Frenchmans and the irenabyss

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Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RossageRoll » Fri 18 Jan, 2019 9:33 am

Hello fellow bushwalkers!

Due to the unfortunate conditions in the south west, my partner and I have had to redo our plans for our trip this year.

We are thinking about doing frenchmans and walking back out to the highway via the irenabyss but am wondering about how best to minimise scrub bashing and what the water situation is like between the Franklin river and the road. I've never used a yabbie tube before and avoiding it would be great if possible (i'll use one if i have to of course:))

Love to hear about other peoples experiences doing this slightly more challenging walk and the best ways to enjoy it

Thanks :)
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Azza » Fri 18 Jan, 2019 10:25 am

RossageRoll wrote:Hello fellow bushwalkers!

We are thinking about doing frenchmans and walking back out to the highway via the irenabyss but am wondering about how best to minimise scrub bashing and what the water situation is like between the Franklin river and the road. I've never used a yabbie tube before and avoiding it would be great if possible (i'll use one if i have to of course:))
Thanks :)


Don't knock it till you've tried it. Nothing wrong with the yabbie water because its rain water draining straight into the holes it tends to be perfectly clear, perhaps a bit gritty if you scrape the bottom.
If you pick the right hole its possible to get litre(s) out and it really is a saviour.
Conditions are very dry at the moment, so the holes maybe unreliable unless its rained recently, which might mean your best option is to load up at the Franklin.
I remember there being water along the Raglan Range 4wd track, I'd probably take the yabbie hole over water from the ditch next to the old road.

And your best to follow the 4wd track out to Nelson Falls rather than trying to descend to Victoria Pass - which will be scrubby. I've only been out as far as Flat Bluff its all pretty open country out there.
Easy navigation in good visibility.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RossageRoll » Fri 18 Jan, 2019 6:34 pm

What's the water like at maud creek? reliable or not given the dry weather

Hahaha fair enough, I'm dealing with a Canadian partner who is a little weirded out by the lack of water around australia generally and i'll have to do some convincing about using yabbie holes :) thanks for the encouragement though
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Thylaseen » Fri 18 Jan, 2019 9:24 pm

We walked the route 12 months ago and didn't have any issues with water. We carried enough from the Franklin though - didn't get any until Mary's Plains by which time we didn't have a lot left: there was excellent water there flowing in streams below the general level of the plain. The route we took out over the Raglan range didn't have any water either so carried for the day. We had a massive weather change on the way out and it poured - lost the old road on the way down and ended up scrub bashing to pick it up again.

Some pics here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/118621459@N03/albums/72157691394770774
It's out there
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RossageRoll » Sun 20 Jan, 2019 10:06 am

Thanks for the tips guys, incredible pics mate!
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Highplainsdrifter » Sun 27 Jan, 2019 7:54 pm

I walked this route last week and it was fantastic. A few points:
- the river crossing at Irenabyss is knee deep
- there is water in the creeks at Mary Plain, although it's not moving much so we filtered it.
- there was water flowing in the upper reaches of Maud Creek where the track crosses it NW of Flat Bluff
- the walking track from Irenabyss to the Raglan Range is about as distinct as a wallaby trail, and it's worth taking the time to stay on it as it efficiently cuts through scrubby tea tree sections.
Once on the Range the old vehicle track is good but gets more overgrown as you descend. We finished at Nelson Falls and the track was a bit indistinct in the last km. Again, taking the time to stay on the track can save you an hour of scrub bashing to move 1km.
- Don't be put off by any of this. It is a great walk, totally doable if your nav is reasonable and you've got a reasonable level of fitness and endurance. It's an amazing part of the world that not many people visit. A rest day spent exploring Irenabyss is also recommended.
Best of luck with your walk.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby north-north-west » Mon 28 Jan, 2019 8:09 am

Thylaseen wrote:... lost the old road on the way down and ended up scrub bashing to pick it up again.

Yes, there's one spot in particular where it turns and drops through an awkward patch. Very easy to lose the line there. Despite making a careful note of that section on the climb up I still went astray briefly on the way down and had to backtrack a bit.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby philm » Tue 29 Jan, 2019 6:57 am

Hi all

I been looking at this walk for a while. How many days should I allow to go from the Irenabyss to the highway? Would 1 night / 2 days be about right?
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby muddy99 » Tue 29 Jan, 2019 7:24 am

From Ireneabyss the usual thing is to camp one night on Mary Ck Plain. If you get going early enough on the last day you can make the highway just in time for the bus pickup at Victoria Pass (if it's running that day).
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby CasualNerd » Tue 29 Jan, 2019 8:44 am

One night is enough if you're moving reasonably fast. Coming down the old road is pretty quick if it's not too wet and slippery.

If you use NSWTopo's 1:25k maps on avenza, don't bother looking for the tent site marked on the map just above Mary Creek Plain, it definitely doesn't exist !
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Thylaseen » Wed 30 Jan, 2019 8:15 pm

One night/ two days would be needed. It took us a while to locate the track out of Ireneabyss, we then went at a reasonable pace until we struck scrub just before Mary's Ck Plains, so ended up a full day.

Next day we had lunch on top of Flat Bluff after leaving Mary's Plain via a dodgy route through the scrub (will choose a different line next time!). Once you're on the road you can make good progress, although as per previous posts gets a bit indistinct the lower you get.
It's out there
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RossageRoll » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 12:59 pm

So we had a pretty good time on this walk in the end!

Found the track out of the irenabyss ok and had no issues finding the track/route until the last mini-ridge coming into mary ck where we completely lost the track and didn't find it until the base of flat bluff the next day :)

The debate i reckon is: should you just smash through the plain or go around on the eastern ridge? The buttongrass isn't too bad to get through but you better like leeches, people weren't kidding when they said the leeches are bad :). We did it when the weather was quite

We also lost the track low down on the raglan ranges where the old track becomes a watercourse...came out on the highway about 150m west of the nelson's falls carpark which is pretty good overall i reckon

Personally I didn't particularly find the scrub bashing was worth it, admittedly it was very smoky, to the point where we couldnt see flat bluff all day on the plains. Even still the views you get of the bush (on raglan ranges and from flat bluff) isn't particularly unique compared to the walk into the irenabyss. I would recommend people just walk down to the irenabyss (which is majestic) and then back out.

Keen to hear what others think though? Anything I missed that someone else really enjoyed?
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Thylaseen » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 8:35 pm

We enjoyed the last two days as much as the first two. Crossing the Franklin, the different views of the Cap (spectacular in fine weather), and offtrack route finding: all very enjoyable.

As with any walk in the Tassie wilderness the enjoyment is as much about facing and dealing with the unplanned or unexpected you find along the way.

We had planned for a five day walk but did a mammoth second day (two days in one) so we could exit a day early - knowing the forecast wasn't that good the further the week went on. Dealing with thicker than expected scrub, weather changes, etc.
It's out there
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby CasualNerd » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 10:33 pm

RossageRoll wrote:Found the track out of the irenabyss ok and had no issues finding the track/route until the last mini-ridge coming into mary ck where we completely lost the track and didn't find it until the base of flat bluff the next day :)

The debate i reckon is: should you just smash through the plain or go around on the eastern ridge?

We went way too far around the Eastern edge and I can't recommend it. It was raining and I think we kept walking to avoid getting the map or phone out. Ended up cutting hard left back across to the patch of eucalyptus right in the middle North of the plain and realised we should have cut straight across. I was aiming for the tent site marked on the 1:25k Avenza map, but there's nothing there at all.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 05 Feb, 2019 7:19 am

We traversed along the top of the eastern ridge. No leeches. :-)

We did this on the advice of people that have walked both routes (ie, through the plain and traversing the ridge top around the plain).

Apart from leeches, the main advantage of the ridge top is that there is not descent into the plains, and therefore much less of an ascent up onto Flat Bluff. This ascent is also a lot less steep that the route from the plains.

There are still some significant bands of scrub on this route. From what I've been told, the amount and difficulty of the scrub bashing is similar on both routes.

The only advantage of the plains route that I'm aware of is that there is running water. On the ridge route, we had to rely on yabbie holes (no problems there - there are plenty) and what we carried up from the Franklin.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby north-north-west » Tue 05 Feb, 2019 11:29 am

Interesting. I'd always assumed that the plains were the only viable route unless you wanted to suffer. Now I'm tossing up which way to go.
What sort of scrub is it? Looks like a fair bit of tea-tree on that ridge.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 05 Feb, 2019 12:21 pm

It was mostly tea tree with some high cutting grass in some areas. And a lovely mix of both in a few spots. There may have been other types of scrub here and there, along the ridge, but I can't remember. If you look at the aerial imagery, you can see that it is a little worse on one side of the ridge-top than the other. I think we mostly used the wrong side of the ridge-top.

If using Bub's Hill (which I do NOT recommend), there is band of fagus near the saddle, and a nasty area of ferns-obscuring-loose-rock-on-steep-slope at the start of the descent.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RedQuinn » Thu 21 Feb, 2019 6:03 pm

Thanks all for the info. Considerig doing Frenchmans and Irenabyss in April as a replacement for the W Arthurs if the area there is still closed. Re the crossing of the river at Irenabyss. How do people negotiate this and get their packs across? One of our party is prepared to swim, nude, with a rope and somehow make a line to lift the rest of the packs across. Is this feasible from your experience?
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby CasualNerd » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 8:34 am

RedQuinn wrote:Thanks all for the info. Considerig doing Frenchmans and Irenabyss in April as a replacement for the W Arthurs if the area there is still closed. Re the crossing of the river at Irenabyss. How do people negotiate this and get their packs across? One of our party is prepared to swim, nude, with a rope and somehow make a line to lift the rest of the packs across. Is this feasible from your experience?

If you're lucky there'll be a rafting party there and they'll let you borrow a raft to transfer gear. Otherwise it's probably a bit wide to expect to keep the packs out of the water, take a few big garbage bags to float them and swim ?
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 8:50 am

RedQuinn wrote:Thanks all for the info. Considerig doing Frenchmans and Irenabyss in April as a replacement for the W Arthurs if the area there is still closed. Re the crossing of the river at Irenabyss. How do people negotiate this and get their packs across? One of our party is prepared to swim, nude, with a rope and somehow make a line to lift the rest of the packs across. Is this feasible from your experience?


We swum (in shorts rather than nude). Then threw the end of a rope across (with a stick tied to it to make it easier to throw). The packs were tied one at a time to the rope and pulled across, then the rope was thrown back for the next pack, etc.

The backs were carefully waterproofed for this, with everything bagged up inside, and the entire pack placed into a large garbage bag outside. The garbage bag was tied as tightly as possible around the rope.

I don't think I would be quite so tedious about it all next time. I would certainly bag everything inside the back carefully, but I'm not sure if I would bother with the rope and the outer garbage bag. If the pack gets a bit wet, then so be it. I can empty it and turn it upside down for a few minutes to get rid of 90% of any water that got in. And its not far to swim, so I reckon just floating the pack across and pushing it while swimming would be OK.

You just need to start well upstream and be prepared to drift a fair way downstream. There may be a bit of current there on some occasions.

It's also worth noting that the water there can rise by SIX METRES after heavy rain (because the water over a large catchment area all gets funnelled through that tiny gap). We noticed flood debris caught in the trees TWO METRES HIGHER the camp sites on the northern side of the river (where we camped the first time). I think the camp sites on the south side would be above the usual flood levels (I camped there on a rafting trip a few years later).

The southern camp sites are nicer, but when walking out that norther route, I'd use the northern camp sites, as I'd rather swim across while warm at the end of the day, than while cold at the start of the day.

A paddle up the river is well worth it, if you have anything to paddle in/on! See: http://bushwalk.com/blog/blog/2012/01/2 ... -rest-day/
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby CBee » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 4:27 pm

Not sure if this can be of any help:
if I know I'm going to swim across a lake or river while bushwalking, I carry a big drybag, a Sea To Summit one. I put the backpack inside the drybag and before rolling the edge I make sure plenty of air goes inside before locking it. Then the bag will float in front of me. Easy.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby Thylaseen » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 8:38 pm

We used our sleeping mats. Our rucksacks were packed as we normally pack them with no extra pre-cautions (Andrew uses dry bags with no packliner, I use packliner with some items in dry bags).

We didn't have any issues at all.

Tied the rucksacks to a line as insurance but we had low flows so no issues crossing. Waded for half the width, swam the last bit but not very deep - easier to swim to avoid rocks on the bottom.

A lot would depend on the flows coming through. With higher flows you would need to start further up stream and drift across.

See photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/118621459@N03/sets/72157691394770774
It's out there
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RedQuinn » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 10:24 pm

Thanks for the reply’s everyone. It’s all good info and great to tap into your experience. I guess it depends on conditions / weather as to how we tackle it on the day but we’ll take what you say on board and be ready!

Re: wearing shorts on the swim - that’s what I would have thought but this particular fellow is adamant he needs to be nude! Not sure why, but he’s looking forward to it!!
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RedQuinn » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 10:27 pm

Ps: some great photos!
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby danman » Sun 24 Feb, 2019 9:59 am

If you were to go the other way... ie. starting at Nelson Falls, where do you head in?

I noticed a few hundred metres up the road from Nelson's there's an old farm gate and fallen down bridge. Is this where the old 4x4 track starts from?
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby CasualNerd » Sun 24 Feb, 2019 3:22 pm

Yep, that's where you should come out, a few hundred metres up the road on the opposite side.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby north-north-west » Tue 05 Mar, 2019 8:26 pm

danman wrote:If you were to go the other way... ie. starting at Nelson Falls, where do you head in?

I noticed a few hundred metres up the road from Nelson's there's an old farm gate and fallen down bridge. Is this where the old 4x4 track starts from?


Yes. The old road is fairly overgrown but it's easy enough to follow, if a bit damp and leechy. Once around Bradshaws it starts to improve and the higher stretches are quite good. Excellent views from Flat Bluff.
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Re: Frenchmans and the irenabyss

Postby RossageRoll » Wed 13 Mar, 2019 2:35 pm

Man on the way down we totally lost the 4wd track once we hit the same altitude as the road. CB *&$# going back though, just bashed towards the noise of the highway. I also just used a pack liner filled with air and just swam across the (very quiet) Franklin. Hot day though so the dip was lovely
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