Intro to Whitewater Paddling

Tassie is arguably the whitewater playground of Australia.  We have a fantastic range of rivers, all within a few minutes or a few hours of home.  Degree of difficulty ranges from Grade 1 (gently flowing, suitable for novices) to Grade 5 (the hardest paddleable by anyone).

River Trips

Information on suitable local river trips and river levels is here.

Members organise trips among themselves, using our Paddle-Flash and Facebook pages  or off-line with phone calls and SMS’s.  NEVER PADDLE ALONE.

In Tassie most rivers are naturally fed by rainfall while others are controlled by Hydro Tasmania.  Hydro usually give us notice when they will be discharging paddleable flows into our favourite rivers, but more often, trips are organised with less than 24hrs notice (“SoAndSo is on, let’s go.”).

So fitting paddling in with our other commitments is a challenge, often overcome by avoiding other commitments 🙂 .

Most paddling opportunities arise in winter, with the higher rainfalls.  As with hiking in Tassie, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”.  Water temperatures can be close to zero, especially as the snow melts in August.  Staying warm and relatively dry is important (and relatively easy with today’s gear).

In summer, local paddling opportunities shrink to the Hydro controlled rivers (the Mersey, the Forth and the South Esk at Longford and Hadspen.)  But it is still not uncommon to get in two or three Grade 2 or Grade 3 trips a month.


Age and gender offer few limitations to participating.  In summer the Tamar Canoe Club runs an introductory paddling program for kids.  Adolescents are welcome on club trips (with their parents or with their parents’ permission).  I started whitewater paddling in my late 50’s.

Girls and women are well represented in the paddling ranks at all skill levels.  The main challenge is finding a way to change into and out of paddling gear on the side of the river or beside a car, that works for you (Google ‘change poncho’ for some options).

Boats and Gear

The Club has boats and associated gear for use by members.  Try out the boats before you buy.  After a few trips you will know better what suits you.

Getting Started

No regular beginner trips are being organised this year.  Those that are organised will be posted on our Paddle-Flash and Facebook pages a few days in advance.

If you are keen to give whitewater paddling a go, there are many experienced paddlers willing to give you an introduction.  If you don’t see any posts on the above links, give me a call (David Bevan 0411 862 748) to make suitable arrangements.  Whitewater paddling requires drive.  As the saying goes “Start as you mean to go on”.

CanoeTas also organises Canoe Ed weekends twice a year.  Each weekend includes Whitewater Skills courses targeted at the skill level of those that attend.  I have attended the Whitewater Skills course five times within the last four years, and took a new skill away each time.  I am now confidently padding Grade 3 rivers.

Paddle safely

David Bevan