Leg: Sunken Island Reef to Zoe Bay
Maximum Elevation: 232 metres
The sunrise was wonderful at Sunken Island Reef and the shot below from Clare and Tom’s tent showcases it beautifully. Clare’s pack can be seen hanging from our rat rope, which is effectively a strong (but light) rope threaded length wise through two softdrink bottles. The theory is that even though the rats can easily tightrope walk along a rope, they can’t get over or around a slippery , plastic bottle! We carried bottles and rope for this purpose and had up to 5 packs hanging off one rope without any rat attacks!
Below is the campsite, looking out to the Bay, there was plenty of room, but a lot of rubbish!
It was a big grunt uphill back onto the Thorsborne Trail from Sunken Reef Bay and, in retrospect, it was a toss up whether it was worth the side trip, compared with staying at Mulligan Falls. Mulligan Falls camping area was quite large and close to the Falls so a freshwater swim could be had at any time.
Our next objective was Zoe Falls and the walking was relatively easy. Just as we were getting hot again and looking for a swim, we came across the top of Zoe Falls. We had thought that Mulligan Falls was an excellent swimming hole until we came across the top of Zoe Falls. It is a great swimming hole, with spectacular views down to Zoe Bay. THIS is the spot that is shown in all the guidebooks and is a wonderful spot, one of the highlights of the trip. We stopped there for 2 hours having several swims and a nice long lunch break.
The pictures below show the swimming hole with Zoe Bay in the distance. The second picture is from the top of Zoe Falls. This would be very difficult and dangerous to cross in the Wet or if the river was flowing strongly. In fact, all the river crossings would be dangerous in wet weather as the rocks are very slippery.
We then moved on down a steep track to the base of Zoe Falls. The one minor obstacle is a very short section of climbing down some rocks. Parks have kindly installed a thick rope to help with the descent (or ascent). The drop is about 3-4 metres and Sue, who hates heights and slippery rocks, did it easily. About 10 minutes later, the BEST swimming hole on Hinchinbrook Island that we were to encounter, was revealed at the base of Zoe Falls. It is a large, deep hole with lots of inquisitive Jungle Perch gently cruising in the water. We stopped again and had a great swim. Clare tried diving to the bottom of the pool and was unable to reach it!
From here we made our way down to Zoe Bay and found the campsite. The camping area here starts in very sheltered rain forest, about 150 meters from the Beach. Try and remember to fill your water containers up at Zoe Falls, as the closest point where you can get fresh water and reach the river is about 3-400 meters inland from the Beach.
Some great people from Maryborough , in Southern Queensland we had met at the top of Zoe Falls , suggested the best camp sites were hidden off the beach. We found our site (pictured below), which was just off the beach, with a great view and a table! Sand flies were very prevalent. Later in the afternoon a couple of the boys from Maryborough were casting lures into the area just behind the shore break and were able to catch (and release) several salmon. Pretty keen fishermen to carry in their rods as part of their hiking gear, but they were not the only people we saw enjoying a cast and landing a few fish on this trip. keep that in mind any keen anglers out there!
We had a pleasant evening at Zoe bay, met several very nice people and enjoyed the table to cook and eat around. Top spot, worth a couple of days if you can squeeze it in to your trip.