South Esk – Cataract Gorge

Canoe Tas Inc

South Esk

South Esk River

Cataract Gorge – Trevallyn Dam – Tamar River




high volume

Distance: 5 km.

Average Grade: 20 m/km.

Peak Grade: 60m/km through Duck Reach.

Difficulty: Grade 4-5-6.

Paddling Time: 0.53 hours.

Entry Point: A short scramble down a track from the Trevallyn Dam Car Park (Grid ref F.Q 071 112). Take care as the track is steep and slippery.

Exit Point: The best exit point is at the Lady Stelfox jetty on the right hand side of the Tamar River, park at Ripples CafŽ. (Grid ref. EQ 105 126.)

Water Level: 0.2 m to 1.0 m of spill over Trevallyn Dam for the full trip (0.5 m is the ideal level). Top Water Level of the dam is 126.5 m on the BOM gauge. Check levels : Trevallyn (Flood Warning) Trevallyn (Daily Level)

Tasmap: 1:100 000 St. Patricks

Shuttle: 15 mins one way

General Description: Cataract Gorge has long been a main stay of the paddling community, it is one of the few rivers in the state where you have toilets at the put in, a 5 star restaurant at the take out and all number of amusements on the banks on the way down. Indeed it has even been used as an aquaduct to Christmas Dinner!

The river itself is second to none. The rapids feel big and steep and there are a few great play spots for those that way inclined. At low flows the rapids become more creeking in nature and at extremely high flows (over 1.0m spill) it is possible to simply pick a section of the river (usually around the Basin) to run where you will be assured to please the crowd.

The full trip kicks off easily enough for a kilometre or two before stepping up to grade 3/4/5 at the ÔWho Who Hut weirÕ. It remains at this tempo with all rapids being easy to scout and portage until the second basin is reached (a flat pool after the Duck Reach Power Station and swinging bridge). Below the second basin the river splits into two. The left channel is a steep continuous boulder garden (grade 3/4) and the right is characterised by two 2 m water falls (The Toaster and Sandwich Press) followed by a tricky class 5 rapid to polish off ÔThe RightÕ. From here make your way down Plateau Rapid to the Basin being sure to entertain the crowd and finish it off with a few styling moves on the Slalom Rapid to the tidal waters of the Tamar River below.