Raft Australia: Running Tasmania's Franklin
Australia's premiere whitewater river is a wild, remote, and highly technical Class IV-V run that should not be taken lightly. Water levels fluctuate dramatically, the weather can be awful, and there are several long, difficult portages. Because of the remote location and deep gorges, evacuation in case of a problem is all but impossible. As one outfitter's brochure puts it, "Rafting the Franklin demands a commitment to accept all that the vast Tasmanian wilderness has to offer."
The reward for this commitment is perhaps Tasmania's most spectacular scenery. The river, whose water is lacquer-black, surges through deep limestone gorges that skirt a huge granite and quartzite massif called Frenchman's Cap, which can be climbed from a couple of the river camps. (The view from its summit is mesmerizing.) Rafters can also feel good that they are paddling an environmental icon, saved from submersion behind a hydroelectric dam by a grassroots outcry that became the springboard for Australia's Green Party.
Unless you are a veteran Class V hotshot, don't even think of rafting or kayaking the Franklin on your own. It's too rugged and demands too much local knowledge.
A number of outfitters, however, offer commercial group rafting trips. (Even these are not for beginners, however; you should have some experience in Class IV or V whitewater, be physically quite fit, and have the stoicism to endure a couple of weeks living in a tent in potentially wet, cool conditions.)
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication