Franklin River Day 1 – Collingwood River Bridge to Franklin River Junction

It was very early in the morning when I extracted myself from between the sheets of my comfortable bed for the last time before spending two weeks in the wilderness.  My wife kindly made me a special farewell cooked breakfast after which I waved goodbye to her and the kids at 6:00am.  The bus took a few of us to Westbury where we were to meet the rest of the group… some of whom were just getting out of bed.  Something had gone wrong with communications, and they were not expecting us until an hour later.  So after coffees and hot chocolates while waiting for some others to arrive, we eventually set off from Westbury with the full team on board the bus and one car, a little late, but a lot excited.

The bus ride was a good opportunity for some of us to get to know each other a bit better.  We were a bit of a mixed bunch, and for most of us, our only connection was through David.  The road trip was largely uneventful apart from a pair of wallabies shagging on the side of the road (they don’t like being interrupted, either, and didn’t move out of the way until the very last second), and a brief stop at the lookout on the Lyell Highway where there were great views of Frenchmans Cap.  Just a few kilometres before our destination, we picked up Kate and Lauren at the car park for the Frenchmans Cap walking track – they were planning to walk out that way after the first two days of hitching a ride on our rafts and left their car there.

Water Level Not Registering at Collingwood River Bridge (photo David Tasker)

We unloaded our gear from the bus in the small dirt parking area beside the Lyell Highway at the Collingwood River, and then checked the water gauge beneath the bridge.  The notes for the Franklin River suggest that the ideal level for rafting the Franklin is between 0.8 and 1.2 metres.  When we arrived, the water was not even touching the gauge.  We estimated that it was about 0.5 metres (0.3 metres below the bottom of the gauge).

However, we thought that with our lack of experience, and the nearby warning sign saying “DO NOT LEARN TO RAFT ON THE FRANKLIN RIVER“, a low water level might be good for us. Continue reading

14 Days on the Franklin River – Introduction

Introduction

The Franklin River is regarded as the last “Wild River” in Tasmania, Australia, winding it’s way from near Lake St Clair to the Gordon River which then flows into Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s West Coast.  After work had already begun on damming the Franklin for a hydro electric scheme it was saved by the protests of “radical conservationists” in 1983.  I was too young to participate in the protests at that time, but I can remember the protests in the streets and on the river (in the news) and I am very grateful to those who fought so hard and took such risks and went through some terrible ordeals in order to save the Franklin River.  The Franklin River is a truly amazing place.

Franklin River at its Confluence with the Collingwood River

The area surrounding the Franklin River is famous for its beauty, its remoteness, its vegetation (including Huon Pines – Largostrobos franklinii), its rock formations and caves (that have evidence of ancient habitation), and for its hostility, having claimed the lives of several rafters. Continue reading

14 Days on the Franklin River – Contents

The 18 articles for this Franklin River rafting adventure (including one for each day of this trip) are linked below, with a brief outline of the highlights from each day.

The articles have been back-dated so that the ‘publication date’ of each article matches the actual date of the events being described in that article.

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