Date: Wednesday, 9 March 2022
Water level: 0.17.
The Little Swanport
A large unpaddled river on the Eastern Coast of Tasmania.
With a reasonable, yet flat, catchment it rarely flows at exciting kayaking/rafting flows. Unfortunately, it is passed up for similar, yet more exciting rivers such as the Cygnet or Swan when heavy enough rains fall within its catchment.
Its main paddle-able section stretches 16 kilometers and drops an impressive 140m over this period. The river drops over 100m for the first 6km, 30m for the next 6km, and 10m over the final 4km.
It has a fairly accurate gauge found at https://portal.wrt.tas.gov.au/Data/DataSet/Chart/Location/2212-1/DataSet/Flow/MLD/Interval/Latest
The biggest downside to this river is its extended shuttle, a 1.5hr shuttle one way, from the Tasman Highway Exit to Daniel Bridge Entry. It is important not to become tempted by the Swanston Road 4WD track which appears to lead directly to the entry from the take-out. Unfortunately, this road cuts directly through the Buckland Military Training Area and is impassable.
Today Michael and I set out to paddle this river following the recent rains within the area (10mm over the previous 10 days) knowing that this was more of a scouting trip than anything else.
With lightly loaded packrafts we started from the get-out attempting to climb up to Swanston via the 4WD track. Knowning that we would have to return to this track with the shuttle bike was a concern but we were set on making this decent. Once reaching the ridge at Black Jack's Hill we continued along until we stumbled upon the Buckland MTA. From this point, we decided to leave the car and continue on foot down to Deephole.
Surprisingly the river had much more water than expected. Prior to the trip, we had reviewed images from both ESRI and Google Earth which had shown large sections of river-wide rocky shelves; what we came across however was generally good flow in waist-deep water.
The first section was mostly unremarkable with frequent river narrowings due to the bank formation with large rocks (which at high levels would create lovely waves) scatted throughout the channels. For the majority of this section, there was only ever one channel to follow, however, at high levels, there would begin to be multiple options to traverse.
On approaching the mapped Weir both Michael and I were excited to see what it would bring, noting two large overhead cables we knew we had gotten close. "Luckily" there is no currently Weir on this river and all that remains are the two concrete footings on either side of the river.
From the Weir down to the exit were mostly similar sections as above with longer pools of flat water between each drop and generally easier paddling from a white water perspective.
I would suspect that at high water this river would be Grade 3 for the upper section, Grade 2-3 for the middle, and an easy Grade 1-2 for the final few kilometers.