Location - Hinchinbrook Island National Park, Queensland, Australia
Distance - Approximately 6 km one way from Little Ramsay Bay (not including the zig zagging through creeks and around vegetation)
Time - A multi-day trip but can be done in one day
Grade - Difficult and strenuous
Type - Remote, off-track bushwalking
Hinchinbrook Island welcomes climbers with driving rain and cold mist. The island lies just a mile off the Queensland coast, not far from Cardwell and Lucinda, but it could well be another lost jurassic world. Mangroves guard its western shores and rough seas the eastern, spiders it's trees and pythons its mountains.
Mount Bowen, elevating at 1,121m above sea level makes it quite a hike. Only the serious hikers have dared to climb this monster and very few have been successful.
It's a very weather dependant walk which can change all of a sudden. The best time of the year to do this trek is in August or September because it's not too hot, it's not the wet season and there's still enough water in the creek.
Much of the mountain area is covered with fragile heath vegetation and to protect the unspoiled nature of the island and in the interest of safety, camping overnight in these areas is restricted and requires a special permit which is limited by numbers. Any group wishing to sleep overnight in the mountains will need to apply in writing to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). A topographical map and compass (or a GPS unit) as well as a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) should also be carried.
How to get there
Two main routes up Mt Bowen, Warrawilla Creek and Pineapple peak/ridge
Warrawilla Creek Route
If you're dropped off at Ramsay Bay, you will need to walk two hours South on the Thorsborne Trail to Little Ramsay Bay. From here you make you way up the creek next to the camping area, called Warrawilla Ck.
It's a long way rock hopping over mid sized boulders with heavy backpacks. Keep to the right fork when heading up the creek and avoid any of the forks to the left as they terminate at rock walls and thick vegetation. There are a bunch of cairns along the way to keep you on track.
Once you reach the last right fork, cairns and pink tape will become prevalent. The path is well worn from other hikers over the years; so it's very easy to follow from here on.
The creek becomes narrower and the vegetation closes in as you get closer to the saddle. There's enough room at the saddle to fit one or two small tents but it you could sleep more people if just using only a tarp.
From here the track finds it way up to the left around the right side of the rock and up into the scrubby vegetation. It's a lot easier going when it's been burnt off so you may want to check the park alerts and plan around their backburns. After several smaller peaks and past all the thick banksias, Mt Bowen will shown itself. The summit is fairly flat but the low vegetation allow you to see the 360 degree view.
At the summit you'll find a geocache with writings from all the other adventures before you. There's not much shade from the sun but you may find a flat rock or two to set up a tent and just below the summit are a few larger tree that would suit hammocks.
You can then continue onto The Thumb with the easiest route being around the backside.
Pineapple Ridge Route
Doubted the harder route of the two, you'll have to navigate your way along Nina Ridge and up and over Pineapple Peak around sear cliff faces, loose rocks and through thick scrubby vegetation through Pineapple Saddle. On the way up the ridgeline you will see The Wart rock formations and Wart Saddle. Closer to the North Saddle are tall, thick ferns forcing you to lift your legs up to the head with each step. Continue to Mt Bowen as per Warrawilla Creek Route.
Via The Thumb
If ascending The Thumb via an alternative route, you have the option of head up the ridge from Thumb Saddle to Mt Bowen.