Derwent River -Butlers Gorge

Canoe Tas Inc

Central Tasmania

Derwent River

Butlers Gorge




Distance: 16.8 km.

Average Grade: 17 m/km.

Peak Grade: 60 m/km.

Difficulty: Grade 4-5.

Paddling Time: 5-7 hours.

Entry Point: At the Mossy Marsh Syphon Pumps downstream from Clark Dam ().

Exit Point: At the bridge over the Derwent River at Wayatinah (Grid ref. DP 579 061).

Water Level: 40-60 cumecs is ideal, but may be paddled higher or lower.

Tasmap: 1:100 000 Nive.


General Description: The Upper Butlers Gorge section of river flows only when Lake King William is spilling or when water is released from Clarke Dam (which has only occurred a few times since 1950!). After negotiating the weir at the Mossy Marsh Syphon, a 500 m warm-up leads to the main gorge where a series of waterfalls lead to the base of the HEC washaway below the Tarraleah canal. The first and second falls are grade 4 and paddled on the left, the third being grade 5, a large drop into a trench followed by Butlers Falls, a 6 m clean drop into a turbulent plunge pool encased by cliffs.

After the gorge, good grade 3 whitewater follows for 5 km until several large grade 5  rapids are encountered, after which more grade 2-3 continues until the logging track reaches the river, signaling the start of the grade 4 lower section. Most parties paddling the upper section will continue to the bridge at Wayatinah (45 minutes more paddling) rather than doing a more difficult shuttle, carrying the boats to the rim of the gorge and missing some more great whitewater.


‘Wacks Walkout’ (1.5km down from the lower get in).