Packraft Training in Oz with Jim Gonski !

[update 1st Oct - interest registered from 14 people. I have PM’ed everyone who expressed interest and we’ll take this to email to figure out dates etc…]

Howdy Packrafters !

Jim Gonski who runs the Alaska Kayak Academy is up for coming to Oz later this year to run packrafting skills and safety workshops. He comes recommended by Roman and teaches Kayaking and Packrafting. Jim proposes to run a two day workshop similar to the Packraft River Safety course detailed on his website.

The course would include:
• Flat water paddling techniques, flipping and re-entry
• Eddy turns , locating eddies and how to progress to smaller eddies on Class II water
• Approaching / avoiding strainers
• River swimming / throw bag work
• Self rescue techniques
• How to run Class III water - how to scout, boat scout, run holes, ferry in fast current, catch micro eddies, surf and perfect “spin on a dime” eddy turns.


To be commercially viable we’d need a minimum of 25 participants all up, this could be two weekends – maybe one in NSW and the other in VIC, with 12 or so people for each weekend.

Location – unless we can get Penrith Whitewater center to reconsider packrafters we’d be looking at a live river instead. For NSW I was thinking the Shoalhaven would be good geographically, but there would need to be a section to accommodate the exercises and provide camping.

Jim reckons that in order to fund himself and another instructor and cover expenses the course would need to be $300 / participant for the weekend.

Timing is around mid – November to mid - December 2012.

Next Steps

If you’re interested then either reply to this thread or email Jim directly: jim (at) kayakcenterak (dot) com Jim may not reply straight away as he could be out rafting or wrestling Moose.

If you have ideas on locations with suitable rivers and reliable water please post.

If you’re outside NSW and reckon you get a group together then post here as well.

Once there is enough commitment on numbers and we have location(s) we can tie down dates etc…

Should be a fun course !

(Disclaimer: I have no commercial affiliation or interest, although I do expect Jim to buy me a beer if we manage to get him down here :slight_smile:)

Interested so far:

Grasshopper (NSW)
Jeremy (NSW)
Fishdejour (NSW)
Lizardboy (NSW
Haydn +1 (VIC)
Ninja (NSW)
Shane (TAS)
Justacouch (NSW)
MickyB (ACT)
Matt B (NSW)
Rich L + 1 (VIC)
Peter R
(also posted on


If the date is right I am in. I do alot of fieldwork around that time,so will only be able to commit when the dates come out though.

Thanks for posting this Grasshopper!



I’d be in and would buy you a beer also. The shoalhaven seems a good choice to me for NSW.

Thanks for the legwork Dale!
I’m in for NSW and may have another person interested as well.
I think the key is choosing somehere with reliable water or a few options within an hour or 2 drive, there are a few things pointing to dryer weather for the coming months.

Late october and the weekend of 17/18 November is out for me.

Off to Hawaii and Canada on Sunday with rafts in tow!



Good to hear from you all.

Thanks for the beer offer Steve :slight_smile: Gus any suggestions on rivers are welcome (and have fun in Canada and Hawaii !). If this goes ahead Jim was planning to get here a few days before and scout the areas we recommend.

In order to get this going this year I reckon we’d need to know numbers by early Oct.

Now where are the Victorians :slight_smile: ?

Sounds great - count me and a mate in for VIC (x2). If the NSW day was around the Snowy’s i’d be happy to travel.
Cheers Haydn.

I’m really keen!
thank sor organising this grasshopper.

Be good to see you there Ninja.

Forgot to mention that Jim can bring spare rafts and gear if there is anyone that wants to try packrafting and is raftless.

I have a second (spare) raft available for use also should anyone need one.


Grasshopper, has this training progressed any?
If it looks like its a goer I would be very interested, and may help with making up the numbers so its viable.
Great effort in organising it as well

Hi RFG - thanks for registering interest :slight_smile: Where are you located ?

With respect to number it looks like if everyone who is interested so far can make it we’re looking around 10 people.

I emailed Jim with an update and he is open to travelling here for one course but this would just be him and no assistant, although that doesn’t bother me.

So is there is one course than NSW is currently where most of the interest is, so we’ll need to see if the Victorians et. al. are up for travelling ?

I think we’ll let the thread run a bit longer and then make a call on location and time.

Grasshopper, I’m in Jindabyne so anywhere south of Sydney would work for me, and any of the local rivers, Thredbo, Snowy, uppper Murray etc. would obviously be perfect, and I could help out with logistics this end if that be the case, and of any assistance.

With the locations of those interested I’m thinking Snowies could be the go. It will accommodate the Victorians, the southern NSW rafters and well - the Sydneysiders will just have to drive :slight_smile:

So RFG - we might put your local knowledge to use. Do we have a river down south that might work ?

Can’t remember when the training was…but in my humble opinion the snowies is a great place to run it. If all else fails the Lower Snowy has guareenteed water, warm, free campin and even has a grade three creek nearby if there has been a bit of rain. It also has easy rapids that are drop pool and in my opinion perfect for all sorts of training.

The only time access has been an issue was the time we did the training!! Never before!!
And if it’s at the snowies you may also strike it lucky with water and have access to a myriad of runs ranging from grade ond to five around jIndy itself (snowy, Thredbo, Jacobs)

My two cents.

Agree with chrisp. Snowies would provide lots of options, but I’m a little biased holding the training locally would make it very easy for me. Lower Snowy would be good off Barry Way, free camping and a couple of good training rapids if water levels right. (I can sort the National Parks approval for training activity in Park as I have inside running there, and I have a vested interest proposal for packrafters there, and seeing this type of training go ahead which I will reveal later) Only issue with lower Snowy River as chrisp suggests is at the moment Barry Way is closed due to Council road works (I think they are reopening in next few days for school holidays). I know they want to do more work before Xmas when it will be closed again. I will see if I can find out when they are scheduling next closure. If lower Snowy is not an option due to access or low water, Thredbo River is always an option. Water temp still a little cool at that time of year with snow melt feed, but no biggie with a wettie or dry suit. Basic camping available at ThredboDiggings or Ngarigo camping areas right next to river, Park Use fees apply however ($16/day/vehicle) if cars have no National Park annual entry pass. Other more civilised camping / accommodation options available nearby in Jindy for those that require them, and relatively cheap at that time of year. Lake in Jindy for flat water (when not windy) options if required. Anyway, quite a few options and happy to go with whatever is best for the majority of the group.

Thanks Chris and RFG for that great info. Sounds like your local knowledge and connections help a lot.

I’ll PM everyone who’s expressed interest so we can start locking down dates and final numbers.

Snowies obviously suits me also. Forgot to mention Peter would be keen on the training so add him to the list if you could Dale, thanks.


Snowies obviously suits me also. Forgot to mention Peter would be keen on the training so add him to the list if you could Dale, thanks.

Done Steve :slight_smile:

OK - this morning I’ve PM’ed / emailed everyone to organise next steps.

Hi Grasshopper,
I was very interested in your proposed training weekend,if dates suited.December would work for me!
I would favour the Snowies as I am located on the far South Coast!
Sorry for the late reply but only just discovered this site and have only just discovered the joys of Packrafting!
Regards Matt