It was the trek you must do before you die. And it nearly killed me

The story of a life-affirming hike on Hinchinbrook Island in Queensland – falling in creeks, drinking stagnant water and being devoured by sandflies

Before I started my first proper hike, I practised for several weeks walking with a small pack and new boots on the stretch of car-heavy road that took me from Bellevue Hill to my office in Surry Hills in Sydney.

The main thoroughfare I walked down was flat and covered in bitumen. Bus fumes hung in the air. The scenery was OK, I guess; lots of Thai massage places and curry houses down lower Oxford Street, the army barracks and abandoned dress shops on upper Oxford Street. This was my training for a multi-day affair carrying a massive pack around a remote tropical island. In the weeks before I went I was dogged by an anxious feeling – that hiking may not be for me, that I hadn’t adequately prepared. But I guessed the only way to find out was to try it.

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