Thomson River

Brunton Bridge to Cowwarr Weir

Verified! Intermediate Dam Release Wilderness Trip Summer Autumn Winter Spring CLASS III


South Eastern Victoria. 180 km east of Melbourne

Contributed by Michael Lyons


Class: III

Season: Spring through to early Autumn if the dam is releasing.

Time: 6 to 7 Hours

Level: 0.5 m to 2.5 m

Gauge: Coopers Creek

Shuttle: 20 km (dirt road)

Character: A river full of stunning gorges, dense bushland and sandy banks. The rapids range from gravel races to drops, and chutes.

Suits: Kayaks and rafts

The Thomson river has much history, it was for many years THE TOURING RIVER, stories of overnight floods raising the level by 25 foot are not uncommon.

It has been traditionally an overnight trip, and a pleasant camp out it makes, but it is canoeable in a day (a long day).

There are a few features on the river of note, the first is the gorge, which in higher water is fast and a long swim would be the result of capsize, after this is the three stager and the chute. After the chute it is about 40 mins to an hour of flatwater paddling to Cowwarr Weir.

Darren Wood 05, November 2009 - Excellent camping approx 45 mins kayak from Bruntons Bridge on river right at a small shelter. All sandy beaches have been washed out by recent floods. The campsite past the gorge is still OK, although mostly made up of shale. Watch out for some large trees approx 1/2 hour from Bruntons and another located across a small chute in the first gorge.

Alison Boyes 17, May 2011 - West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority have recently run environmental flow releases on the Thomson River. The volume of the releases are published on the Authorities website.

The volumes released relate to the following Coopers Creek gauge levels

512 ML/d = 0.46

640 ML/d = 0.54

800 ML/d = 0.60

The releases appear to occur around May each year.

Hugh de Gille May 14, 2013 - Paddled this section over two days in an Australis Bushranger C2. River level was .61 at the Coopers Creek gauge and the Thomson dam was releasing at a rate of 800ml per day, owing to environmental flows. Great trip, a couple if big water sections, in the Thomson Gorge and particularly approaching the flat water section upstream of the weir and a few long flat water sections. There are a few great campsites although hard to find in places. There was only one tree posing a problem on a minor rapid with an easy portage on the left bank.

Ro Privett  November 17, 2013 - Note: Just a quick note folks. After many years of casual guiding on the Thomson, there are some points worth noting - more so in regard to guiding groups / beginners.  After a recent trip of high water, I certainly caution - The noted high water level of 1.7m (noted on many sites) is over estimated in my opinion. Our trip was 'quite busy & pushy' at just 1.0m......& so by 1.7 - its in a fair flood I reckon - especially with the way that the high water on the Thomo tends to bring the many riverside tree's & bushes into play. By 2.4 or so (also noted on many sites as flood) - it would definitely be in a majorish flood. Maybe these levels would correlate more accurately for experienced paddlers but certainly over estimated for beginners / school groups. e.g. The indicator rapid just above the tunnel was washed over at ~0.8  there wasn't a rapid there at all. We have paddled the Thomo as low as 0.2 or so & its just OK. For school groups....I know of companies that won't paddle above 0.6 of which I wouldn't go much above that myself with groups. Just a thought :-)

Andrew Farrance February 9, 2016 - Level 0.20m. Very boney. A beginner adult group. We did this in 1 long day, 9hrs. 8:30 start, 5:30 finish. We only had 45mins of rest/lunch breaks. Everyone was very tired, but thrilled they had made it.

Putting In: The easiest way to do this is to do the shuttle the night before, it is a long day and it doesn't need to include a drive. Drive to Traralgon and on the other side of town from Melbourne is a signposted turnoff for Cowwarr Weir. If you are doing the shuffle now, then follow the signs to Cowwarr Weir and leave you car. The drive to Brunton bridge is then to follow the signs for the Cowwarr Walhalla Road. Follow this for about 15 to 20 km and then turn right onto the Bruntons Bridge Rd (also signposted).

Taking Out: Reverse the above order if you are going to Bruntons Bridge first or have a shuffle person. If you are going directly to the bridge, then turn off at Moe and follow the signs for Erica, turn right at Jacobs Creek and drive till the Cowwarr Weir Road is met (T intersection) turn right and look for the Brunton Bridge turnoff.

Camping: There is excellent camping about 1 km after the end of the gorge on river left. There is also good camping a Bruntons bridge by the river.

Entry Date: 01 May 2001

Verified Date: 05 November 2009

Verified by: Darren Wood


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