Murchison River Tasmania

I have searched widely and seen a couple of comments mentioning trips down the Murchison but i’m just after further thoughts. The upper Murchison is relatively remote and hard to get a fix on how far down to plan to enter.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, even if it is some time before you read this ( in no hurry as we live locally)…

Doing the Eldons with the extra weight of a packraft… you mustnt like your knees to much :slight_smile:
Do you mean doing a full traverse and then trying to make it down to the river at the foothills of High Dome or taking the spur that starts near Castle Mtn and heads in the direction of Nereus to the valley floor? I havent done it so i cant add anything constructive but ill try to wake one of the members who has

That will work just fine. The usual caveat about experience in Tassie scrub applies, because it will be difficult country. I emphasise again; difficult. Please do not attempt this if you are not already an experienced off track Tassie bushwalker. If you are relatively experienced OFF-TRACK in S.W. Tasmania, then it is a fair objective. The Eldons themselves are relatively straightforward if you have the skills, fitness and experience for such trips, and the descent to the river will be interesting whichever route you choose.

The river will be easy and pleasant. My access route to the Murchison was via The Guardians and the saddle between them and Horizontal Hill. Once in the valley you will enjoy easy paddling. The paddle across Lake Murchison is a bit tedious and prone to headwinds.

Be sure of your retreat options during the approach if you find you have underestimated the effort required.

Have fun.

J Mc.

(thanks for the alert Van D.)

thanks guys

I don’t like the Dome Hill route, Bolts. You would be cutting off too much of the nice part of the river. We found it negotiable (but small) from fairly high up, and that would tempt me to consider the High Dome option. It will be satisfying to complete, and hard work is, after all, only hard work.

A quick search of my own posting history on this forum found the passage below from 2008. Although written for Duke (Eliam H.) who was considering the eastern approach, it may be of interest:

"I did the Murchison just with my wife, about 15 years ago (approx 1993). It’s a great paddle, but it’s a job to get in and a job to get out! I doubt it’s been done very often in the last 15 years, so you should find it quite pristine.

We dropped in from the saddle between Horizontal Hill and the Guardians. You can approach from either direction, there is slightly more scrub from the Horizontal Hill side, but more climbing if you go over The Guardians as we did. Having previously done the full Gould/Guardians/Horizontal circuit, we chose the higher route because we knew it’s a nice walk. You go virtually all the way to the end of the Guardians (via Gould Plateau) and then there’s an improbable-looking descent down the crags to the left, (to the south) that brings you nicely down to the boulder-field in the Horizontal-Guardians saddle. You bash on down through nice myrtle forest to the valley floor; I recall a bit of Horizontal scrub in the bottom. It’s a U-shaped ex-glacial valley up there, so it’s a bit flat across to the river, and the flat bit is where the scrub is slightly annoying for an hour or so. When you get to the river, it’s almost big enough, just wade downstream a short distance and you can get in. We spent a couple of beautiful days on very easy bouncy water; there’s a great sense of remoteness and it is generally a delightful paddle. You could bag Mt. Nereus on the way (doing it over Macs Mt. from the Labyrinth is a drag.) Canning Peak would also be a nice bag. When you get down to the Bluff River, I suggest you camp prior to pushing across Lake Murchison. You can explore upstream in the Bluff River; it looks a really nice stream. Once you turn the corner onto the flat water of the Murchison Impoundment you really need to keep plugging away at it until you reach the access road at the far end. For us it was a hard day. I ended up towing my wife a lot of the way into strong headwinds. We found very few opportunities to beach for a break on Lake Murchison. For lunch we bobbed about in the middle of the lake for fear of puncturing on the dead sticks at each side. I scrambled onto the branch of a submerged tree to access my rucsac for food. Eventually we reached the end of the lake with tired arms at dusk on New Year’s Eve. We were 5.5 days from Cynthia Bay to Tullah using older heavier equipment with fixed paddles in the scrub. You should probably expect 5 days all-up but obviously have a little spare food for unforseens."

Incidentally, the traverse from Eldon Peak to Eldon Bluff is sensational. You will have a great adventure, and I like the scope of your project. Great to see other Tasmanians gearing up for this kind of trip, as I know Van D. and his friends are also doing.



Thanks again J Mc.


I would ask, J Mc, if your keeping an eye on this… if you recall the month/rainfall in the lead up to your trip? We wont have a lot of choice but if it hasn’t rained (or has pelted down all week) may help decisions as we get closer to High Dome. Any thoughts appreciated. Cheers

Sorry for the delay Bolts, I usually only check this forum once or twice a year so if you would like to discuss anything with me, it’s best to alert me with a message.

The Murchison would be relatively safe at high levels. There are no nasty gorges or rapids.
At low levels the first section may be shallow and scrappy but it will be easy to walk downstream until you can get in.

Take your chances on this river, on other rivers water level is more critical.

Cheers, J.

Ahh, thanks J Mc, will do. I think i am getting a picture from what youv’e said