Colo River trip – Canoe Creek to Bob Turners track
Gauge: Upper Colo 1.65 to 1.45
It seems that if you are a pack rafter within a 3 hour radius of Sydney you have either done or want to do this trip. Certainly it’s a beautiful wild stretch of river and has been a liloing trip for donkeys years. Whenever I hear lilo I immediately think packraft and I’ve been keen to get out here for the past 3-4 years. It seemed for a time that you could anticipate good water in the Colo based on my ‘unavailable for paddling’ calendar but thankfully I was finally able to paddle this trip with Scott and Andrew couple of weeks back.
It was worth the wait.
Here are a few observations for the handful of people who check out this forum and would want to do this trip, there are good reports and blogs out there as well but here are my thoughts
Access: I was always a bit concerned about the dirt roads given my low slung 2wd but can report at the time we did this trip the dirt sections were easily navigable in 2wd. Entry and exit points are accessed off the Putty Road, the dirt into Bob Turners is in very good nick and is only 3 and a bit km anyway. Likewise the road into Canoe Creek was also very good, at 9km it’s a touch longer. There had been a bunch of rain before and some during our trip and the roads held up well , sometimes those dirt roads in the Blue Mountains have hilly bits that can get super nasty after rain but not so here. Regardless if you don’t think you can get through just add a couple of hours to your trip plan for the walk in.
Time: this is an easy two day trip at the levels we were on it at. We didn’t get away on the river until about 1pm. Whilst Andrew and I left Canberra before sparrow fart I was still my habitual 30 minutes late to the meeting point and Scott habitually did not use this time wisely to repack his stuff, waiting until we reached Canoe creek carpark for that. Despite this, Scott realising half way down the hill that he had left his car keys in my car and Andrew losing his paddle near the end of day one we still made it to Angorawa creek junction by 6pm and were at the car at Bob Turners track by 3pm the following day after getting away about 8am.
Gauge heights: Upper Colo gauge on the BOM site seems to reflect conditions best. I’ve heard talk of 1m minimum etc (mainly for Bob Turners down) and really any height would suffice if you are happy to just relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery and are happy to scrape down or portage the rapids.
We paddled the river at 1.65 at the put in which was down to 1.45 by the time we finished. Based on that I think the minimum for a good paddle with little scarping would be 1.5m at put in (assuming on a falling river with no significant rain forecast) 1.8m probably about ideal, maybe 2m around maximum … but I would be guessing. The pics attached will give you an idea of what we had anyway. The river seems to peak about 24-36 hours after a rain event and falls pretty quickly so it’s tough to get perfect
The River: what a beautiful stretch of landscape, akin to some of the grand Blueys architecture but a lot more closed in. The rapids are really nice as well !. At our water levels the section from Canoe Creek to Angowra where we camped the first night had probably half a dozen decent grade 2 -3 rapids. We scouted everything given the bouldery nature of the rapids and possibility of wood in the water. To be honest I didn’t find this beginner country … you can get away with a lot in a pack raft but would probably enjoy more with some paddling experience as some of the rapids have tricky bits. Think it’s worth having a spare paddle as I’ve seen other reports of the paddle eating nature of the rapids and certainly on our trip Andrew missed his line on one rapid and lost his under the boulders in the ensuing carnage. Thankfully he found a half paddle at the same point otherwise hand paddling out would have been painful
The section down from Angorawa to the King rapid was mostly boat scoutable and grade 2 with maybe one or two slightly more tricky bits, more water comes in after the Wollamgambe junction as well. We portaged King rapid which looked awesome but the dogleg at the end looked well beyond our skill level. Below King there were two nice grade 3 rapids, the best of the trip for mine, some easier stuff and plenty of long tranquil pools
Anyway hope this helps, pics and vids at link below. Thanks Andrew and Scott for a great trip and company