Hinchinbrook Island Cyclone – Christmas in a dunny

Ah, the optimism of youth and being a backpacker!

Imagine the scene: Cyclone Tasha is heading towards the coast just south of Cairns , due around Christmas Day. You decide to spend a few days on Hinchinbrook Island, hiking the Thorsborne Trail (which also happens to be just south of Cairns).

Fantastic! Let’s go! It will only be a bit of rain and wind!

Sunrise Zoe Bay Hinchinbrook Island

Sunrise over Zoe Bay Hinchinbrook Island (in slightly better weather)

Rather than re-write the article from the Couriermail, we have shared it here:

For four days, the men from Germany and France sat out Cyclone Tasha in a public toilet, trapped by rising creek waters.

They were found by an emergency services helicopter yesterday morning around 9am at Zoe Bay.

The 19-year-olds were given hiking permits for the national park on December 23, despite wild weather warnings.

After failing to return Christmas Eve, a warning was sent out but rescue operations were held off until yesterday morning due to the bad conditions.

The young men said they did not even know they were in a cyclone until found by emergency services.

“We were struggling,” hiker Nils Franz told Channel Nine.

“We didn’t know what to do or if a rescue team was coming.”

Senior Sergeant Peter Williamson said the three men were extremely lucky considering the circumstances.

Another of the hikers, Romain Le Floc, told Channel Nine that the 10 packs of noodles the men had to share were “the best Christmas dinner ever”. (They obviously had not bought Food to Go – our recipe book!)

Police said they also picked up two other hikers who had abandoned their trek because of the conditions.

This must have been scary stuff for the French and German boys.

On a trip into the South West of Tasmania we were caught between the flooded Louisa and Faraway Creeks for a day and that was a bit disconcerting…..

A couple of questions come to mind:

  1. Should Parks have issued a permit knowing the weather forecast?
  2. Can you just live on 2 minute noodles?
  3. Have you ever been caught in a flood?
  4. Have you ever used a toilet as an emergency shelter?

Image: apurdam via Flickr


  1. Pete says

    Can you just live on 2 minute noodles? I almost acknowledged the Maggi company in the front section of my PhD thesis.

  2. scott says

    i to have spent a nite in a loo on hinchinbrook island ,last year after a huge downpour. the smell and mosquitos were very bad,but as they say any port in a storm. still well worth the trip

  3. Toothbrush says

    I’m fine with Parks issuing permis. Don’t need more of a nanny state. They should, however, have made sure that the backpackers were actually aware of the severe weather coming their way. After that, it’s up to the backpackers themselves to take a decision (and responsibility for themselves).

    I’ve never been in such a dire situation, but I’ve used dunnies for shelter before. Including a night camping in Namadgi, where the dunnies at the campground had such a big vestibule we actually put up the tents inside… haha. Reason we did this: our cheap little tents were on the verge of death, a big summer storm was rolling in bringing an awesome downpour of rain, and we were the only ones camping there (so taking over the dunnies didn’t bother anyone). It’s all fun and games.

    Also, and most importantly – mi-goreng noodles are vastly superior to Maggi noodles. And that is that.

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