That is what Michele Eckersley, the Public Relations Manager at World Expeditions, got to do a few years ago when she made her way down the Franklin in Tasmania.
Decades ago, when she was studying in Queensland, she marched against the river’s damming, a prospective development for hydroelectricity generation that would have flooded and destroyed the river and surrounding wilderness. She was part of the passionate nation-wide resistance fighting this travesty.
As she recounts, “It was sort of the birth of the whole environmental activism movement... The environmentalists just said, you can’t do that in this wilderness. That’s just not a thing.”
To be paddling down it, years later, with Tasmanian Expeditions, Michele says was “incredibly moving” and a good example of common sense prevailing, given that “wilderness is a scarcer and scarcer resource globally.” Being on it, part of the flow, Michele’s fascination for the Franklin River grew even stronger. Being subject to its tempers and its whims, its beauty and its indifference, made her realise just how special this place was.
“The whole trip is totally dictated by the river,” she says. “It’s about the river, and not about you. You’re at the mercy, if you like, of the river. If the water level is low, there are times that you have to take the raft and get out and use ropes and help carry it, and other times when the water level is high you’re just zooting down and going over all the rocks. It’s a complete immersion in wilderness.”
Details that stuck with her include: being able to dip a cup into the water and drink, at any time; camping under a big rock overhang on the side of the river; and warming up with hot meals prepared by the guides, be that hot soup or vegetable curry, as she dried off on the bank post-paddle.
You can experience the Franklin River with Tasmanian Expeditions, who offer multiple expeditions along the iconic river.