Video TR: 5 Day Packrafting and Canyoning Trip in Tassie

Hi Folks,

In January seven of us packrafted, walked and canyoned down the upper Mersey River in Tasmania. We started in the Walls of Jerusalem, following the Mersey through the Never Never before abseiling the main waterfalls you can see on the Overland Track. We then continued down the canyon/river via Lees Paddock, pulling out just prior to Lake Rowallan. The trip took five days and although the river was really low we were blessed with beautiful weather.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Hope to have more videos of past and recent trips out soon.

:slight_smile: Mark, Blue Man & the MOE crew

Nice trip, great vid, love your work.


Beautifully done!

That’s great work ! Is that one of the new TT notches making an appearance ?

Great - this is the kind of trip I think of when I think packrafts.

have linked your vimeo to the Flylife forum.

Hi Grasshopper.

Good pickup. They are indeed the TT Notch along with a Scarp 2. We were lucky enough to be able to have the loan of the Notch tents through work. I think they are a great tent for trips such as these and I had the use of one for a week on the South Coast Track the week before Easter. They handle the wind much better than I thought so long as you are careful with fine trimming the pitch of them. They work perfectly with split paddles and obviously trekking poles. I would be keen to have a solid inner and use them on UL ski trips. That said, one of our staff felt that his showed feint signs of misting during rain. Overall though I would highly recommend them for specialized trips.

All the best, Mark

Mark - have to say you have a great employer if they lend new ultralite tents ! I have a Notch on order and chose to go with the partial solid inner to have more protection against wind and sand. Weighing 740g, double wall, dual vestibules and trekking pole / paddle compatible makes a great mix IMHO. I plan to use it on the Larapinta Trail later this year. I’ve had misting through other Silnylon shelters but the inner should collect most of that… Anyway - sorry for the thread drift packrafters !

Mark, fantastic trip and a beautiful video. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Just watched your AAWT video, truly inspiring. Brought back a few memories for me, as I walked the track solo a couple of months before you two did your traverse. Great to see you had the support of your family during the trip; it’s something that is easily overlooked by people who haven’t completed long journeys. Equipment, technique and physical fitness can be attained and fine tuned prior to leaving, but nothing can prepare you for the gruelling mental and emotional challenges of being in such a difficult and remote environment for that length of time. Arranging to meet loved ones during the trip makes a huge difference.

Hi mark,
great vid looks like an awsome trip.
the esction in about 5-8 minutes looks like it would be an awsome section to paddle in creek boats in high water in a shorter trip, do you think that would be possible?

Hi Daniel,

The section you are referring to is most likely the triple drop gorge which is just above the junction of Kiaora Creek and the Mersey. Although this very(!) short gorge would be fantastic in a creek boat the section below until the bottom of Lees Paddocks is EXTREMELY tree chocked rendering 95% of it unpaddleable.

However from Lees Paddocks down to Rowallan would potentially be worth it (in my mind) in high flows as some of the large shelves would become paddleable as well as Lewis Falls (which has been kayaked). Two kayakers have previously completed the exact section we did from Harnett Falls down (taking 4 days including the walk in) but it would have been extremely epic and tough going and actually not worth it. As despite the video showing small sections of great paddling the vast majority of the river is not worthwhile from a kayakers perspective - from a packrafting persepctive it was a great river for an adventure although it felt more like a canyoning trip than a paddling trip.

Let us know if you end up kayaking any of it as would love to hear others’ stories of the Mersey.

Cheers, Mark

oh okay then, thanks mark. just looks like it could have potential (like basically every river in this state) haha

That’s a real Tassie adventure!

Hey Mark

Watching this video again makes me very keen to do this trip. I know that the video is obviously just all your money shots and most of the river is acctually pretty much just a portage, never the less i am excited to consider doing this trip in summer (hopefully with a little more water) but with a creekboat. I dont mind walking in with it. I know there isn’t that much to paddle but with a creek boat i’d be able to paddle more sections, paddle them better, and enjoy them more. Even if the is absolutly nothing to paddle,just canyoning down the river looks like awsome fun and no matter how big a rapid is or hard to get to, its always a fun adventure,especially the first time through my eyes. what do you think of doing this identical trip but with creekboats?

cheers, Daniel

or the option of walking into the location at 5mins into the video and doing a shorter creeking trip, even right down to the lake?

Hi Daniel,

Apologies for the slow response. Have been busy moving house.

Originally 6 or so years ago I had the same intention - to kayak in creek boats from Harnett Falls down to the lake although I intended to come in from Narcissus via the OT. This idea then changed to heavy inflatables and finally to lightweight packrafts. It was only in the final stage of preparation for this trip that I discovered that two others had already kayaked it. Not that this changed things other than discovering that it could be done. Having now walked/dragged/carried/paddled packrafts down there I would no longer contemplate taking kayaks above Lees Paddocks given the limited opportunities for them to perform to their potential. I feel as though there are other rivers out there that have only had a single descent (or packraft only descent) that would be a lot more deserving of a full-on walk in kayak trip.

That said I never wish to discourage others from having crazy adventures! Certainly carrying a creek boat in to the bottom end of Lees Paddocks is likely to be worth it given the relatively minor effort required (comparably). This section of the river is very diiferent in character to much of the upper sections. At the right level (high) Lees Paddocks down would be fantastic in a kayak.

The section from perhaps about 1km upstream to junction of Kiaora Creek would certainly have a SHORT section of good kayaking in it but its a much bigger task to get into there and from the junction to the bottom of Lees is essentially tree-chocked.

Yes paddling a creek boat gives me great (relative) control but the biggest surprise for me with packrafting has been how much fun I am having in them - I have to admit I rarely feel the urge to pull out the creek boat these days - but perhaps I am just getting old. I always thought packrafts would simply be a practical craft but never realised just how much fun they would be even for a (previously) very keen WW kayaker.

I spoke with one of the guys who kayaked the same trip as us just before we left and he was pretty negative about the river and I think rightly so as for a kayaker, even discounting the walk in, it is generally too easy or there are too many trees… To them the main waterfalls were also obstacles to walk around whereas for us they were great fun as we got to combine packrafts and ropes. I think they thought we were crazy to bother taking ropes when you can get around each of the waterfalls with no more than a throwrope if you wish. Even if I could heli in I still probably wouldn’t bother kayaking it.

That said if you are anything like me having someone tell you it’s not worthwhile will probably only make you keener and more determined to do it. :slight_smile:

PM me if you want to contact the guys who kayaked it directly.

Good luck with it and let us know if you do it.

Cheers Mark