Thanks to those that have offered their thoughts. Much appreciated!
Many of you have raised the issues of timing, availability, accessibility and location and I agree with what has been said - it is extremely hard to get all of these to align for a large number of people! Me included! Personally I am in the situation where I am essentially locked into running courses within Tassie school holiday dates due to obvious work commitments as an Outdoor Education teacher. I do get across to the mainland reasonably regularly but would prefer to offer a course here in Tassie initially (despite being an ex-Victorian myself). As suggested the Snowies are certainly a great place for learning whitewater skills as is the Mitta Mitta area in Vic. I would certainly be looking at spring. For those that have time off over summer there is always the option of the Southern Hemisphere Meet-Up in NZ as no doubt many skills will be taught and much knowledge learned simply in the meeting of so many like minded paddlers. Likewise there are many excellent whitewater instructors out there that can teach whitewater and packrafting skills - you certainly don’t need to travel to Tassie for this. I also know that many packrafters like working it out for themselves. To me this is the joy of packrafting - working it out for yourself and exploring a variety of environments and exploring just what is possible in terms of travel via packraft and foot. The biggest danger however is that generally ‘people don’t know what they don’t know’ and that packrafts allow relative beginner whitewater paddlers easy access to some extremely dangerous river environments. With packraft numbers slowly climbing we are starting to hear of incidents and near misses.
I see the usefulness of running at least two levels of courses - introductory whitewater courses for those getting into whitewater and also a more advanced course for those who are starting to push the boundaries of perhaps what packrafts were originally designed for - those that are starting to run gr3+/4 but who perhaps have not had formal training in paddling whitewater. I was thinking of initially aiming a course for those in the latter group perhaps this Sept/Oct - those that want to move into steep creeking and improve upon their technical whitewater paddling/safety skills but also perhaps even more importantly improve their team management skills. My philosophy of running whitewater is very much based around team work and managing obstacles and real dangers safely as a group rather than as individuals.
Certainly understand that few would be willing to travel south from the mainland for a short stint of 3-5 days in NW Tassie although we do have amazing rivers down here. I imagine those interested in such a course would already have their own packraft and have probably started to consider using thigh straps. We would be looking to have 2 or 3 experienced instructors on the course working with a small number of participants (3 to 4 each). If needed I do have access to a large number of packrafts through work and higher performance models can also easily be hired down here through Wildabout Packrafting in Devonport however I imagine that the majority of those that need to hire should be looking at an introductory course.
FYI I have no interest in generating additional work or $ for myself, I just feel that there might be a need for packrafters to become a little bit more aware of how to be safe on serious whitewater and I realise that I am a big contributor to perhaps encouraging others to paddle harder and potentially more dangerous rivers through the videos that I generate. Plus I do admit that I am extremely passionate about packrafting and enjoy hanging out with likeminded others