2008 Hinchinbrook Island backpacking trip.
14 July 2008,
I've taken the cat to Ramsay Bay three times now and it is still amazing to be able to navigate from the bay side almost to the ocean through the mangroves. I don't think I've ever seen that anywhere else but I don't get out much.
|Cruising a channel between the mangroves. This almost reaches the beach on the ocean side of the island.|
Initially we had fine weather. Since last time (2002) the wooden contraption we had to scramble up from the shuttle dingy to get onto the island was replace with a modern ramp. This made things much easier.
A few minutes walk and we were on the ocean beach at Ramsay bay (not to be confused with little Ramsay bay) and heading south.
A young couple with packs were heading north and I asked them about conditions ahead, particularly about water sources. They said the water was fine except for Nina-bay where water from the northern end was drinkable but brackish.
|Arjan and I about to leave Ramsay bay and head south along the trail.|
Once again I stopped at the southern end of Ramsay to take photos. We refer to the rocks there as â€œEaster islandâ€. I took photos of oysters.
We left the day trippers and headed uphill along the track. I was carrying close to 25Kg on my back and in my pockets. I found it a little hard going and we had an extended break at Black sand beach.
|No prizes for guessing why this is called "Black sand beach".|
I went slightly ahead and waited for Arjan at the Nina peak track junction. Nina peak is an optional walk but worth doing. Again I was pretty tired by the time we reach the top and managed graze my knee and bang my head several times.
The views are good and we watched some sort of raptor working the ridge lift and occasionally diving to catch prey.
|Nina bay viewed from the nina Peak track.|
Nina peak is also a hot spot for mobile phone coverage but I'd left my phone in my pack at the junction.
After descending I found it hard going, I may have had my hip strap too tight. We expected a bright moon I had hoped we could walk into the night and reach Little Ramsay bay and have a rest day there as well as one at Zoe bay. It was clear that I wasn't up to it. I had to take a big break before reaching Nina bay and walk the last 500 metres mainly carrying the pack weight on my shoulders.
There was only one camper there when we arrive. He was an older man carrying a large camera. He was even more serious about photography than I. His camera had been damage din a fall he had, the display didn't work but it still seemed to go through the motions of taking pictures.
We began to set up our cooking stuff on a bench previous campers had made from driftwood. This was to be the first serious test for my home-made turbo stove. Well guess who left the battery pack at home. I had a scrap of solder and a mini gas torch so I improvised a pack from some of the AA batteries I had with me. This worked and I cooked a meal of instant spuds with peas along with fried spam.
Other hikers had arrived from the south and I invited them over to look at the stove. They made all the right noises and returned to their campsite.
|My homemade turbo-stove being used for real for the first time.|
I was contemplating sleeping on the beach sans-tent but it began to drizzle so I pitched the tent and settled in for a damp night.
We only had a short walk to do so there was no hurry to rise or pack. I found a water hole upstream at the southern end of the bay and the water seemed fine to me. Some other campers had avoided it because it wasn't flowing but it looked and stated fine and had lots of life in it,
We made picklets for breakfast which were less than perfect and mostly discarded.
We left late morning and proceeded to scramble through the rocks in boulder bay. The tidal zone was very slippery as the light rain kept the rocks wet and slimy. We both had minor falls. There was a bit of a narrow ledge we had to use to cross a small rocky head and we opted to remove our packs and pass them up.
From this point we could see a hiker who had obviously arrived that morning walk towards us along Nina bay beach.
The walk was uneventful and we arrived at Little Ramsay in the rain to find a poly tarp had been left there on the ground,
Arjan set to work tying up the tamp while I looked for rope in my pack while trying to keep everything dry.
We were under cover and trying to set up the turbo-stove when a woman walked into the camp-site. We later learned her name was Jenny but our first encounter was brief. She hadn't decided if she would camp here or at Banksia Bay so she left her pack and went to explore the lagoon.
We had lunch and occasionally glanced at Jenny's pack wondering where she had gotten to. We joked about sending out a search party but weren't serious about it.
About 4PM I was putting up my tent and Jenny wandered in. She said she was glad to find us. My first impression through slightly myopic vision was that she had covered her face with red war paint. As she came closer I realized is was blood.
She had a deep 50mm gash starting at her forehead and running between her eyes and onto her nose. Jenny had tried to check out access to the next bay and fallen on the rocks. She had missed the trail marker and attempted to cross where she shouldn't have. It was a mistake anyone could have made.
We had a EPIRB beacon with us but decided to look for a mobile phone hot spot first. Arjan played nurse and I check out the headland to see if I could get a signal. I wasn't optimistic and I couldn't get a signal. It is possible somewhere higher up the ridge might have worked but I could have been gone hours and found nothing.
On returning to camp we somehow decided not to use the EPIRB and we would walk Jenny to Zoe bay where she was hoping to meet her daughters. She was in no immediate danger and we mainly wanted to get her to a hospital to minimize the amount of scaring she might have.
Jenny pitched her tent. Arjan and I had hot food and drink but Jenny was unable to eat much because of the swelling around her upper lip. It was still raining into the night and the three of us exchanged stories under the tarp for a while then all turned in early.
I wasn't sure how we I would cope with this walk. Last trip I found this leg of the hike difficult and this time it was longer because it was from Little Ramsay bay and not Bansksia bay.
I had trouble getting my wet tent back into the bag and ending up just stuffing it into the bottom of the pack and tying the tent bag and fly outside the pack.
Arjan walks a little faster than Jenny and I â€“ so we sent him ahead with my phone to try the make contact with the mainland when he could get a phone service.
|Walking to the next bay and beyond is easy provided you follow the trail markers. It is easy to miss one and wander off the intended path.|
After the main ridge the phone worked and Arjan contacted Jenny's family and the boat.
The boat was coming out to get her and expected at 4pm. I offered to drop behind if the others wanted to walk faster but it turned out I had no trouble at all getting to Zoe bay almost on time.
|One of the many creek crossing. This is potentially "gator" territory.|
There were many creek crossings and some were a little bit slippery. We had lunch beside a crocodile warning sign.
The drizzle was light enough that I kept the camera in my top pocket but it got damp enough that the optical viewfinder fogged up, Otherwise it appeared to be working fine and I took quite a few photos and clips along the way.
|The trail is invisible for much of the walk and you have to follow the markers. There are a couple of markers in this image - if you want to see them - click the image to enlarge it.|
We got to Zoe about ten minutes late and there was no boat. I was confident the boat would land at the creek at the southern end but the others decided to walk to the northern end just in case. I stayed put and maybe ten minutes latter the boat arrived at the south.
I didn't know it at the time but the woman on the boat with the skipper (John) was his sister who was nurse and organised to get Jenny into a local hospital.
We waved goodbye and set up camp in the same spot were Natasha and I camped in 2002.
|Arjan's dome tent at the Zoe Bay camping ground with my hiking tent in the background.|
It still drizzled on and off for the rest of the day and night.
I knew from 2002 that the northern end of Zoe had a marginal phone service. Last time it was a CDMA network which is very similar to next-G in range. My CDMA phone had a pull out aerial, the new phone doesn't and I think it makes a difference. The only way I could make a call was to use hand-free mode so I could hold the phone away from my head.
By the time I got back to the camp near the southern end of the bay Arjan was already in his tent asleep.
The weather fined up.
I put on my day-pack and walked towards Zoe falls where I collected water for the day.
This was our rest day which I planned to use by back tracking and taking photos.
|The swamp behind zoe bay.|
The swamp is both spooky and peaceful. On both trips this area was impossible to cross without wading in shallow mud.
|Some fungus at the camp site.|
I took some photos around the camp-site. In particular there were a couple of lace monitors and lots of brown skinks in the sun.
|There are a zillion trees covered my natural art in the form of lichen.|
I walked back along the track to the first major creek crossing and took a hundred photos and a dozen video clips.
|Yes they grow on threes.|
Unfortunately the damp must have gotten into the body of the camera and I presume some condensed onto the back of the lens or sensor and showing up as a misty patch on most of the photos and clips taken that day.
This was going to be a medium length hike to Mulligan falls camping ground. The track climbs from sea level to 300 meters.
The first stop was Zoe falls.
|Zoe falls. This is a popular swimming spot usually filled with spotted grunter (fish that is).|
Next the climb to the top of the falls is the steepest part of the walk. It isn't very long and there is rope to help you up the worst of it.
There are many creek crossings and the rain made them a little difficult in parts. As noted on my hints page there are many different crossing methods employed. I just walk through shoes and all. Arjan took to taking off his dry boots and socks and wearing a different pair of sock to cross the creek. This slowed him down enough for me to get ahead for a change.
|Arjan taking his boots off to cross the creek - again.|
The track isn't optimised for getting from point A to B. Instead it winds around unnecessarily and climbs and descends more than it needs to.
On the high parts of the trail there is excellent next-G reception so this was a good time to check in with Chris (our official contact person) to say we were OK.
By the time we got to Mulligan falls I was already quite tried but we decided to push on and go all the way to George point. We only stopped for a tea break and moved on. The falls camping ground is small and it was muddy and damp.
The walk to the beach is fairly short - probably under an hour. There is no drinking water at George point so we had to fill up at the creek before we reached the beach.
The walk along the beach is easy but I was having a struggle making the last few kilometres. About half way along the beach we stopped to watch the full moon rise over Orpheus island and to take photos of it.
|The 2002 trip was arranged to coincide with a full moon and so was the 2008 trip.|
We were the only ones at the camp-site and set up on the picnic table. We cooked a big batch of instant mash potato and fried to remains of our salami. We still had ample dried peas etc and I'd carrying a couple of bags of dried mushroom which was still unopened so we added a half a packet to the spuds.
I decide to sleep on the beach. The sand was damp so I used a couple of garbage bags as a ground sheet. All was well till 1AM when it started to drizzle. I reached over to my pack and pulled the tent's fly sheet out of the tent bag and spread it over myself.
We had a few hours to spare and walk back to Mulligan bay. Arjan spotted some old looking tracks we believe to be crocodile. It was a relative small one, I'd guess the track maker was a metre or so long.
I wandered around the mud flat but couldn't see any way back along the creek. In part I was looking for fresh water but didn't find any.
By the time we were ready to go back other hikers were coming down the beach. In total eight of us departed at 1PM in a small boat headed for Lucinda.
|The boat back to the mainland is somewhat less flash than the cat that took us over. It does the job though.|