Matt was the winner of our #travelstoke Queensland contest, and his visit to Hinchinbrook Island was sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland. Learn more about Queensland on their blog.

I spoke to my friends about my filmmaking expedition to Hinchinbrook Island, and they all said, “Cool…where’s that?”

None of my fellow Australians seem to know about this place, despite it being the largest national park island in Australia. Hinchinbrook is situated off the Far North Queensland coast, between Townsville and Cairns. Although it’s home to one of the nicest treks in the world, and is becoming known as one of the best sea kayaking destinations in Australia, it remains very low profile for now.

I knew little about the place or what characters I would encounter along the way, but when I met lead guide James Thorpe, I knew the story I wanted to tell. James is a guy that lives and breathes for adventure. Born in Tasmania, he grew up with a paddle in his hand, competing nationally in whitewater kayaking, and for the past 12 years has worked as an expedition leader, guiding trips all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Norway, Canada, British Columbia, Turkey, and Greenland. Currently, he spends many months of the year leading Antarctic expeditions.

After so many worldly adventures, what’s Hinchinbrook got that brings him back to Queensland year after year?

“I come back here to defrost,” he jokes. But It’s not long before you realize that this isn’t just a job for James but an almost visceral connection to the place itself. I asked James about the first time he came here:

Initially I was struck by this place’s beauty and its wildness and how little it’s publicized. It’s like this little hidden spot off the North Queensland coast that nobody knows about, but it’s amazing, so pristine. It hasn’t changed since James Cook sailed along the coast and named a lot of its features.

I knew that I could never describe this place in my own words the way James can make you feel about it when you listen to him. This is James’s story.