Canoe Tas Inc

West Coast

Franklin River

Lyell Highway to Butler Island
Distance: 90 km.
Average Grade: 4 m/km
Peak Grade: 10m/ km through Deception Gorge (the "Great Ravine").
Difficulty: Grade 2-5, grade 6 in sections at high water.
Paddling Time: 6-10 days.
Entry Point: Lyell Highway Bridge (A10) on the Collingwood River (Grid ref. 113 314).
Exit Point: Butler Island (Grid ref. 912 867). By prior arrangement (ring 004 717179) catch the Denison Star from the Gordon River out to Strahan.
Water Level: There is a river level gauge at the Collingwood Bridge. Below 0.7m. will be a scratchy, low level descent. Above 1.6m. is not recommended. Though this level may not look impressive at the Collingwood, 50 Km. further down river, with numerous other tributaries, the "Great Ravine" will be virtually uncanoeable. About lm. is a good general level, though this may still necessitate some high portages in the "Great Ravine".
Tasmap: 1:100 000 Franklin, Olga.
General Description: The Franklin is probably the most committing river trip available in Tasmania. Though the trip from Lyell Highway to the Gordon River has been done in 24 hours it is necessary to allow at least a week. For many, 10 days will allow a good safety margin and also gives the opportunity to explore the exceptional environment through which you travel. For those interested in detailed notes on the river, it is recommended that you contact the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, who produce a copy of "Notes for Franklin River Rafters and Bushwalkers", which gives detailed descriptions of major rapids, possible campsites and a host of other information. The Franklin is normally commenced from the Collingwood Bridge, on the Lyell Highway which gives a few hours paddle to the actual Franklin River. Otherwise get directly into the river at the Franklin Bridge on the Lyell Highway (if the river is low be prepared for a very rocky start). If the river is low, the run down the Collingwood is grade 2 with a couple of minor portages. If the river is high, a fairly steady grade 3 standard exists. There are numerous rapids once the Franklin is reached. Before the Irenabyss there are two major hazards. Just upstream of the Loddon Tributary there is a huge log spanning the river. Portage is essential, use the left bank. Nasty Notch is about 2 Km. up from the Irenabyss. Portage can be either side. To shoot this at a low level is impossible, the "Notch" being approximately 50 cm. wide.
There are numerous rapids also in this section which may also need inspection and possible portage depending on the river level. The long rapid at the head of the Irenabyss should also be inspected – from Rocky Crag on the left bank (can be portaged on left bank if necessary). The Irenabyss speaks for itself. There are many exceptional areas of this river. Evaluate them as you think fit. They are all totally unique and irreplaceable. From the Irenabyss to the head of the "Great Ravine" is the calm before the storm. This section can take several days and gives some beautiful sights such as Blushrock Falls. This section is generally about grade 2 but keep an eye open for logs. Boats have been broken, rafts severely damaged and lives lost in easier situations.

Erika Williams – Trojans