Mr Smitten Carl Mason was Joined by 5 fellow adventures for a 6 day expedition along 120 km of Tasmania's Franklin river in early January 2011. Included on the trip were Tassie paddling legend Daniel 'Harry' Harris, North west Taz paddlers Bryan Gorrie, Justin Cripps and Andrew Jarman and Carl's team Danger offsider Ian Smith.
The first day was spent shuffling cars between Strahan and the Collingwood River where the paddling started. An hour later and the Junction of the Franklin itself is reached and then its off into the Wilderness. We camped at the Irenabys that night and the next day walked up Frenchman's Cap. Its over 1500m to the summit with the start of the walk at around 350m. From the river and back takes around 8 hours and by the end we were all ready for a nice dip in the river. Whilst on the Summit Carl achieved cellphone reception and was thus able to put together a few last minute Smitten deals as well as a quick chat with the family. As for the rest of us, other than wanting to throw Carl's phone off the top we had a relaxing lunch and took in the magnificent views, which ranged from Cradle mountain in the north, the southern ocean in the west, to the Arthur range in the east.
in the Irenabys
The next day we paddled down to the Great Ravine and camped above the Churn rapid at a campsite first used by the Hawkins and Dean party in 1959. They were the first canoeists to complete a full descent of the Franklin. It took them 3 attempts to achieve it though. This campsite was one of the trip highlights with small caves for bedrooms (complete with resident glowworms) and a large rocky overhang to shelter from the rain.
The next day was spent paddling and portaging our way through the ravine, with a side trip into Livingston Cut. This is a very narrow canyon that is hundreds of meters deep and joins the Franklin in the Great Ravine between the Corruscades and Thunderush rapids. The deeper you go into the cut, the more isolated and primeval the atmosphere becomes. A wonderful place worthy of more exploration in future.
After the trickiest of the portages at the Cauldron, we cruised down to Rafters Basin and spent the night there with a few well earned ports and rums.
The next day took us through some of the prettiest parts of the river in the Propsting gorge and Glen Calder. Also some of the best rapids to paddle, including 'Ol' 3 Tiers and Newlands Cascades.
Carl and Ian enjoying Rock Island Bend Glen Calder
That night we camped at Flat island where once again a few ports and rums were enjoyed along with another of Harrys culinary masterpieces. By this stage of the trip it was becoming apparent which members of the party were wearing Smitten thermals and which members weren't. Lets just say some people were nicer to be near than others.
After a leisurely breakfast of pancakes (thanks Bryan), we headed off on the flnal leg to the Gordon River. On the way we called in at Kutukina Cave, inhabited by Aboriginals during the last ice age 12,000 years ago. A very interesting place. We also explored Pengana cave which has tunnels and passageways that take you out onto a balcony overlooking the river. The return route we took back to the boats involved some very sketchy rock climbing down some very slimy rock.
Due to our very relaxed start to the day we only made it to our final destination at Sir John Falls on the Gordon at 8pm. Luckily our pick up boat 'Stormbreaker' was already tied up ready for the next mornings departure, and so our fresh supply of beer was at hand.
Bryan and Andrew enjoying
the 1st beer at Sir John Falls.
All up a fantastic weeks paddling was enjoyed by all, and another great test of Smittens thermal range, which of course it passed with flying colours.