhound bus service daily from Cairns to Mission Beach and a direct bus service from the airport to Mission Beach with Mission Link or else there are many options for car rental.
Mission Beach is a tropical beachside community with lots of accommodation options and good restaurants. It is a small, tourist town with lots of great sightseeing in the local area. The Great Barrier Reef is on our doorstep and the rainforests of the wet tropics is our backyard.
Our International Locations
The Calvados Islands
The Calvados Islands are an enchanting chain of atolls speckled across the northern border of the Coral Sea between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. They form part of the Louisiade Archipelago and are unbelievably beautiful and untouched by tourism. The islands feel isolated, like a place time forgot. The native people still live in grass huts, relying on a subsistence lifestyle of fishing and farming. They travel by dugout canoe and sailing outriggers and are some of the friendliest people you could ever meet. If the charm of these people is not enough, the islands themselves offer just rewards for the adventurous traveller. Kayaking through these islands is a jaw dropping experience. The geographical isolation of the Calvados Islands has helped to preserve its rich Melanesian culture.
In the eastern end of the archipelago the islands are larger and more volcanic geologically but as you travel west through the chain the islands shrink to idyllic little atolls surrounded with amazingly vibrant fringing reefs bordered by deep blue sea trenches. The Louisiades is teeming with sea life from small colourful reef fish to large pelagic species and marine mammals.