Saturday, 17 April 2010

Australia #1 - Franklin river expedition - day 1-3

Finally back in Australia after more than 7 years! The first 2 weeks were in Tasmania of which 10 days a fully organised rafting expedition along the Franklin river. I have guided organised tours in the past, but have never been a participant myself, so that was a new but quite pleasant experience. It would have been nice to do this trip ourselves with the packrafts, but we just don't have any experience with proper rivers yet so that would have been foolish. But with this trip we had 2 experienced river guides, who turned out to be very good cooks as well (one of the advantages of travelling by raft is that you can take lots of food), and who guided us safely down the Franklin. The group itself was an interesting mixture of people with a range of backgrounds, but with a common interest in the environment and the history of the Franklin as well as the outdoors itself, leading to interesting discussions in the evenings.

The trip started on the Collingwood river with warm sunny weather but also very low water and the first day was more dragging and heaving the boat rather than rafting. The second day, now on the Franklin river, was a bit better, but we still got stuck on the bottom every now and then and there were some portages over log jams and tight rapids. We camped at the end of the beautiful and serene gorge Irenabyss.

My rafting outfit

Loading the rafts. The barrels and eskies are for the food.

For some of the rapids you have to either line the boat or even carry the boat and gear.


Camping is under a tarp

The trip description mentions that on the third day there is the opportunity to climb to the summit of Frenchman's Cap and many in the group, including us, were very keen on this. The guides did their best to discourage us (the weather forecast was for rain on day 3, none of the previous trips that season had been able to get to the summit (our trip was the last of the season), we would have to paddle long days to make up for the lost day), but we were very lucky with the weather and on day 3 we hiked with 4 other participants and one of the guides to the summit of Frenchman's Cap. First a steep climb through forest to get out of the river valley, then along the ridge with great views and the final climb to the summit. Ten years ago we walked in from the road, a 2-3 day walk, but that time we turned back just below the summit because of poor visibility, so it was great to reach the top this time.

Hiking up Frenchman's Cap on day 3

Frenchman's Cap is the white quartzite mountain to the right

The top

Top of Frenchman's Cap

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