The Apsley River was rafted by a small group from the Club in May 2003, after a huge downpour on the East Coast – at trip that turned into an epic.
The Apsley River rarely flows, being in the heart of the dry East. However, when there is water in it it is characterised by continuous rapids and big waterfalls. The section we did (the day walk from the Douglas – Aplsey National Park campground that goes over the ridge and rock hops along the river bed) was at a moderate water level and consisted of numerous continuous G3+ rapids ending with nasty G4 or G5 drops that required extensive portaging. There was also the biggest G6 waterfall I’ve seen for a while. This, coupled with the very steep and slippery sides of the gorge (that always slope towards the gnarly rapids), the tendency of the river to rise quickly with rain and the lack of high level portage options makes the river a risky run.
On this trip we drove from Hobart at 5:30am, got to the river at 10am, ferried across the river at 10:30am, pack-hauled along the 2km walking track until 12noon and got on the river at 1pm. The water level was such that we could just drive over the submerged bridge to the National Park in a normal car. Unfortunately, the excessive portaging required and a punched raft meant that we could not complete the entire 3km section in the remaining daylight and we were forced to abandon the river at the end of the gorge, about 1km downstream. We bush bashed up the hillside, attempted to find the walking track we came in on, didn’t, and camped the night. We then walked out the next morning. The remaining section of the river is most likely much tamer.
If anyone wants to try to conquer it again - good luck! You’ll need it at the same water level that we had, with stable weather, a strong crew and as much daylight as there is in a day. It’s worth it – you don’t see many rivers like this in Tassie!