This seven or eight day wilderness whitewater rafting adventure takes you the full navigable length (around 110km) of the Franklin River, deep in the heart of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area. Our journey takes us around the imposing massif of Frenchman’s Cap, the monarch of the southwest, as well as rafting through the Great Ravine, one of Tasmania’s most spectacular gorges. We occasionally have the option to climb to a knoll to view Frenchmans Cap, if the river levels and weather are favorable and the group motivated.
Unpredictable river levels mean your trip will always be an adventure – it is possible to encounter both very low levels and floods within days of each other. Whatever the level, rafts offer the best way to explore this unique wilderness.
Meeting Point and Time
We meet the afternoon before Day One at 6 pm at the Astor Private Hotel, Level 2, 157 Macquarie Street, Hobart (03) 6234 6611. This meeting is to issue and check gear. It is possible to initially meet later by prior arrangement. Alternatively we can also meet at Derwent Bridge Hotel on Day One at 10:30 am.
Time of Return
Generally we arrive back in Hobart on the early evening of day seven (around 6 – 7 pm). Our tour concludes with a yacht cruise on the Gordon River then across Macquarie Harbour to Strahan. From here our coach will return to Hobart. We often have a group dinner in Hobart. Please note that very occasionally delays can be caused by extreme weather conditions. We recommend catching the last flight out of Hobart on the day after the trip.
Grade and Fitness
Adventurous – A reasonable level of fitness is important and should increase your enjoyment of this trip. There will be some portages which require us to carry rafts and equipment around certain rapids. You should feel confident swimming with a buoyancy vest should you fall out or the raft capsize. Rapids vary from Grade One to Grade Six though most are Grade Two or Three. The most difficult level run on most trips is Grade Four and it is possible to walk around many of these rapids should you choose. Please call us anytime on 1-800-1111-42 to discuss your individual fitness.
Read more about Rafting and Grades of Whitewater
Itinarary – 7 day Full River
This is a guide only and may alter with river levels.
We depart at 7:30 am from the Astor Private Hotel. We follow the Derwent River, then climb into the Central Highlands, passing Lake St. Clair before descending to the Collingwood River, a tributary of the Franklin. Here your guides will load the rafts and give a safety briefing. The first few hours are spent mastering whitewater rafting moves and enjoying easy rapids, leading down to the junction with the Franklin proper. We then traverse the first of the Franklin’s gorges, Aesthesia Ravine. After tackling the Log Jam and Nasty Notch portages, we rocket through the rapids of Descension Gorge before arriving at the beautiful Irenabyss, or “Chasm of Peace,” our camp for the night.
Today it’s straight back into the action. Dozens of rapids, interspersed with quiet reaches, lead us past Mt. Fincham, the Jericho Walls and the Crankle and to the base of the Engineer Range. Here we relax under a canopy of towering sassafras and myrtle trees and may go swimming during lunch. Several more hours of rapids brings us to the awesome Great Ravine, one of Tasmania’s deepest gorges. First we’ll tackle the Side Slip rapid before coming to the Churn. Teamwork and tenacity will be required to portage at least part of this huge obstruction in the river. Soon after, we’ll arrive at our camp for a well-earned rest on the banks of Serenity Sound, deep in the Great Ravine.
We’ll use all of our well practised rafting skills to negotiate the Coruscades, one of the longest rapids on the river. A short float takes us through to our next portage at Thunderush, then it’s on to the last obstacle, the Cauldron. Our expert guides will ensure that we pass these awesome rapids safely and efficiently. Our camp at Rafters Basin is a great place to relax after the achievements of the day.
Today we head into Propsting Gorge continuing through the exciting Trojans rapids before arriving at Rock Island Bend and the Pig Trough with its delightful waterfall cascading into a fern-lined grotto. Safety dictates that we portage the actual Pig Trough rapid before we round Rock Island Bend to tackle the famous Newland’s Cascades. This section will have everyone whooping with delight as we plunge through a maelstrom of spray and whitewater. At rapids’ end is a place for a deserved break. On the bank, natural overhangs provide the ideal shelter. Echoing cliffs and plumes of spray add to the magnificent setting. We sometimes spend a day here.
The river abruptly leaves the quartzite gorges of the Middle Franklin and enters the limestone country of the lower reaches. Tranquil pools are broken by the occasional large rapid. Little Fall is a great spot for action photography. Slowly, the river increases in volume. The Jane River enters from the left just above our midday break on Flat Island, a beach of polished river stone dominated by the impressive Elliot Range. We then continue to our evening camp under a canopy of ancient trees by the deep pool at Blackman’s Bend. We may be lucky enough to get a visit from the local platypus.
The thick rainforest that clings to the banks is punctuated by limestone cliffs and strange rock formations. The river widens and now flows quietly. There is time to reflect, to conjure up visions of Aboriginal peoples hunting the Ice Age plains before the forest spread to claim the open country. Today we will show you some of the unique limestone caves that sheltered these people some 14,000 years ago. We then tackle the unexpected Double Fall. Soon we encounter the last step down in the river’s bedrock, Big Fall. It’s a deceptive rapid that we portage easily and quickly. Around the corner is the gaping Penghana Cave, a towering vault in the cliffs and entrance to the “Lost World”. We lunch on a beach across from the spectacular “Verandah Cliffs”. Our final few hours are spent drifting along the mighty Gordon River, carried by the huge volume of water that makes this Tasmania’s largest waterway. Soon we reach the picturesque Sir John Falls, our final camp.
Aboard the yacht ‘Stormbreaker’ we can relax and enjoy breakfast and brunch while cruising down the Gordon River and across Macquarie Harbour to Strahan on the West Coast. A coach trip back to Hobart completes our journey, normally arriving 6-7pm. We have flown directly to Hobart from the river many times and will provide this option when an appropriate aircraft becomes available. It may be possible to organise aerial transfers for a group from Strahan to Hobart.
Click here to view interactive Trip Map, showing details like
>> Trip outline
>> Rapids, Gorges
>> Landmarks, Campsites (some with photos)
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