Whyte River, Tarkine, Tasmania

The last week I spent two days descending the Whyte River from the confluence of the Heazlewood down to Corinna on the Pieman River. It was to be the first overnight rafting trip for the both of us and there was the accompanying nerves for this new form of adventure. My companion, Kyron, was using an Alpacka and I paddled in a Kokkopelli, which would give a great opportunity to compare the two rafts.
I finished work lateish on the saturday night and played catch up with Kyron who was plodding along ahead in his van. I caught up at Derwent Bridge and our planned campsite at the Collingwood river was occupied with rafters, so we decided that the next spot to rest for the night would be at the gravel pit at the start of the Pigeon House Hill route into the Eldons area of the Cradle Mountain National Park. As we hadn’t caught up for a while and we had an extra hour to play with, due to the clocks changing that night, we decided a couple of beers were in order…
We were up and on our way again at 7.30am and had our sights set on a gourmet breakfast in Zeehan, we were to be disappointed. Onwards we went to organise the car shuffle, when we reached the Fatman Barge crossing at Corrina we found ourselves stuck behind a 4wd club trip, and waited for about an hour to cross the river. We managed to spend most of this time packing, unpacking and repacking. Finally we reached our parking spot after crossing the Pieman, and driving the length of the Whyte River from Corinna to near the Savage River mine site. It was 1pm, much later than planned. It’s never the beers fault so I blamed Kyrons driving.
Inflating the boats and getting underway at 2pm, we only had approximately four hours of daylight left. We started off a little nervously as we were not used to the weights of overnight gear on our rafts. There had been a cold front pass over the state the day before, and the water was at a good level for the time of year due to rain. Once we were comfortable with our set ups we made rapid progress down the river. With the steeps sides to the river valley, almost gorge like, we couldn’t find many places to stop and when we did it was mostly to bail out our rafts which had filled up during the descent of the various rapids. It’s difficult to remember much of this section as it was constant easy to moderate rapids with not much time between to relax. Luckily on one of the slower sections we had a sighting of a Tasmanian Devil skipping along the river bank. Kyron was keen to get rich by finding some gold, as the largest nugget found in the state was along this section of the river. Not much chance or luck with this on such an exciting day. Scouting around for campsites beside the river was unproductive due to the steepness of the terrain and the height of the river covering most of the sand banks beside the river. Luckily I had visited the Meredith Range before and knew of a prospectors camp beside the river where a 4wd track crosses the Whyte. We arrived just on dusk, having travelled 16km in four hours. We set up camp and had the luxury of a fire place to warm ourselves, cook food and dry some gear. We drank our ballast (more beer) with the idea that the river would drop overnight.
The next morning we had a lazy start, knowing that we had covered more than half the distance of our journey rapidly the day before. I had a look at the old river gauging station, and found some prospectors workings marked out. The river had dropped approximately 30-40cm overnight. We set off around 10.30 with a planned stop only 500m down the river at the junction of the Rocky River. This was a delightful spot for a poke around. Most creeks coming off the Meredith Range had been delightful, and it was great to finally stop at one. Kyron spent his time trying to get rich, I spent mine building cairns and photographing the scenery. The rest of the journey eased as we travelled further down the river. We had to scope out a narrow section of gorge which looked like it may have dangerous logs and water in it, luckily it didn’t as the portage was not very pleasant looking as the rocks we very slippy. There were several logjams which needed portaged, with one particularly impressive one. If the water had been any lower we would have had to portage more. The final three hours consisted of a flat paddle to Corinna, and we arrived with about an hours light left in the day.
Returning to the vehicles we decided to camp the evening at Luina. This is an abandoned mining town near the headwaters of the Whyte river, unfortunately the river has a historic acid mine drainage problem. Although there has been some work to remediate the problem there is more to do, with a future mining project working over the tailings being touted as a solution. I spent the following morning wandering the houseless, but guttered and tarmaced streets trying to comprehend how and why as a species we have become so thoughtless. I hope as we moved forward we can be a little more respectful to our environments ecosystems.
As far as the rafts go, the Alpacka came out slightly in front of the Kokkopelli. Both are extremely we made rafts, but the Alpacka appeared to be a little more manoeuvrable and cut through the flat water sections a little easy. The Kokkopelli seemed to plough through the rapids a bit better than the Alpacka which was pushed around a little more. These thoughts on the rafts could also due to the fact that my Kokkopelli and I are approximately 20kg heavy than Kyron and his Alpacka.
*Board attachment quota has been reached so please find some photos here (hopefully)… https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPREcytrtc26_lIClLbxhxa_ZarTdaGk9Z9b_oPuIWeeLfIDZCdyWvx5x_2tLgZiA?key=WW8zR3RfVVp0eE5EU1UxU2JVMkZKRTF5Tnp2cEFR

Beautiful- thanks for sharing :slight_smile: