The Franklin River lies in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park at the mid northern area of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Its source is situated at the western edge of the Central Highlands and it continues west towards the West Coast of Tasmania. It was named after an earlier Governor of that state, Sir John Franklin, who later died searching for the Northwest Passage.
Although the Lyell Highway passes through it, the catchment area of the river has never had any significant European settlement. There are some archaeological sites that have identified pre-European activity.
The upper reaches of the Franklin River were traversed by explorers in the nineteenth century, in their attempts to access Frenchmans Cap.
In the early twentieth century, access to the river was mostly pine logging in the lower reaches. In the middle of the century, adventurous canoers sought to conquer the river's formidable challenges. The book Shooting The Franklin : Early canoeing on Tasmania's wild rivers identifies three trips in the 1950s.
Proposed Franklin Dam conservation battle
In the 1980s, the Franklin River become synonymous with Australia's largest conservation battle of the time, the movement to save the Franklin from the Hydro Tasmania proposed hydro-electric power scheme.
Contemporary activity and accounts
The focus on the dam and the issues of wilderness experience led to the development of people utilising the river at levels never previously experienced. The result of a drowning on the river led to stricter guidelines for users of the river. Richard Flanagan's Death of a River Guide is a fictional account of a drowning, by a writer with an academic and historical understanding of the area.
Named places on the Franklin
During his initial journeys, Bob Brown submitted names for some features. Before and since, rafters and canoers have added names for many of the bends and rapids on the river:
|Confluence of Andrew River|
|Rock Island Bend|
|Confluence of Jane River|
|Big Fall or Devils Hole|
|Confluence into Gordon River|
- Binks, C. J (1980), Explorers of Western Tasmania, Mary Fisher Bookshop, ISBN 978-0-908291-16-8
- Buckman, Greg (2008), Tasmania's Wilderness Battles A History, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 978-1-74176-487-1
- Dean, John (Johnson) (2002), Shooting the Franklin : early canoeing on Tasmania's wild rivers, J. and S. Dean, ISBN 978-0-9581744-0-4
- Gee, H and Fenton, J. (Eds) (1978) The South West Book - A Tasmanian Wilderness Melbourne, Australian Conservation Foundation. ISBN 0-85802-054-8
- Griffiths, Peter, and Baxter, Bruce (1997) The ever varying flood : a guide to the Franklin River Richmond, Vic.Prowling Tiger Press ISBN 0-9586647-1-4
- Lines, William J. (2006) Patriots : defending Australia's natural heritage St. Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2006. ISBN 0-7022-3554-7
- http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/wha/wherein/detail.html location within the World Heritage Area