Australia For Visitors > Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, TAS

Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

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The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is a national park located 117 km west of Hobart, the capital of Tasmania.

This national park, 440,000 hectares (1,087,262 acres) in size, was added to the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1982. It is now part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area.

The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is a pristine area of rainforests, mountains, valleys and gorges, and, most of all, for its wild, untamed, unspoilt rivers that wind their way through the wilderness.

A Little History

This area was almost destroyed in the 1970s and 1980s when the Tasmania's Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC) and the Tasmanian Government wanted to dam the Lower Franklin River in order to produce hydro-electricity. This 180 megawatt dam, the Gordon-Lower Franklin Dam, would have inundated (flooded) much of the Gordon River and of the Franklin River Valley.

Franklin Dam, Tasmania (image)

A "No Dams" sticker used in the 1970s-80s campaign to stop the damming of the Franklin River.

Massive protests took place in 1982-83 in what was called the Franklin River Blockade and thousands of protesters were arrested by police. The Federal Government (national government) offered the Tasmanian Government substantial monies to stop building the dam but this offer was rejected.

The dam construction was finally stopped following a decision of the High Court of Australia.

Some stone tools in a cave were discovered in 1981. This important discovery -- made in the middle of the Franklin Dam Blockade -- showed that during the last Ice Age Tasmania was the southermost point on the earth occupied by humans. This information was a strong additional argument for preserving this area.

In colonial days (1820s-1830s), convicts labored on the banks of the Franklin, felling the massive huon pine trees and letting them float down river until they reached the penal settlement at Sarah Island where they were used in shipbuilding. (Huon pines are now protected. Take a short walk from Heritage Landing and you will be able to view some of the remaining specimins of these magnificent trees, one of which is believed to be around 3,000 years old. That means it was standing in the times of Christ!)

What to See and Do

Most visitors take a cruise on the Franklin River.

Some intrepid souls go rafting on the Franklin and able to see the wonderful rock formations and overhanging cliffs and appreciated the power and beauty of this wild river at close hand. The wild Franklin River is Australia's top whitewater destination. Running the Franklin River can be truly scary in sections -- especially the Chum, Cauldron and Thunderush rapids. The full trip takes 10-14 days. It should be only undertaken by people who have done whitewater rafting before and must be done under the watchful eye of expert guides.

There are a number of short walks to take in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, including those along the Franklin River Nature Trail (25 minutes round trip), Donaghys Lookout walk (40 minutes round trip), and the Nelson Falls Nature Trail (20 minutes round trip).

A longer walk (3-5 days) may be taken to Frenchman's Cap, a great massif of quartzite.

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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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