Desperate....please help meeeeeeeeeee!

Yo. So, not much water hey? Who’s got some info on doing a three day trip on the shoalhaven? How far down could I get in three days from oallen? How long would oallen to bungonia ck take (where there is an exit). And I haven’t done it below Peggie’s, but would it just be a portage-fest in the PR? Where can I go???

Shhesh, sounds fun.

Hi Chris,

We are hoping to do Oallen Ford to Bungonia Creek later this year if suitable river heights, flights, dog sitters and time off work match up…probably dreaming. Have paddled a decent amount of rivers in SE Aus and Shoalhaven is one of if not my favourite. Both times I did the trip at Easter. Friends are planning on going this Easter but I doubt I can fit it in then.

Have kayaked/C1 and large rafted Oallen to Sewell’s Point twice quite a while ago but haven’t paddled downstream of Sewell’s Point as yet. Have been intending to get back there for the last couple of years with packrafts but the stars haven’t aligned as yet. We were also looking at exiting via Bungonia as it reduces the car shuffle distance and complexity enormously and it saves almost 20km of flat (!!) water that you would have to do if you go all the way to the dam. It also eliminates the private land access issue.

Both times we took 3 days to paddle to the base of Sewell’s Point (and another half day+ to walk out with very heavy gear). I suspect/guess that Bungonia might only be another day’s paddle. Dont quote me on that though as I am writing this without checking my maps or the old NSW Paddling Guidebook that details the trip. The climb out of Sewell’s is a 600m vertical climb if I remember rightly and is onto private property which can be very difficult to get access to. Exiting via Bungonia with packrafts makes much more sense.

If at the right height you should only have to portage two major drops that I can remember (one being 7-10m drop). I am not a local to the area so only have limited knowledge but for the past few years I have kept an odd eye on the BOM Hillview gauge and it has rarely seemed to have been at a suitable level for very long. The first time I paddled it at 0.95-1.05 m and the second at 0.68 I think. The latter is extremely (!) low although we still managed to slide and scrape our way down in hard-shell boats all of the normally paddled rapids and drops. I wouldn’t recommend it though below 0.85 and think ideally you want it about 1.1 or between 0.9 and 1.15. It was recently at a reasonable paddleable level up until 2 days ago.

For the benefit of others this is a trip to be taken seriously and should only be attempted by experienced whitewater paddlers trained in river rescue skills! It has lots of potential for vertical pins/entrapments due to the huge number of drops although is generally a very ‘clean’ river. The upper Shoalhaven is of a drop pool nature dropping 250 vertical metres over the 35 km to Sewell’s. You paddle 100 m and then drop 2m, you paddle 50m and drop 1m, you paddle 300m and drop 4 m, etc, etc. The upper section is more made up of drops than long or complex rapids whilst the lower section is more standard longish easier rapids. Whilst not as remote as the Franklin it is still a remote area due to its limited access points.

Hope this helps.

Thanks Mark! If the levels are good then I would be kayaking; so I was really wondering how low I can push it by doing it in a Packraft. PRs do seem to manage low water better… the walk out of bungonia would take about 90minutes I reckon up to the top, along the path, so that’s pretty easy. Hope it rains soon.

Although I can’t really recommend it below 0.85 we still had some fun paddling, had a ball and loved the trip. Guessing if you move quick and light you might be able to do it in 3 days. Let us know how it goes.

A bit late to the party…I put in at Welcome reef 10am and made Sewells by 2.30pm the following day.
I had a reasonable load (10 days worth of shit) and portaged the big ones. I paddled everything I could to make distance and the level hovered around a meter on the Hillview gauge.