Potential Interest in Packraft Training Courses in Tassie?

On a similar but slightly different note to the Southern Hemisphere Packraft Meet Up in NZ I am also interested to know whether others are keen on specific packrafting whitewater training and rescue courses in Oz? I know a couple of courses have run in NSW and that they were highly successful. I and other whitewater instructors are looking at potentially offering some training in Tassie in the future ad we would be keen to know how much interest there is and at what levels of training people are looking at.

Cheers, Mark

The idea of a training course, especially encompassing white water survival / rescue as many of us might come from a bushwalking rather than canoeing background, seems a good idea. The problem may be setting a location and course length that makes it accessible, As I have found out from my offer to host any interested packrafters here in PNG there does not seem to be much interest in travel as I’m guessing for most if us both time off work & money in the bank are real limiting factors.

Yep same here, would love to do some packraft specific training but timing, time and cost may make it difficult. But hey the stars may align…

Think this would be a great idea, as you say has been done in NSW. Suspect the issues raised by others are key though. I’m guessing that most pack rafters are from bush walking or other outdoor backgrounds so could really do with some decent training but maybe that very background and the ‘do it yourself’ mentality may work against any formalised courses (that isn’t intended as a criticism of either group. I’m from a climbing background which maybe in 20/20 hindsight is too anarchic whereas I gather many kayakers come though clubs/groups and tend to travel in packs which is different from your bushwalker/climber … this I think may be a product of the very different inherent dangers and their remedies). Anyway for me I’m OK with trying to figure it out as I go but at the same time would love to paddle with as many other like minded people as possible at whatever level … doesn’t really answer the question … but I appreciate that experienced guys like Mark and willing to give a bit back to this fledgling community

I think there can never be too much training. Build it and they will come, the first two courses in NSW where sell outs, we had more people than places so…then need is there and I think the demand is there. I would not measure intrest based on feedback through this forum as only a tiny percentage of people are contributors.



Put it together, do a course inclusion list, you’ll get people. Give plenty of notice!

If in Tassie and wanting to attract mainlanders maybe keep it to three days or offer a three and five day set of options?

Unis, clubs etc seem to have a bunch of 'rafts these days, they might even be keen on a part-fee payment through clubs for their members (I think UNSW outdoor club or whatever they are has like 20 rafts or something? Maybe its USyd).

Advertise here, at uni clubs, and the usual paddle sports sites (which you will know better than most here!) and the bushwalking/outdoor sites. Include the backcountry forum at www.ski.com.au, it has massive reach.

Great idea.

Hi Mark,

Good to see you are taking the initiative! Would you potentially travel to the mainland? I reckon the last ones have been so successful because they have been in the Snowies - a 6 or hour drive for 10 million people (Sydney, Melbourne and surrounds). That is how we managed to get Jim out from Alaska. I would come to the snowies again (especially in spring when options are endless), but honestly wouldn’t come to Tas for a short stint (but would love to come for a month some summer!)

Also Jules, I know Usyd doesn’t have any rafts (lots of hard shells), but I know UNSW has at least 1 big boat, and maybe some packrafts? I could let the uni clubs know if that would help?

All the best,


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. :slight_smile: 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 :slight_smile:

I’m new on this forum although I’ve been on the BPL and Bushwalk Australia forums for a few years. I’d be interested in a packrafting training course in Tassie (or elsewhere on the east coast), although I would be more at the beginner stage coming from sea kayaking not river kayaking.

Hi Simone,

Thanks for posting! We are in the process of finalising course dates and venue(s) with Canoe Tasmania and hopefully will be able to provide all the necessary information perhaps even next week. It looks like the initial course will be tailored towards beginner whitewater paddlers and would be well suited to those crossing over from sea kayaking or flatwater backgrounds. As soon as the course information is finalised we will post it on this site as well as on bushwalk.com

All the best, Mark

That’s great news! Will it be in winter or once the weather gets warmer? We don’t have dry suits yet. (I’m actually going to be in Hobart in a few weeks time for work.)

Simone, fortunately it won’t be winter although Tassie water can be cold anytime of the year. It is very likely to be mid-October in the north-west. Although drysuits are awesome wetsuits will be absolutely fine and will certainly be needed. We will be doing some swimming and several rescues. Hope you can make it. Enjoy Hobart in a few weeks time.

Hi Mark
I am definitely interested in this tassie packraft course. I have NSW school holidays off which start a week earlier than Tassies holidays. If the course runs the first week of your holidsys (my second week) I will book in.
I also have a lonnie friend who I think will be keen. If it runs mid October would do my best to make it, but unlikely.

Hi Andy,

Thanks very much for letting us know. Will certainly see what we can do and will look closely at my and the other instructors’ availability.

Will get back to you.


Thanks Mark. I look forward to receiving the details. Andy

Just a quick update. The course is organised however we are simply waiting on confirmation of availability of water from Hydro Tas. Once that is done we will post all the final details. Cheers, Mark
P.S. Apologies (!) to those waiting on the How To DIY self-bailer video that I have been promising for ages. Have been too flat out with both work and pesrsonal adventures to finish it. Will eventually find some time however it won’t be for some time…

Mark, thanks for the update. Exciting! Looking forward to hearing more.

Sounds good, I’m keen.

Have you told the Tas Uni rafting club about it? I would have thought some of their members might be interested.

That’s great Richard. Alex and I are just tweaking the final details for the course in conjunction with Canoe Tasmania. Once all is finalised we will let UTAS Rafting Club know plus post on a number of forums and Facebook sites.


Just a quick note here so that hopefully those who have previously posted and shown interest in this topic will get a notification email and then realise that a new topic has been started.