All our river guides are celebrities to us, but Abigail Nimui deserves special mention. Abigail is a member of the Australian Women's Rafting team and this will be her fifth season guiding our Franklin River trips.
In the off-season Abigail has rafted in far North Queensland on the Tully River and overseas in Scotland, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Just before Abigail hops back into a raft we asked her more about the Franklin River Rafting experience.
Why is the Franklin River considered one of the greatest white water rafting experiences?
It’s an incredible journey through stunning Tasmanian wilderness, every day is so different and beautiful in her own unique way. Being on an extended expedition it really allows for a true connection to happen, a connection to the land, river and each other really makes space for a truly life changing experience.
The rapids are ever varying, sometimes they are flat and slow, a perfect time to take in the surroundings to the epic grade 6 portages where we must spend time negotiating how to get through the biggest rapids on the river. The other grades in between are also fun. The Franklin is a wild river that ebbs and flows with the rains, the rapids change day to day.
Every trip is sure to have excitement and gets you feeling exhilarated.
It is a strenuous activity, how fit do you need to be?
This trip is best suited to those with at least a moderate fitness level. It requires you to be pretty good on your feet at times, rock scrambling on uneven or slippery surfaces is a definitely a part of the expedition and although no paddling experience is required, it is expected that you will be able to contribute to paddling for at least a few hours at a time (with breaks and snacks!).
It’s also expected that guests help the guides with carrying gear, setting up camp and helping with portages to the best of their ability.
How many hours or part of the day are you in the raft?
Every day and trip is different. Depending on the section we are going through and the water levels, sometimes we have rest days, but you can expect anywhere between 4 – 7 hours in the raft on an average day, sometimes more, sometimes less.
On our Franklin River Rafting trips there is so much to explore including waterfalls, caves, creeks, canyons and rainforests galore.
All the guides have good knowledge on the area and history and carry resources about the river. You can expect the guides to share their knowledge and passion as you meander through the wilderness.
What is the gradient of the rapids and are you likely to go into the water?
Rapids are dependent on the rain. Grades 2 – 6, mandatory portages are a part of every trip. The majority of the rapids are in the Great Ravine, portages are what we have to do when we come across un-runnable rapids, we have to work out the best way for the group to get all our rafts, gear and people to the bottom of the rapids safely, a process all the guides are familiar with at the different levels, every portage is different and will be explained at the time.
There are days of lazy flat meandering through stunning rainforest to days of delightfully exhilarating white water, each day brings different adventures, and that’s the beauty of the Franklin River.
Sometimes people fall out, sometimes boats flip over in rapids, this doesn’t happen all that often but it’s something people need to be aware of if joining a rafting trip.
When is the water high, is the shoulder season November the best time to raft as the water is high?
You never really know what water level you’re going to get but generally November is the time for higher water.
What flora and fauna can you expect to see?
Lining the banks in sections are endemic Huon and King Billy Pines and many other rainforest species. Depending on the time of year you can see the endemic Tasmanian Waratah and Leatherwood trees flowering, also beautiful are the Eucalyptus forests and Fern Gullys.
Often the White-bellied Sea Eagles join our expedition, and we might see Wedge-tailed Eagles, Platypus and Quolls.
How do you keep your items dry?
On the trip each person is provided with a specially made waterproof bag that’s sure to keep all things dry if used correctly. A hard Pelican case brought on the trip to keep cameras, sunglasses, snacks etc. to keep them safe and dry.
What’s the one piece of equipment you always take on a rafting adventure?
I like to bring my tin whistle and a notebook for writing in. It’s nice at the end of the day to unwind to some music or self-reflective drawing or writing, but everyone is different, a pack of cards, a book to read, something small that you can enjoy down the river.
Make sure to read the list given by Tasmanian Expeditions and bring everything on the list.
What’s it like sleeping by the riverside?
It’s my personal favourite, I love going to sleep listening to the water, sometimes soft and lulling other times raging and wild. Every camp is so different, sometimes we are sleeping in caves, other times enclosed in rainforest surrounded by glow worms, other days sunning ourselves on sandy beaches.
Are there areas along the river where you feel enclosed by the rainforest?
Absolutely, it’s a common theme for our river adventure.
What type of meals can you expect on this trip?
Three meals a day of delicious goodness, all our guides are experienced expedition cooks and enjoy preparing an array of different dishes throughout the journey, we also use a lot of Tasmanian produce in our cooking.
Breakfast consist of cereals, muesli, porridge, bacon, eggs, haloumi. Lunch is usually a cold dish of wraps, pasta salad, cous cous, sushi and dinner is a 2-3 course hot dish.
Throughout the trip there’s always plenty of snacks during the day for extra fuel, energy and enjoyment!
Join Abigail and our celebrity guides on the Franklin River this season.
Tasmanian Expeditions operates three expeditions on the historic river throughout November to February each year.
Franklin River Rafting
Franklin River & Frenchman’s Cap
Franklin River World Heritage Expedition with Geoff Law