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Adventure Travel: Rafting the Franklin River

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In the 80s and 90s, the shortest commercial rafting trip offered on Tasmania’s iconic Franklin River was 9 days with some tours up to 13 days duration. Trips often involved arduous portages and days were spent in camp waiting for the river level to drop to a comfortable point… if we knew what that was.

Formed in 2003, Water By Nature Tasmania, using knowledge and experience gained working with Peregrine Adventures, formulated and evolved techniques to easily and efficiently negotiate many of the often difficult portages.

Food on some of the early trips was porridge everyday for breakfast, salami, dry bread and cheese for lunch and corned beef and white sauce for dinner cooked on a smoky camp fire. These days fuel stoves, stainless nesting pots and eskies enable the storage and preparation of fresh produce for the entire tour. Cooked breakfasts with brewed coffee, buffet style lunches and dinners such as eye fillet steak, prawns, Thai salad, vegetarian Mexican salad and gourmet pizza are enjoyed.

What was once sometimes a character building exercise in survival for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts has become a tour the moderately fit person can undertake with relative comfort and safety.

Satellite phones have replaced the 4 kilo “flying doctor” HF radios and enabled access to fairly reliable weather forecasts, 406 Mhz epirbs and twin engine helicopters have lowered emergency response time. Watershed dry bags(“drybags” that are actually dry) and large self bailing rafts have made rafting the Franklin River generally a very pleasant experience.

Water By Nature Tasmania in December 2016 ran the full raft-able length of the Franklin from the Collingwood River on the Lyell Hwy to Sir John Falls in 3 days, this was with 2 young family groups. The most popular tour on the river is the 7 day full river which allows plenty of time to explore and relax in camp. These tours depart Sundays and are normally scheduled when the river levels are typically above average that is October to Mid January and mid March to April.

 

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