An early start today, we leave Launceston at 6.00am and drive to our put-in point at Collingwood Bridge. We aim to be there around 12:00 noon and here we will inflate and load our rafts. Before getting on the water the guides will provide a safety briefing and instruction in paddling the raft. Our destination this day is the junction of the Franklin and Collingwood rivers or downstream to the Aesthesia Ravine.
Today we will tackle the Log Jam, Nasty Notch, Descension Gorge and float calmly through the Irenabyss and camp just on the side of the river below the gorge. We spend the evening relaxing at our idyllic camp deep in the wilderness. While your guides prepare a hearty evening meal, why not take a cup of tea down to the river to look for the wildlife that comes out at dusk.
Weather permitting we climb to Frenchman's Cap from our base camp at Irenabyss. Trekking to the peak is challenging and immensely rewarding; an absolute highlight of Tasmanian bushwalking. The incomparable views from the top take in a vast expanse of the wild and rugged south-west World Heritage Area. Having two days set aside allows us some flexibility and gives us maximum chance of climbing Frenchman's in fine weather.
Today is a long and beautiful day of rafting, with some interesting paddling and numerous campsites along the river banks. The mood of the river depends completely on how much rain has fallen recently. Keep your eye out for the red flowers of climbing heath cascading down the surrounding rock faces. Tonight we enjoy another feast prepared by your guides, then turn in for a night under the open sky.
We reach the Great Ravine today and the first major portage at the Churn. There are some challenging sections along the river prior to reaching the Churn. We pass Blushrock Falls, named for the red tinge in the rock. As we paddle look out for a view of Frenchman's Cap from the river. Your passionate guides will tell you about the Franklin's famous history, and also intriguing lesser known tales that have come to them over their years of adventuring on this wild river. Tonight we camp at Coruscades Camp within the Great Ravine.
Today takes us to Deliverance Reach, the end of the Great Ravine, and on to Rafter's Basin. After breakfast we paddle and portage through Coruscades, Livingstone's Cut, Thunderush, the Masterpiece and the Cauldron to the Mousehole a narrow recess with a cat-like boulder overlooking the river. It is only a 2km paddle now from the Mousehole to Rafter's Basin where we camp for the night by Interlude Creek. The terrain around our camp tonight is somewhat of a prelude of the forecoming Lower Franklin.
Depending on the weather today our destination is The Black Forest or Newlands Cascades. Life on the river is extremely dominated by the weather and your guides are adaptable, with a great plan B no matter what mother nature throws down at them... it's all part of the adventure! Today we paddle through Prospsting Gorge and some of the Franklin's best rapids. After lunch we navigate the longest rapid on the river: Newlands Cascades. At the bottom of these rapids there is a long, large overhang which makes a cosy place to spend the night.
Greet the morning with a hot drink in hand, watching the sun creep down the sides of the valley towards our camp. Huon Pines and Leatherwood trees drapes themselves elegantly along the banks of the river. Listen and look for the birds that flit amongst their branches. The paddling today is relatively straightforward, to Blackman's Bend through the deep temperate rainforest of the lower river that was protected by the environmental protests of the early 1980s.
Today our adventure takes us past Double Fall, Big Fall, and Galleon Bluff, which is said to look similar to the sterns of several ships jutting out into the dark water. Shortly after we float under the impressive overhang of Verandah Cliffs. Our camp tonight is at Sir John Falls on the Gordon River, about 5km downstream of the junction of the Gordon and Franklin. The small wharf in front of our campsite is the perfect place from which to have a swim in the Gordon River, and to look out for white bellied sea eagles, as your guides prepare our final evening meal.
This morning you are collected by Stormbreaker yacht and cruise down the length of the river before reaching Macquarie Harbour. Take the chance to kick back on the deck and enjoy the views over the broad expanse of the Gordon River. In Strahan we are met by our bus, which will transfer us back to Launceston. Arrival in Launceston may vary from late afternoon to late evening. We usually celebrate with a group farewell dinner this evening.