We are lucky enough to be located 10 minutes walk from the diverse Murrumbidgee river. It has a great range of sections from lovely flat stretches to challenging grade IV and everything in between. At this time of year the water will likely be cold (but not snow fed), so please make sure you have appropriate cold water packrafting gear. There are a large range of trips possible on the Murrumbidgee and some of the closest and notable sections are listed below. For the full list, check out the Waterways Guide and Michael Batchelor’s excellent write up.
Cotter Junction to Uriarra Crossing (Gr I-II)
A great beginner/ intermediate level paddle with a number of races and rapids in a scenic setting. Takes 3-4 hours with a number of large flatwater sections.
14km run starting from the venue with a 40 minute car shuffle being 17km each way.
Kambah pool to Cotter Junction (Gr II-III)
The run starts off in gorge country with challenging rocky grade II-III rapids before moving into gr II-III pools drops.
13km run ending at the venue with a 30 minute car shuffle being 17km each way.
Angle Crossing to Tharwa Carwash (Gr III-III+)
Section of races and flatwater combined with continuous quality Gr III+ rapids make this a great run for more advanced boaters.
11km run with the take out 42 minutes (36km) from the meetup venue. Car shuttles is about 30 minutes.
Snowy Mountains Region (3 hrs from Canberra)
The Snowy a real gem and a logical extended trip to do before or after the meetup. All but the highest section of river is dam controlled, with the sections above Jindabyne being at an advanced level though below the dam is much more packraft friendly (excepting a few sections). Many packrafters will be interested in the 6 day grade II/III paddle through some amazing wilderness starting in the high country and ending all the way down at the ocean (section detail starts here – use downstream descriptions to piece the trip together). The release schedule provide a great resource of planning trips below the dam and parties attempting trips on the Snowy should have experience suitable for the water they intend to run and appropriate cold water gear (drysuits etc).
Also, if you are in the region the week before the meetup, consider signing up for the Snowy River Extreme Race to try your hand in the packraft race class and meet others in the small Australian whitewater community.
Part of our largest river system, the upper sections of the Murray have some excellent paddling and (at this time of year) reliable whitewater runs for a range of skill levels. Draining on the opposite side of Kosciusko as the Snowy, the upper Tom Groggin section is a lovely Gr II float that includes a great little drop. Below this, the Murray Gates is one of Australia’s premier Gr IV runs, sure to challenge advanced packrafters.
Other runs include:
Thredbo River Gr II-IV (river name links to run description)
Swampy Plains River Gr III (river name links to run description)
Southern Highlands (1.5 hrs from Canberra)
The Shoalhaven is an incredibly diverse river with a huge catchment and is one of the more reliable floats in the region as it can and has been run at very low levels. The upper sections closest to the meetup have a nice mix of Gr II and GrIII sections and below this is the Powerlines section (link 2) which can accommodate a massive range of water levels from 0.6m -2.5m and some have pushed these upper and lower ends. This solid grade III run (grIV at high water) is full of amazing drops and boulder gardens and runs through lovely scenery. If you haven’t done this section before it is recommended to catch it at the lower end of its water range.
Moving down into the gorge is a Gr IV stretch which is a gnarly proving ground at high water (above 0.8m), however turns into an epic hike float adventure at low water levels. If you are considering running it, check out the video of Mark Oates’ trip at 0.64m and get in touch with Berin McKenzie about a trip at 0.5m.
Once out of the gorge, the Shoalhaven widens and flattens and is capable of taking far more volume of water – though watch out for strainers. In this section there are a bunch of lovely Gr II multi day trips through amazingly beautiful country. There are some fairly steep tracks to get into these sections, that very much put the pack in packrafting. As a result of this, you are likely to have 3 days on a wonderful river all to yourself.
Unfortunately it isn’t likely that rivers will be flowing around Sydney but if you are in town for a while the beaches and harbour stretches in the area are very beautiful and worth a float. Also, for those able to reliably roll and happy to jump in a kayak, the Penrith Whitewater Stadium provides reliable access to solid gr 3+ on it’s artificial course.