Rafting the Franklin River
Just how special is a rafting trip along the Franklin River? Well, don't take our word for it. In 2012, the leading US magazine, Outside, listed a trip on Tasmania's Franklin River as the best whitewater rafting journey on earth. The other contenders included rivers in Tibet, the US, Bhutan, Peru and Zambia.
Then there's the Editor of Australia's Outdoor magazine, Justin Walker, who went down the river in 2012; "The Franklin River trip was probably the best trip I have done since being Editor of Outdoor - I would do it all again tomorrow."
So, what's the allure? The simple answer is the same as why Tasmania herself is such an attraction – pure, unspoiled wilderness.
Commercial rafting on the Franklin began in the late 1970's and despite the countless numbers of adventurous souls who have braved the cold and wet conditions between the Collingwood Bridge and the confluence of the Franklin and Gordon rivers over the decades, those who raft it today agree that the river is in fine shape – better than ever perhaps. You can still drink the tannin stained water straight from the boat, not many river journeys can boast that simple pleasure.
Then there's the genuine expedition feeling. Packed with everything you need for the trip in barrels and drybags, typically over nine days, once you drop in there's pretty much no way out. As you forge your way through the rugged south west of Tasmania, through deep gorges, quiet pools and magnificent temperate rainforest, the sense of isolation becomes apparent as it dawns on you that apart from the Aboriginal paintings in the Kutikina Cave you will have seen very little evidence of human impact along the river.
Only the bravest, or most foolish, souls would ever consider tackling the Franklin on their own. Safety should be considered above all else and it pays to travel on the river with someone who knows the difference between their eddy and their river right. Too little water, you can't raft, too much and you'll be getting the kit out to portage around tricky sections and rapids that really should be avoided by anyone who has no river knowledge. Lose your luggage because it's not properly secured and you'll be shivering for the rest of the trip.
The names of the various rapids and places along the Franklin also help to conjure up expectations of the adventure of a lifetime. Thunderrush, The Sanctum, Jaw Breaker, Sidewinder and the Great Ravine are just a few that spring to mind. And let's not forget The Cauldron, The Churn and Nasty Notch.
Named after the early explorer Sir John Franklin, the Franklin River holds a special place in Australian history. It has inspired a conservation movement, best- selling books, iconic images and of course all those who experienced her unique beauty on a rafting expedition.