Franklin River 10 Day
Pax Min: 4
Pax Max: 8
Cost: $ 2700 pp
Deposit: $ 200
The 10 day trip the ultimate rafting trip available in this area. You experience all the features that have made this river so famous. We start on the narrow Collingwood River, then join with Franklin River for the run down to the Irenabyss, from where we aim to climb the Frenchman’s Cap. The middle Franklin is less hectic, before descending through the Great Ravine.
We emerge from this gorge, before finally emerging for the final few days of relatively gentle padding to the finish. We will collect passengers from the central city area and along the route. At the gearcheck we shall organise these pickups. We can hold your excess baggage, till you return from the trip.
What is Supplied
Transport to and from the river from Hobart and back.
All meals from lunch Day One to lunch on final day
All rafting equipment, including the best in buoyancy aids, helmets and spray jackets
Dry bag to store personal gear whilst on the river
Wetsuit – long legs and no arms (for avoid chaffing)
All camping equipment including inflatable mattress (except sleeping bags)
National park entry fees
Trip Dates 2010/11
Dec 6th & 28th
Jan 10th & 24th
Feb 7th & 21st
Mar 7th & 21st
To ensure you and/or your friends place on the trip, book here.
We leave Hobart, travelling along the Lyell Highway, passing through the villages, hopfields and orchards of the Derwent Valley, stopping for a break at Ouse. The road climbs up to the Central highlands area, passing a few lakes and finally descending into surprise Valley. The rainforest is a lush contrast to the alpine terrain we have been traveling through. After enjoying a hearty lunch on the banks of the Collingwood River, we inflate the rafts and load up. This task appears initially daunting, however all the gear has its own allocated space. We have a safety briefing, before we enter the water and then use a quiet pool, just downstream of the bridge to learn and practice the padding skills that will enable us to safety cope with all that follows. The Collingwood River twists and turns with many small rapids as it leaves the highway and heads downstream to join with the Franklin. The rapids vary from small shingle and gravel races to tangled logjams. At lower water levels we make camp at the junction of the Franklin and Collingwood rivers, however if there is more water, we can paddle down to the Angel Rain Cavern and spend the first night under the shelter of the over hanging cliffs.
On the second day we have some harder rapids, as well as logjam and nasty Notch, which may need some portaging, depending upon water level. The run down through the Descension Gorge is followed by the still waters of the Irenayss, where the cliffs rise straight from the water. The campsites at the end of this chasm are a pleasant place to spend the night amongst the ancient Huon Pines trees.
On the third day, we have the opportunity to climb to the summit of the Frenchman’s Cap, the highest mountain is this area. This climb is not always possible; the weather is usually the deciding factor. We rise from our camps altitude of 280 metres to the peak of 1443 metres, the views from the top are awesome, from the West Coast to the Southern Ranges and up to the Cradle Mountain Reserve on a clear day. There is usually some snow on the peak, up to mid Jan, most years, which is especially pleasant on a hot summers day. When we return to camp, a swim in the cool waters is a pleasant way to relax.
The next day we need to cover a reasonable distance through the area unknown as the middle Franklin, where the river sweeps around the base of the Frenchman’s Cap. The rapids are mainly small to medium, with a few logjams to negotiate as well. Along the way we pass Mt Fincham and traverse along the Jericho Walls, the cliff face on the Engineer Range, we pass through rapids such as Hind Leg Slide, Rafters race and the puncture prone Debacle Bend. This evenings camp could be on a Sandy beach or in a small clearing amongst the forest.
The fifth day is similar to the previous day, smaller to medium rapids, highlights being the Blushrock falls, which cascade down through the forest to the river. The river surrounds change from the open rounded hills, to being enveloped in the deeper gorge. This area was explored by James Calder in 1840, whilst surveying the route for Sir John Franklin’s expedition “I twice got to the bottom of this hideous defile, but was at last forced to relinquish the idea of a direct course, and to retrace my steps.” The 10km long gorge has 4 major rapids, all requiring scouting and usually portage or a harder one, dependent upon water level. The final section of the Chum is usually an exciting ride down through some boulders. We usually camp beside the Coruscades; the second major rapid is this gorge.
The sixth day can be the most difficult on this trip, so we will need to up early and on the move promptly. Depending upon the water level, we may be able to paddle the Coruscades, or more likely, carry the raft and the gear over the boulders that make the first half of this rapid and then paddle the rest. We continue on down through this gorge, with a short portage past the sidewinder, it is then less then 1km to the Thunderush. You always hope for low to medium water levels here as then it is an easy low level portage over the boulders on the left, followed by an exciting ride through the second section. If the water is too wild, the high portage is the strenuous consequences, the final major rapid within this gorge is the Cauldron, again like the Thunderush, there are several options, the easiest being only one possible at lowest water levels. The difficulty increases with the rise in water levels. The river passes through a narrow opening, downstream of the Cauldron, and changes character as it leaves the gorge, for the final 6km run down to the Rafters Basin, a large roomy campsite, a contrast to the previous few. After the confines of the gorge, it is pleasure to be able to move around.
Day 7 and 8
The next morning starts with a short paddle down to the start of the Proposing Gorge, the last major gorge on the Franklin River. On the way we pass the Andrew River, on our right. When we arrive at the base of the Mt McCall track, we usually have a few folk leave the trip as they only have time for the upper section. We join them for the climb to the top of the gorge and meet up with those folk whom are joining the remainder of the trip. This opportunity is also used to restock with fresh food. For most trips we continue on down to the Newlands Cascades, which is one of the most fun sections paddling available on the Franklin River with many enjoyable rapids. If we are running late we camp at the base of the track and proceed on next day.
Glaciers leading from the Frenchman’s Cap, to create an awesome gorge waterfalls plummeting into the river and some memorable rapids, interspersed with magnificent rainforest carved the river valley. There is a short portage at Three Tiers, followed by the exciting rapids through the Glen Calder, named after the early explorer James Alexander Calder, whom led Sir John Franklin’s party here in 1843. The Pig Trough is the last major portage on the Franklin River, whilst out of the raft, it is worth the short detour to view the spectacular waterfall, framed by the Huon Pine and Myrtle rain forest. The short paddle past the Rock Island Bend leads to the Newlands Cascades, one of the longest and most fun to paddle, rapids on the river. We set up camp, under the over hanging cliff at the end of this rapid. The cliffs give us ample shelter from any rain, where there is ample room to move around, as a rest day here. It is relatively easy to scramble back upstream to the pig Trough to take more photographs, we can carry the empty rafts back up stream and paddle the rapids again or just rest.
This mornings paddle is relatively easy, meandering around the many bends in the river, till we arrive at Kuti Kina Cave, where we stop briefly. The river picks up pace for the next 6 km’s with both Double and the Big Falls, which can require a quick portage, depending on the water level. The limestone cliffs in this area are well featured, including Penghana Cave, which we can paddle into, and the Verandah cliff, which overhangs the water. The rest of the afternoon is spent paddling the remaining few kilometers on the Franklin River we paddle down to Sir John’s Falls for the last camp on the river.
During the night, the 60ft yacht “Stormbreaker”, has quietly come upriver, we load early in the morning and are served breakfast, whilst slowly motoring downstream. Upon reaching the mouth of the Gordon River, we hoist the sails and let the winds take us across Macquarie Harbour and into Strahan. We are served a hot lunch on the way. The bus is awaiting our return and soon we start the journey back to Hobart, usually arriving about 8.00pm.
This is a strenuous trip; the greater your level of all round fitness and agility will make it easier. It is crucial that you are a super athlete, however if you are seriously unfit, it will be a struggle and potentially dangerous as you will not have reserves to cope, if we have unusually high water levels or any other complications on the way.
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