Class: II III
Season: Winter, Spring or localised heavy rain.
Time: 4 to 6 hours
Level: 2.2 minimum - see comments
Gauge: Macalister River at Glencairn
Shuttle: Easy 15 minute drive
Character: Very scenic grade 2 water with strainer potential.
Suits: Experienced white water paddlers of all craft.
The Barkly River meanders its way south from near Mt Skene and Mt McDonald to its confluence with the Macalister river ~ 15km upstream of Licola.
It's one of those classic wilderness paddles that you'll be glad you did by dayís end.
While it might not rate too high in the rapid stakes, it has some stunning scenery with overhanging cliffs & rock formations that resemble many a famous postcard.
Its pleasant grade II rapids just keep things rolling over to give it a nice flowing journey. ...but be warned! This river is notorious for Strainers being narrow with reasonably steep banks ... but donít let this put you off.
Expect to find strainers, therefore paddling cautiously & its very manageable.
Wrecked fiberglass canoes along the bank (& some that even have made it through to the lower Macalister!) are evidence of those who didn't manage it.
You would be extremely lucky not to encounter a strainer at some stage.
Anyways, back to the good stuff, the paddling. All the way down, the Barkly throws out reasonably continuous grade II (possibly a higher grade at higher water levels) which keeps things reasonably upvibe. About half way down on a sharp left hand bend, a grade III 'chutey' rapid appears which has been dubbed 'The Centrifuge' which is a good little blast.
As the colourful cliffs peter out and you feel the need for a good leg stretch, the bridge finally appears.
The VB's that you stashed in the cold water beforehand at the bridge go down a treat.
Bear in mind that a lot of the Barkly is reasonably remote & would require a fairly hefty walk out.
The Glencairn / Licola Road does run parallel to the river approximately 4-5km to the east, so that would be the best option if required.
There is a gauge just upstream of the Glencairn bridge (Minimum here @ 0.7m, best @ 1.2m) but this is not read on a daily basis, so the Macalister River gauge at Licola tends to be the best indicator.
The Barkly is a ripper little float that doesn't seem to get paddled too much but is well worth it.
Ensure that your party is 'strainer weary' & make it a great day..... just watch out for the infamous 'Mr Farkly' who lurks in these parts.
Note- this section can be lengthened by continuing down the Barkly to the Macalister River (grade II - see 'Macalister') and then to Licola and beyond.
The section above Mt Skene creek bridge looks well worth a splash is the water is high enough to catch it on.
Update!!Rumour has it that a lot of the strainers on the Barkly will be cleared / have been cleared.
That will make it obviously much safer. I will confirm this as soon as I'm sure. Can anyone else confirm this?
Anthony July 18, 2010. - About the gauge, it was washed away in a flood a few years ago and the new one does not read the same level as the old one.
We did this trip at a level of 2.2m and we ricocheted of rocks all the way down. This would be the new minimum level, possibly even below minimum.
About strainers, we had to portage about 5 times. At a good level there are only 2 that would require portage.
Putting In: From Licola, head Nth along the Jamieson Rd for about 9km & then turn right to Primrose gap. From here, turn left over the cattle grid & follow the road for approx 5km until you cross the Barkly at Glencairn bridge (take out). Then head along this Licola/Glencairn road for ~9km and turn far left down Middle Ridge track (this track is usually fine for 4x2 but a 4x4 may be preferable).After a few switch backs, you reach the put in bridge near Mt.Skene creek.
Taking Out: Head back out to Glencairn bridge the way you came
Map: Rooftop Jamieson to Licola, Vicmap Licola / Wellington
Camping: Good camping at the put in & take out, Licola or along Tamboritha road. Also consider 'Montana' caravan & camping park above Glenmaggie
Entry Date: April 15 2005
Verified Date: July 15 2009
Verified by: Colin Kneebone
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