Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Does anyone know if they will allow you to use a packraft at penrith whitewater centre?


Perhaps you could phone or email them.

cant see why not, I would just rock up and pay for recreational paddling, you can do this with other private boats, kayaks, rafts cant see why a pack raft would be any different. Might want to strap a bit of weight to the front though otherwise you might be doing a spot of swimming.

Gus; great minds think alike (and, of course, fools never differ). Gizzabel if you’re going out for the day, I’d be interested.


Cheers Guys,
I just got the feeling they may not have seen too many packrafts before and may right them off as pool toys!
Duke, from the website it looked like just whitewater kayaks and the large multi person whitewater rafts they supply. . If they allow other private craft as you suggest then hopefully its a go’er! What would you reccomend for adding weight, i guess a pack is the obvious choice…?

I found this, although not from the Penrith whiewater sight and it does say draft up the top it seems to give an idea of Penrith Whitewater Centre’s position.
PWS reserves the right to refuse the use of only equipment we consider to be unsafe or unsuitable for use at our venue.
• Boats must be of whitewater design with suitable buoyancy to float in grade 3 whitewater. Have bow and stern loops and paddled with a spray deck if designed to be used with one.

Jules, it would be good to get there in the next months or two, will be in touch.


We have some pack rafts which we took down the Jane R in Tasmania in February…Thanks Duke for your email…We wanted to test them at Penrith Whitewater and they refused us with a whole lot of ignorant statements about the boats which we knew not to be true. We said we wanted to test the boats for use in a remote area…but they saw no value in the arguement that if they were as bad as they said it would be better for us to find out at PWW than somewhere in Enkidu Gorge a week from help! I thought it was a very poor response and may write to them.

So go to PWW aware of a possible negative reaction.
Peter K

Digging this one up from a while ago…I took a drive out to Penrith again yesterday to alleviate the boredom that injury brings. I was Ill prepared to go through the “Why not packrafts?”, with the staff so used the time to watch, learn, and form some of my own ideas and questions.

Firstly, I know its stating the obvious but the place screams packraft. It would be the ideal place to gain essential safety and technical skills, and build plenty of general paddling experience. I’ll just start with a few random thoughts…(packraft related…)

1 - I think it is imperative that kayaker’s get involved if the process of gaining access is proving difficult. There are a few that seem interested already.
2 - It seems the biggest problem so far is a simple lack of understanding about packrafting at the facility.
3 - Maybe doing the 2 day intro course in a kayak first would be compulsory/beneficial?..I am very keen to do it anyway…and 2nd hand playboats are cheap!
4 - Proposal of specific times or days that packrater’s could use the facility so it doesn’t interfere with other schedules?
5 - Maybe new shape boats with spraydecks only for their marginally better rolling capacity??? I have no experience with this yet.
6 - If paddlers have the technical ability, fitness, and the packraft’s structural integrity has been proven worldwide, what other factors (safety or otherwise) are halting the process?
I know these questions have been asked by some and an attempt has been made to answer them.
7 - The water seems quite pushy so making sure that you have the lower grade skills before rocking up to do any potential course they may offer in the future would help.
8 - I remember when snowboards were banned at ski resorts simply because they were new…and it was water skiing only at Penrith Cable-ski park…Now it’s all about wakeboards!
My point is, it may only be time and acceptance.
9 - I know nothing about the financial implications, but I would think it could be quite beneficial with the rate packrafting is progressing.
10 - I watched two guys in an inflatable sit-on-top double kayak run the entire course with no paddles, backwards, flipping, swimming??? There must be something I’m missing…???

Anyway, I’m content to listen and learn for now and maybe hear some others thoughts again on the best way forward. I still believe doing some kayaking out there and getting kayakers involved may be the key…To some, we’re still a bunch of geeky bushwalkers looking for a theme park experience…Not so.

Some pics from yesterday…

Darren - some good thoughts there ! Thanks for activating this post as I’ve had my mind on where to find whitewater training. I’m also in Sydney so this is an obvious choice. I checked out the website last night and plan to do the first two courses as a ‘kayaker’. I figure this is better than no training and could be a good ‘stealth’ approach to raise packrafts :slight_smile:

Jules asked them about a training a while back and got a pretty negative response. Perhaps if we had 10 or so packrafters all prepared to pay for a course they may take it more seriously (money talks…)? I know that there were at least 6 starters when we looked running a packraft safety course in Canberra. I feel there is a real need to get a packraft specific course together as there are more of us out there taking on more technical water all the time and the rafts are gaining a big following pretty quickly.


I do recall something about the knock back which is why I kept quiet last weekend, as I figured Jules is a fairly switched on dude and was probably slightly better prepared at the time.

I think you’re right about specific packraft training though Steve, despite my thoughts about kayaker’s getting involved. I’m really interested to get some hard feedback from the center in regards to the specific reasons on “why not”.

I am curious about possible safety reasons, as this is the only thing that IMO could stand as any real argument. Insurance policies more to the point. Packrafting may just seem like a fairly sizeable inconvenience to look into from an insurance perspective??? Maybe I’m way off the mark or ignorant to other possibilities…

PWS reserves the right to refuse the use of only equipment we consider to be unsafe or unsuitable for use at our venue.
• Boats must be of whitewater design with suitable buoyancy to float in grade 3 whitewater. Have bow and stern loops and paddled with a spray deck if designed to be used with one.

I’ll do some homework about other WW venues around the world and see if I can find one that allows packraft use…might be time to drop Roman a line. Gotta run.

I’ve been listening again to the Backpacking Light podcasts on packrafting which were released in 2009, and specifically the series on safety. They mention the Rescue 3 International whitewater courses as being particularly useful for Packrafting

The web site lists a group in Victoria - Rescue Training Group as the preferred supplier for Aust. Has anyone tried these courses ?

Attended the White water centre last weekend for private instruction. I wanted whitewater but was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to do any whitewater until I completed a ‘moving water’ course… Anyhoo the instructor was excellent and went through water reading principles, ferrying and using eddys which was useful to me as a beginner. He had also heard of packrafts and apparently they aren’t welcome at the centre as their experience with trying them on the course had the packrafts ‘wrapping’ around obstacles - hence they are deemed unsafe. In my limited experience I haven’t had my packraft warp, even trapped on a rock and getting hammered by rapids. So perhaps the inflatables they tried weren’t Alpackas ?

The day wasn’t wasted as the instructor allowed me to try the whitewater course on an NRS inflatable (long one) which was a tonne of fun.

So I’m thinking offering up an Alpacka for them to try might be the go and we can settle this packraft discrimination issue once and for all !

From what I’ve seen go on at the centre, it has nothing to do with the Alpacka rafts. I don’t mind saying it’s pure ignorance about the progression of Packrafting at this stage. I wish I had more time and the head space to put something together right now. It needs careful and informed, constructive meetings with people in the know on both sides. I have no formal training and am still running an open boat so it’s difficult from that perspective. I’d be more than happy to run the course in a kayak.

Ever tried convincing a surfer to introduce long boards at your local reef break? It’s not until Sunny Garcia and Gerry Lopez rock up that the “NeW sKOOleRs” take notice. Most of the initial training involved is purely about the river, not the craft…The fact that people are asking the question while doing the courses is a step in the right direction.

Packrafts wrap around obstacles? Really Penrith? Then WTF is this?..
(Embeding seems to be an issue, sorry)

“Packrafts wrap around obstacles? Really Penrith? Then WTF is this?..

Very enlightening Darren :slight_smile: Clearly I would have had more credibility if I rocked up with a Viking Galley dressed in a bunny suit.

(not sure what’s wrong here can’t get any of the formatting to work !)

Jeeeeezzzzzus!!! I can feel an email coming on :open_mouth: Surely they have shot themselves in the foot with such promo material??

Clearly money talks at the PWWC…I think we need to start putting together a group of paddlers that are prepared to put their money where their mouth are and be prepared to book a 2 day white water training course specifically for packrafts at the center. I am sure that if we could show that we had 10 or 15 paddlers prepared to fork out the dollars (what price??) then they would do a deal allow access? I am prepare to pay $500 bucks for a well run training course with safety, rescue, rivercraft etc etc that is packraft specific (especially if it prevents me drowning or one of my buddies). We need to approach them as a collective to show we have the numbers to make it worth their while (clearly they are not concerned about safety).

email me your thoughts and I will start putting together a letter to approach them (if you are happy with such an approach???)


Steve - I’ll put some thought into an approach and email you.

From what I saw their revenue clearly comes from the punters riding the 6 person rafts. Every other minute one of these went through the whitewater course. So I can see an issue if you have a large group trying to learn whitewater, because it is difficult to co-exist with these behemoths ! Of course I’m putting the cart in front of the horse as we need Packraft acceptance before anything else - however I wonder at the viability of holding group training there on a weekend in any vessel ? Might need to negotiate a weekday which might also give more leverage as there would be significantly less regular revenue then.

As another option I contacted this group: who were happy to provide swiftwater rescue training at a NSW river providing we could get a minimum of 11 people. The trainer I spoke to had experience paddling the Franklin in inflatables so at least would have some Packraft affinity.

I know when Jules was looking into sorting a training course we had 10 paddlers lined up so the numbers should not be an issue. I think getting a good trainer and a bit of river may be a better way forward rather than trying to sell it to Penrith?

Quite possibly ! I’ll do some more checking and come back with pricing and itinerary.

I’m definitely keen for a whitewater rescue course a la packraft. A couple of us have just bought alpaca rafts and are trying to up skill before going on an adventure in Sumatra in August! Anywhere kind of close ish to Sydney would be ideal!

Action man - will be sure to let you know !

And it’s good to see that Packrafts are welcome in other whitewater centers: