Snowy River

McKillops Bridge to Buchan River Confluence

Verified! Intermediate Wilderness Trip Five Star Classic! Summer Winter Spring Rain Run! CLASS III CLASS IV


Gippsland. 350km East of Melbourne

Contributed by Julien Atherstone


Class: III – IV

Season: Best in winter & spring although can be done at any time of year with the end of summer being lowest. Heavy easterly rain can bring it up quickly at any time of year.

Time: 3 long days, 4 achievable days

Level: 0.5m is low, 1.5m is high

Gauge: McKillops Bridge

Shuttle: 3hrs one way on rough wheel drive roads

Character: Amazing big river valley with several gorges, spectacular scenery all in a semi- wilderness environment.

Suits: Perfect for Rafts and Whitewater Canoes, Kayaks are good as long as they carry over night gear.

Being the most popular section of one of Australia’s most famous rivers, this section has earned it’s reputation as a classic.

Although very different from its ‘pre-dam’ days, it is rare not to be able to get some type of craft down the river.

During winter and spring for rafts and into the summer for canoes and kayaks this river offers a superb trip through some fairly remote country.

At McKillops bridge you are well away from most of the ordinary travellers and as you float down past amazing features like the Little River Gorge, Campbells Knob and into Tulloch Ard Gorge, brief glimpses of distant farm land belie the remoteness.

The river itself has been stripped of much of its former glory as one of Australia’s few ‘big water’ rivers with the completion in the 50’s and 60’s of the Snowy River Hyrdro Scheme far up river.

Today the water that feeds it’s flow comes from its tributaries such as the Bombala, Delegate and Pinch rivers that feed mainly from rain shadow areas. They can however, with the right weather pattern, coming in from the East, still feed some fantastic floods, so it is always good to check the levels and weather before you go.

The river we are left with is still interesting and challenging and should not be underestimated.

The rapids in this section of the Snowy are generally class II – III and range from boulder garden to nicely formed drops.

The exception is in Tulloch Ard Gorge, generally though of as the crux of the run, steep vertical cliff wall make this part of the river worthwhile of a rest day but would make portaging at high levels epic.

The gorge starts with the famous ‘A-frame’ rapid, an interesting manoeuvre around to big blocks leaning together (NB. The actual run through the A frame itself is a very dangerous proposition as it is full of flood debris and should therefore be avoided.).

After widening out a little to create a ‘inner sanctum’ the gorge continues with ‘Georges Mistake’, Class III – IV, a large double stage rapid with tricky lines. ‘Washing Machines’, Class III – III+ follows and for the Grand Finale, ‘Gentle Annie’, Class III+ - IV+.

The gorge opens up quickly after this and continues with its pleasant rapids. All rapids in the gorge are easily propagable at medium to low levels.

The Snowy is an excellent trip and for those who have the time you can easily spend longer on the river or extend it by paddling above this section, from Willis or below, to Sandy Pt .or beyond, the Ocean at Marlo.

Remember, this is a remote river so let someone know before you go or take communication.

Sat Phones are excellent, UHF is limited to high places and CDMA mobile phone is very limited to only the very tall peaks. The walk out would be epic.

Carolyn Potter January 12 2009 - Just travelled the Barry Way last week from Jindabyne to Buchan the river is a little low at the moment and the fires have done a lot of damage but the forest is recovering.

The area is very dry at the moment, so camping grounds are dry and dusty. But the Camping ground on the Bonang side of Mckillops is nice and the Derrick River flows just below the camping ground great swimming spot there too.

I followed the Snowy River right to Buchan then on to Orbost super country down that way a must for all Australians to visit.

Jean Dind (Swiss) March 18 2012. We did this section Sunday 11/3/12 at 3.5m @ McKillops and I'd highly recommend it: BIG waves, no rocks. Only two rapids, Washing Machine and Gentle Annie, needed closer inspection to avoid some meaty holes.

A Frame was washed out and George's Mistake had a clean line down the guts of it. But as usual, make your own decisions!

In short, good times and only took a day, thanks to our kind shuttle bunny.Get on it.

See Forums Post and images Snowy release vs flood

Putting In: Follow the Princess Highway 277km East to Bairnsdale, then through Bruthen, 23km and onto Buchan 51km. From Buchan take the Gelantipy Road for 55km until the turn off to McKillops Bridge is reached and follow this down to the river, 25km. (this last section is very narrow and steep although large trucks and small busses do use it, take care)

Taking Out: For the take out head back to Buchan, take the Orbost Road and after 3-4km the Basin Road will be reached coming in from the right. Follow this for 3.2km and turn right onto Old Basin Road (signposted Snowy River). After 6km turn right onto Bailey Hooley Road (also signposted) and after a further 10.5km you will reach the confluence picnic ground. It is a short walk to the Snowy and the take out.

Map: Murrindal- Yalmy 1:50000, Deddick- Deception 1:50000, Lucas Pt 1:25000

Camping: The is great camping at Parks Victoria camp areas at the put in and take. Camping on the river is plentiful on the big sandy beaches.

Entry Date: 13th March 2002

Verified by: Colin Kneebone


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