Tully River

Top (Hydro - Tower 10)

Verified! Intermediate Advanced Play Boating Dam Release Summer Autumn Winter Spring CLASS IV


North Queensland. Tully

Contributed by Ben Sellers


Class: IV

Season: Any - Hydro Power Station Release

Gradient: 1:20 at first then lessening

Time: 40 minutes plus playtime

Length: 3.4km by the road

Level: All descriptions are for 88 ML release

Shuttle: Easy via Cardstone Rd

Character: Moderately technical, drops to 2m

Suits: Playboats, Riverboats and Creekers

The levels in this river are governed by the Tully Hydro Power Station releases, which can change very rapidly, especially in this upper section of the river.

Most people talk about release rate when describing river levels and they usually vary between 44MW and 88MW (full release).

During the wet season (Nov Ė Apr), environmental flows can increase this above 100MW. Good paddling can be had above 44MW, and it starts getting a bit pushy in places above 88MW.

The rafting companies pay for this daily release so be courteous as you piggyback on their ride. Usual release times are between 10am and 2pm, so get there early. Look for the permanent water mark on most rocks to get an idea of the current level.

1) Alarm clock: (IV) Wakes you up. Main drop is pretty obvious after a few small rapids from the put-in. Start eddy river right, (possible eddy immediately left) pass two rocks in centre on river left, avoiding wall on far left then head as far right as you can to avoid a spanking in the bottom stopper. Good photo / videography opportunities on river right.

2) 2 or 20: (III) So named due to minutes taken depending on route. Pick your own way through the rocks, one or two small chutes, might be good to inspect if unsure. Easier start centre, migrate right towards end. Donít go left at low water.

3) Double Waterfall: (IV) Twin waterfalls, easier on left, boof the first to avoid the small recirculation.

4) The Theatre: (IV) Movie screen cliff on right at end OR Theatre of War if you get it wrong. This is actually three rapids in quick succession. Eddy hop down river left, take last drop on left of centre rock, boof. Nasty landing on rocks from right side. Big eddy at bottom to collect carnage. At low levels, shoot 2m right of centre rock at end.

5) Staircase (IV) Three big steps. First head down river left, a few big eddies, play opportunities for shorter boats. Second take any way you wish, just not upside down as it can be a bit shallow. Third hug the centre rock right or left (easier), donít get washed under the huge boulder on river left at the end at high levels. Fairly big water in this one. At low levels, hidden rock behind centre rock on left.

6) Foreplay (II) Rockslide from centre to river right, shallow coming out (donít go under the waiting safety raft).

Tower 12 takeout is on river right here, 150m above Wet-n-Moisty. Look for wide steep track up bank with handrope.

7) Wet-n-Moisty: (IV) A good one to inspect as youíll get spanked if your lineís off. OK eddy at top for three-four boats, start at centre. Keep just left, avoiding stopper on left half way through, donít get sucked right or youíll get cheese grated on the wall below or held in the bottom stopper at high levels. Non-stop action.

The Lunch Spot where the rafts stop is here on river right, access to road available. Picturesque waterfall on left.

8) Corkscrew (III+) Chicken chute right (top section only) Start left of centre rock, zig-zag through rocks heading right towards small eddy on right. Break in, head left hard to drop left over rock just after tall rock, Big eddy left. At high levels, itís hard to get back across to the corkscrew (left end of pour-over on right) but you can take the straight pour on left. Donít go over on far right as wall is rough and undercut.

9) Midnight Rock (II) fun to be had on the ramp at the bottom, deep landings either side, eddy on left can be difficult to get out of the way of oncoming boats.

Tower 10 takeout is just above the flat water after the next few races, look for wide steep track on right with handrope. The river eases from here down but well worth doing.

Please see Tully River Upper, Middle and Lower sections for more descriptions.

I've compiled this between a few paddling buddies but it's by no means exhaustive. Add something if you think I've got it wrong. The names are kayakers names, not the common rafting names.

Putting In: Tully Hydro Power Station, 10.4km upriver from campground turnoff. Drive all the way up to the power station carpark, park out of the way of the rafting company buses and walk down the track next to the river level warning sign.

Taking Out: Tower 10, river right just after Corkscrew and Midnight Rock rapids, 7.0km upriver from Campground. Most paddlers continue with the upper, middle and sometimes the lower and bottom sections of the river for a good day out. Other river access is Tower 12 on river right just above Wet-n-Moisty and lunch spot just after Wet-n-Moisty.

Camping: The Tully gorge National Parks Campground is 3 hours from Townsville or Cairns. Turn inland at Tullyís second (from Cairns) or first (from Townsville) set of traffic lights and follow this road all the way in. All road distances for these descriptions are zeroed from the campsite turn-off.

Entry Date: 16 October 2007

Verified Date: 16 October 2007

Verified by: Tony Barnett


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