The Franklin

I can’t recommend a trip down the Franklin highly enough! Stunning country, great water, perfect campsites and a wild feel make this an absolute classic.

There is a video and notes on our trip here -

Jeez…forums are slow these days!

The Franklin! Lovely work lads, well done.

For over a 120 Kilometers the Franklin River flows from Tasmania’s Central Plateau through deep limestone and quartzite gorges and dense rainforest of beach trees and Huon Pine to its confluence with the Gordon River. This wild and turbulent river is the heart of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and part of the larger 3.46 million acre Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area. In February of 2013 Moe Witschard, Brad Meiklejohn, and Forrest McCarthy enjoyed eight leisurely days packrafting this world-class whitewater run through primeval wilderness.

Like a number of others here we were lucky enough to get to paddle the Franklin River this summer. We started in the first week of January and were blessed with beautiful warm weather with the river at a low but ideal packrafting level. We paddled it in the first week of January when unbeknown to us much of the state was under threat of devastating fires due to the heat and intense northerly winds.

It has taken us a while to find the time to put something together but finally we have made a video of our trip - huge thanks to Andy for all his hard work on this. We tried to make the video much shorter but felt that this lost the story and so went back to including more of the non-paddling scenes.

It was an awesome trip with the packrafts certainly making the portages much easier than previously when having to carry kayaks. Flying directly out to Hobart from Sir Johns Falls was also a huge bonus. We only saw one other group of two rafts led by a friend of ours. This trip reminded me just how much of a world-class paddling adventure and wilderness the Franklin really is. It is truly up there with some of the great rivers of the world. Thanks to all those who were involved in saving this beautiful river 30 years ago!

Well done Mark & Co.

Its always a pleasure seeing what you guys get up to…and the AAWT…Mental! It’s hard for most to fathom the concept let alone understand what it takes to achieve in winter. Again well done on both accounts.

Cheers Darren.

Hey Mark,

Great work at 5:13 getting out of that hole, I thought you were definitely going to eat it!


Thanks Darren - Ditto as really enjoy checking out your adventures on your blog. Am always amazed at your stunning photos as well as by your writings. Cannot understand how you can get so many high quality shots seemingly so easily!

As for the AAWT, doing it in winter was certainly a life-long dream for both Andy and I. Although we love our river adventures it is messing about on snow that we have always loved the most. In the 15 years leading up to the trip we often considered whether we could complete it or not. We were quite intimidated by the thought of it as despite hundreds of days of snowcamping we rarely moved camp more than a couple of times a week on our ski tours. In the end this was the best thing about it as we were still never sure that we could actually do it until about half way through the trip. Having the chance to try was a dream come true and to finish it was surreal. Despite its challenges we loved every minute of it and are hoping to do it again oneday although next time with a much more UL philosophy. Next time too we will try to make the movie a little shorter!

Jeremy - I thought so too! I kept expecting to get sucked clean out of the packraft as I don’t have thigh straps in that raft. Seeing the footage again reminds me that I need to get busy in the shed and finally get around to moving the straps from my old boat to this one. I definitely got lucky on that one.

“Thanks to all those who were involved in saving this beautiful river 30 years ago!” - Mark.

You’re welcome Mark! Wow, thirty years? Looking back now, I feel so lucky to have been involved at such a young age. I was 17 at the start of the summer of the blockade, and although I had already rafted the Franklin twice (at 15 and 16), my parents wouldn’t let me go to the blockade until I turned 18 at the end of January. I was arrested in early March 1983 at Warners Landing, while defying the blade of a massive bulldozer, with arms linked with fellow blockaders for mutual courage. Scary, but awesome to be involved. Bail conditions were to not lurk, loiter, hide or secrete myself in Southwest Tasmania. Been doing that every summer since. :wink:

Bob Brown dug out a couple of my 1981 photographs of shooting the Churn to accompany his article in the current issue of Wild Magazine, if you get a chance to glimpse it, it’s a nice reflective piece about how it’s become so much harder to protest injustices now than 30 years ago.

And to the film-makers of all three films of this summer’s Franklin adventures posted above, thank you so much! Awesome short films all of them! Fantastic to see the river still being loved and enjoyed by people from all around the world.


John, thanks so much for your efforts in helping save this amazing river all those years ago. Thanks for sharing your story. And great to hear you are still lurking around south west tassie :slight_smile: Bob Brown happened to be on our flight back to Brisbane after we got off the river. I was grateful to be able to say a quick thank you for his efforts in saving the Franklin. Will definitely check out that Wild article.

Mark’s group and Forrest’s group, thanks for sharing your great videos. Looks like you had just as much fun as we did. We saw two other private rafting groups on the river who were interested but a little suspicious of our ‘funny little boats’