TASSIE RIVER INFO
To find out more about what rivers to paddle in Tasmania check out:
Paddle Tasmania as this has heaps of great rivers listed in the river guides section. Note though that quite a lot of information regarding access and gauges is now well out of date! Also, some rivers read like they are done regularly yet they may only have ever had 1 or 2 descents. Try to get some local advice to confirm whether the info is still accurate. A number of rivers are also not listed on this site.
AdventurePro Australia and NZ also has some good info on a select number of Tasmanian rivers.
If you haven’t already, consider joining the friendly Facebook Group: Packrafting in Tasmania
Likewise, the Creeking Tasmania Facebook Group can also provide a huge amount of resources however note that this is a kayaking focused group who may or may not provide packrafters with advice. I think it depends on how you ask it and whether you appear to be sufficiently experienced and capable.
FRANKLIN RIVER INFO
The Franklin River in Tasmania’s south-west and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is Tasmania’s best known whitewater river and has been regarded by some as one of the top ten multi-day commercial rafting destinations in the world. There is already heaps of online info regarding the Franklin so I won’t be repeating it here. Instead check out the Parks website , Roman Dial’s 2nd Franklin trip (& Bill Hatcher’s perspective) as well as stories of two others’ experiences: Wild Exposure (kayaking) and Bushwalk Australia (packrafting). It really is one of the most beautiful places in Tasmania despite the actual paddling not being as high quality as some other (shorter) trips in Tassie. Generally, everyone walks around the major rapids due to the high consequences of a mistake.
The Franklin is an environment to be taken seriously as although it appears relatively straightforward at low levels for experienced parties with prior knowledge of the river, at high flows (a very common occurrence at any time of the year) it is a completely different river. A number of people have died on the Franklin, not from the rapids being particularly hard but more from the fact that there are many hidden dangers on this river – submerged strainers, sieves, undercuts and extremely retentive hydraulics. Having someone with you who knows this river and its dangers makes a massive difference! It is a river where even the portages can be extremely challenging and dangerous (depending on the level) and paddlers regularly need to sit and wait out flood events for a couple of days. It has been known to rise more than a metre per hour and to rise up to 10 metres overnight in certain sections. Some campsites can even get flooded out.
A video of mine of a 7-day low level summer trip can be seen here whilst an earlier 4-day circuit trip that exits at the Irenabyss and involves a walk out over Frenchmans Cap can be found here. I’d encourage packrafters who don’t have prior experience on the Franklin to consider carrying lightweight packs so that they have the option to consider walking out at the Collingwood-Franklin Junction, the Irenabyss or the Mt McCall track. All parties should definitely carry a PLB but be fully self-sufficient to get themselves out of any sticky situations without help. It is a really bad look when packrafters are seeking help from local rafting companies which unfortunately has been a relatively common occurrence from the sound of things.
HIRING PACKRAFTS & PADDLING GEAR
There are currently 2 hire companies in Tassie and another one in Melbourne who can supply boats and paddling gear.
Alex McWhirter, from Watermarked Expedition Services, is based in Snug/Hobart . Contact him or staff via email through firstname.lastname@example.org
They have 10 packrafts or so (mostly Kokopelli) and all are self-bailers with internal storage capacity. Alex also has a vast knowledge of Tasmanian rivers as he regularly guides, instructs and runs whitewater programs all over Tasmania. Alex has been involved in teaching packrafing on the PaddleTasmania courses and also often runs river rescue and rafting courses.
Pack Raft Australia is based in Melbourne however Ryan will ship boats wherever you require. Ryan deals exclusively with Alpacka packrafts and has a range of boats and gear to hire and buy. Contact him via his webpage.
Wildabout Packrafting is based in Devonport. Contact Shane via https://www.facebook.com/Wildaboutpackrafting/ or 0467 648 989
Shane has 7 Alpacka packrafts with cruiser decks and internal storage capacity.
General paddling and rafting/kayaking gear can also be hired through Outdoor Equipment Hire
ACCESS TO TASMANIAN NATIONAL PARKS
In order to legally enter a National Park in Tasmania you are required to have a ‘Parks Pass’. Check out the Parks website for information about how to ‘Buy a Parks Pass’ and what the options are. This site also has lots of great info on Tasmania’s special places and how to care for them.
BIO-SECURITY AND PROTECTING TASMANIA FROM PESTS
We are extremely lucky in Tasmania in that we can generally drink water straight from our rivers (upstream of farmland) without any filtering. We also have amazingly pristine waterways AND WE NEED TO KEEP THEM THAT WAY! Visitors and locals – please do the right thing and ensure that you do not import any nasty and noxious pests into our river systems. Doing so would be absolutely devastating for the whole state and for everyone in it. Please watch this video and learn about how you can prevent pests, such as Diddymo, from invading our state. There is huge potential for packrafters, particularly those travelling from NZ to Tassie, to completely destroy our river systems!
Remember: Check, Clean, (Disinfect), Dry. For more information visit www.nrmsouth.org.au
WEBSITES WHICH FOCUS ON PACKRAFTING IN TASMANIA
Famed Tasmanian packrafting pioneer and bushwalker John McLaine has a website https://mclaine.org/ that includes the history of packrafting in Tasmania as well as many good accounts of early trips within the state. He also has a number of videos online that are well worth watching. John was instrumental in organising the 1st Australian Packrafting Meetup that was held in north-west Tasmania in January, 2018.
Jarrah Vercoe also has a number of excellent videos on YouTube online that showcase packrafting a wide range of rivers in Tasmania.
Likewise, I have a YouTube channel that features a large range of packrafting trips with films of trips in Tasmania, the mainland and overseas.
We are fortunate in Tasmania to have the Government provide an online mapping database and basic software program. ListMAP, thanks to its easy ability to switch between a range of maps and satellite/aerial images, is an amazing resource once you start playing with it and understanding its full capability. Check out the Basemap options and also the chance to add layers. It is not so good though for printing maps.
WEATHER, RIVER HEIGHTS & CLIMATE
For general and specialist weather forecasts check out the Bureau of Meteorology
OUTDOOR STORES (HOBART)
At present we have two great outdoor stores in Hobart, both with some great staff and both locally owned by Tasmanians:
Find Your Feet – lots of premium brands and specialist lightweight outdoor gear
Mountain Creek – an amazing full range of gear and they even sell Kokopelli packrafts, Werner paddles and quality kayaking/paddling gear.
PACKRAFTING COURSES (BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED)
Canoe Tasmania now offers both 2-day Beginner and 2-day Intermediate Whitewater Courses as well as a 3-day Advanced Whitewater Course. If you are interested then email Canoe Tasmania to get yourself on a waiting list as numbers are extremely limited and courses highly popular. Most courses fill quite quickly as usually only one of each is run a year. For more info check out the Packrafting Courses page or visit the Canoe Tasmania site to see what is on offer.