I went on the 7 Day Expedition with Water By Nature run by Brett. My two guides, ‘Jim from Scotland’ and Johnno were both very experienced raft guides as well as great cooks. I went in the first week of December which is near the start of the season. I was told that it can be quite cold and wet in Tasmania at this time of the year but in my 7 days on the river we only got a light shower on day 6 and the nights were quite mild. Although this might not always be the case, an advantage of travelling earlier in the season is that the water level is generally higher allowing for less portaging. We were not required to port the raft at all (not guaranteed though as it is really dependent on rainfall in the previous couple of weeks). However, at some rapids which are considered to be too dangerous we were required to exit the rafts and walk around the rapids while the guides used ropes to line the rafts through them.
The Franklin River is an absolutely magnificent place and this was a true wilderness adventure (we encountered no other people, roads or signs of civilisation except for the remains of a helicopter landing pad left behind from the days of the proposed damming). The camping is basic with camp sites containing no facilities but the guides do a great job at making the camping a great experience with cooking ranging from curry and rice, steak and potatoes to bush pizza, all of which tasted great. It might take the ‘not so keen’ camper a day or two to adjust but this for me was an absolutely amazing experience which I will never forget.
The walk to Frenchman’s Cap was also great. The guides generally only recommend attempting the climb on a clear day which can quite often not be the case. We were lucky enough to have a clear day and so set off at 8am for the 10 hr return trip. This is quite a physically demanding trip with a good level of hiking fitness required (We had 3 people sit it out and 5 of us + the 2 guides ascend) but well worth it to reach the highest peak in South-Western Tasmania for a truly amazing view which takes a 5 day return hiking trip to reach from the main road. Having a decent size water bottle for this journey is essential (which was probably not emphasized enough in our initial briefing). Once you leave camp, there are only a few places to fill up on water from little streams coming from the rocks.
One point about the 7 day expedition is the climb out via Mt McCall. This is a challenging climb and is made even more so by the fact you are carrying all your personal gear out. When we reached the top we were met by the 4wd which brings the 5 day triper’s in as well as some additional supplies and takes the 7 day triper’s out but there was no water for us after this challenging trip. I would recommend to anyone doing the 7 day trip that you discuss with Brett in the meeting the day before your trip about organising for there to be some cold water after this challenging climb.
Overall I would highly recommend the 7 day expedition or the 10 day expedition if you are keen to do the extra 3 nights and complete the expedition by yacht to Strahan.
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