Franklin River

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For the Franklin River in British Columbia, Canada, see Franklin River (Vancouver Island). For the river in Victoria, Australia, see Franklin River (Victoria).
Franklin River near the Lyell Highway

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.

Early access[edit]

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.[1][2]

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.[3]

Proposed Franklin Dam conservation battle[edit]

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[edit]

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.[4]

Named places on the Franklin[edit]

In the case of earlier travellers, few locations of the river were named at all During his initial journeys down the river, 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:

Livingstone Cut 42°20′5″S 145°47′49″E / 42.33472°S 145.79694°E / -42.33472; 145.79694 (Livingstone Cut)
The Forceit 42°20′7″S 145°47′47″E / 42.33528°S 145.79639°E / -42.33528; 145.79639 (The Forceit)
Sidewinder 42°20′18″S 145°47′41″E / 42.33833°S 145.79472°E / -42.33833; 145.79472 (Sidewinder)
Thunderrush 42°20′27″S 145°47′35″E / 42.34083°S 145.79306°E / -42.34083; 145.79306 (Thunderrush)
The Sanctum 42°20′37″S 145°47′31″E / 42.34361°S 145.79194°E / -42.34361; 145.79194 (The Sanctum)
The Cauldron 42°20′48″S 145°47′27″E / 42.34667°S 145.79083°E / -42.34667; 145.79083 (The Cauldron)
Mousehole 42°21′4″S 145°47′17″E / 42.35111°S 145.78806°E / -42.35111; 145.78806 (Mousehole)
Deliverance Reach 42°21′4″S 145°47′6″E / 42.35111°S 145.78500°E / -42.35111; 145.78500 (Deliverance Reach)
The Biscuit 42°21′45″S 145°46′34″E / 42.36250°S 145.77611°E / -42.36250; 145.77611 (The Biscuit)
Rafters Basin 42°21′52″S 145°46′20″E / 42.36444°S 145.77222°E / -42.36444; 145.77222 (Rafters Basin)
Confluence of Andrew River 42°21′57″S 145°46′4″E / 42.36583°S 145.76778°E / -42.36583; 145.76778 (Confluence of Andrew River)
Propsting Gorge 42°23′25″S 145°45′32″E / 42.39028°S 145.75889°E / -42.39028; 145.75889 (Propsting Gorge)
Glen Calder 42°24′46″S 145°44′43″E / 42.41278°S 145.74528°E / -42.41278; 145.74528 (Glen Calder)
Gaylard Rapids 42°25′8″S 145°44′49″E / 42.41889°S 145.74694°E / -42.41889; 145.74694 (Gaylard Rapids)
Pig Trough 42°25′21″S 145°44′54″E / 42.42250°S 145.74833°E / -42.42250; 145.74833 (Pig Trough)
Rock Island Bend 42°25′22″S 145°44′58″E / 42.42278°S 145.74944°E / -42.42278; 145.74944 (Rock Island Bend)
Shower Cliff 42°25′18″S 145°45′7″E / 42.42167°S 145.75194°E / -42.42167; 145.75194 (Shower Cliff)
Newland Cascades 42°25′18″S 145°45′16″E / 42.42167°S 145.75444°E / -42.42167; 145.75444 (Newland Cascades)
Confluence of Jane River 42°27′32″S 145°46′18″E / 42.45889°S 145.77167°E / -42.45889; 145.77167 (Confluence of Jane River)
Flat Island 42°28′21″S 145°45′37″E / 42.47250°S 145.76028°E / -42.47250; 145.76028 (Flat Island)
Blackmans Bend 42°31′5″S 145°46′4″E / 42.51806°S 145.76778°E / -42.51806; 145.76778 (Blackmans Bend)
Double Fall 42°31′27″S 145°45′23″E / 42.52417°S 145.75639°E / -42.52417; 145.75639 (Double Fall)
Big Fall or Devils Hole 42°33′25″S 145°45′16″E / 42.55694°S 145.75444°E / -42.55694; 145.75444 (Big Fall)
Galleon Bluff 42°33′37″S 145°45′52″E / 42.56028°S 145.76444°E / -42.56028; 145.76444 (Galleon Bluff)
Verandah Cliffs 42°34′16″S 145°44′59″E / 42.57111°S 145.74972°E / -42.57111; 145.74972 (Verandah Cliffs)
Shingle Island 42°34′59″S 145°44′40″E / 42.58306°S 145.74444°E / -42.58306; 145.74444 (Shingle Island)
Pyramid Island 42°35′26″S 145°44′25″E / 42.59056°S 145.74028°E / -42.59056; 145.74028 (Pyramid Island)
Confluence into Gordon River 42°35′27″S 145°44′24″E / 42.59083°S 145.74000°E / -42.59083; 145.74000 (Confluence into Gordon River)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kerr, Garry J; McDermott, Harry (2004), The Huon pine story : the history of harvest and use of a unique timber (2nd ed.), Mainsail Books, ISBN 978-0-9577917-0-1 
  2. ^ Flanagan, Richard (1985), A terrible beauty : history of the Gordon River country, Greenhouse, ISBN 978-0-86436-001-4 
  3. ^ Dean, John (Johnson) (2002), Shooting the Franklin : early canoeing on Tasmania's wild rivers, J. and S. Dean, ISBN 978-0-9581744-0-4 
  4. ^ Flanagan, Richard (1994), Death of a river guide, McPhee Gribble, ISBN 978-0-86914-344-5 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]