The area of the Hinchinbrook Channel estuary reporting zone can be defined by the pre-cleared extent of mangrove and saltmarsh remnant vegetation which is characterised by species that require periodic inundation of sea water.

This area includes the length of the channel (approximately 45 km) and extends due south along the coastline from the southern mouth of the channel for approximately 20 km, the area also extends west on the mainland for approximately 10 km and east on Hinchinbrook Island for approximately 6 km.

The area has numerous coastal tributaries that drain into the channel from the mainland and from Hinchinbrook Island. The assessment area of riparian extent extends upstream of the Herbert River further than the mangrove and salt marsh communities to the upper tidal limit and includes vegetation types that are more typical of freshwater environments.

On Hinchinbrook Island the estuary area is all within National Park. The estuary area on the mainland is predominantly conservation use (Girrigun National Park) whilst land uses in the area include forestry and pond aquaculture with some cropping and residential development in the southern reaches on the mainland around the Herbert River.

The towns of Cardwell, located at the north of the channel, and Ingham, located to the south of the channel are both on the mainland. The Hinchinbrook Channel is listed in the Directory of (Nationally) Important Wetlands.

The Hinchinbrook Channel grade remained ‘good’ in 2022-23 and the score increased from 69 in the previous year to 72.

Key results

  • The water quality grade for Hinchinbrook Channel remained ‘good’, the score was unchanged on 73 since the previous year, and for all water quality indicators the grades did not change since the previous year.
  • The habitat and hydrology index remained ‘good’ whilst the score improved from 65 to 72, due to an increase of score for the fish barrier indicator.  
  • The fish barrier indicator increased in score from 60 in 2020-21 to 80 and the grade improved from ‘moderate’ to ‘good’.
  • The improved score was a direct consequence of remediation works as part of the Fish Homes and Highways project which included construction of fishways at five fish barrier sites within the Hinchinbrook Channel estuary area.
  • The fish ways connected 290km of waterways that have no barriers and reduced the number of fish barriers in the Hinchinbrook Cannel estuary zone.   

The diagram below shows the detailed results for each indicator by year. Click on the timeslider to see data from previous years.

Further Information

For a detailed breakdown of the results and trends, visit the results dashboard or read the methods and results technical reports.