Hinchinbrook Channel - Cardwell
Reviewed Sep 2017
We visited Cardwell in September 2017, just to top up on supplies.
To get ashore, you need quite a few things in your favour:-
1. Calm, near calm or offshore conditions ... the latter is highly unlikely.
2. Near high tide helps #
3. Low swell conditions ... Developed groundswell is highly unusual
4. An absence of crocs, depending how you get ashore
5. If using the wharf at much less than high tide, a tinny or plastic moulded dinghy would be imperative .... as the oysters are a killer on an inflatable.
As it was, we had (1) and (3) in our favour, at least at the start. We were unable to comment on (4), as the water was so murky! A quick check with the locals confirms they (crocs) are often about.
Unless it is near high tide, do yourself a favour, and discount the beach. It shoals a long way out on the bottom part of the tide, is soft and there are plenty of oysters, just to make it truly entertaining.
So, about an hour short of a low Spring tide, we anchored in 2.5 m - only half a mile out from the head of the wharf.
We used the wharf to get ashore. There are two sets of stairs on this all concrete structure. There is a kind of a lee from NNE on one side and the SE on the other - we used the latter. There are also some stainless ladders, but near low tide (a) it's a long way down, and (b) the ladder at around 0.5 - 0.8 m above LWS is choked with those oysters .... the wharf is free of oysters for the area below 0.5 m above LWS.
Port Hinchinbrook with the waterfront homes and pontoons (and, for a time, a marina) has silted badly at the entry. We were told the entry is basically "runabout territory", but we could see masts inside - hopefully they are cats, or else they may be trapped on most tides.
For our landing, the "admiral" took a granny trolley and checked out the local IGA, while the "skipper" retreated to the boat. The town is streets ahead of where it was 3 or so years ago, with a lot of foreshore work having improved the general amenity for residents and visitors.
The IGA, around 500 m north, was quite satisfactory, with a good standard of fruit and veg and meats as well as all the usual IGA condiments. The coffee shop across from the jetty is very popular with F & V (and seafood supplier) just to the south.
It was near low tide upon the admiral's return. Take a long line so you can stand off the wharf - and have the granny trolley roped down to you, a bit like the way the whicker basket contraption used to work for getting lighthouse keepers, and their food, livestock and possessions on (and off) Tasman Island in SE Tassie.
By the way, we didn't need to reprovision really - just a top up, as the "after weekend hours of operation" local VMR person at Innisfail had inferred it would be imprudent to enter the Johnston River in a keel boat - something we subsequently found was not quite correct ... But that's the subject of another post!
Not much. But you can get provisions. Locals are friendly.
Shoal. Murky water with a chance of crocs.
Difficulty getting ashore.