Thomson River

Thomson Dam to Walhalla Road Bridge

Verified! Intermediate Dam Release CLASS II CLASS III


Gippsland Victoria. 15 km from Rawson

Contributed by Hugh de Gille


Class: II+ (p)

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

Gradient: 5m per km

Time: 8-9 hours

Length: 18km

Level: Minimum 200ML per day from Thomson Dam, we did it at 800ML - .61@ Coopers Creek

Gauge: The Narrows

Shuttle: 23.5km on sealed roads, 34 mins

Character: Narrow, fast flowing grade 2 water with one major rapid, heavily snagged, numerous log jams and strainers

Suits: Kayaks & canoes. We completed it in an Australis Bushranger C2

This is a beautiful trip however it is severely snagged with log jams and strainers creating serious problems, in sections they can be virtually impossible to avoid with few or no eddies for long sections and serious overgrowth with no or undesirable options for portage, this makes it an extremely arduous and relatively dangerous trip, it would otherwise be very pleasant paddling!

There is one major rapid on this section, Cascades, graded 2 or 2+, I would call it a grade 3, it is a cataract and is liable to swallow paddles and damage boats (it certainly did damage ours), it is also difficult to inspect from any angle but directly above.

There is only one campsite in the area above the Aberfeldy River confluence on the right bank where a 4wd track crosses the river, somewhere below this and the major rapid there is midway river access on the river right, this is a put in / pull out but it is easy to just pass by, no eddies.

The river retains virtually the same character from the put in to the confluence with the Aberfeldy River, on the river left, with the major rapid, Cascade somewhere around the midway point between the put in and the Aberfeldy River confluence. From the confluence with the Aberfeldy River the Thomson substantially widens, the rapids are predominantly of grade 2 standard and trees no longer seem to pose a major problem, it is very pleasant paddling.

A steel bridge is passed under about 2 km downstream from the Aberfeldy River confluence at Poverty Point, this is an old tramway bridge and is now part of the The Great Alpine Walking Track. There are a few campsites in this area. From here the river flattens out and there is a flat water section approaching the Walhalla road bridge.

The pull out is on the right hand side, in fast moving water between the Road Bridge and the Historic Rail Bridge.

As much as I enjoyed this trip I honestly wouldn't do it again, it is beautiful but a little too hardcore for a trip with only one major rapid that has a few issues of it's own. It really needs major clearing and there is evidence of this having taken place in the past, perhaps when the 'Thomson Canoe Trail' was established / popular and water levels were sufficient for paddling on a more regular basis.

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 :-)

Robert Billing April 10, 2016 - Six of us did this on 7/3/2016. The trees that lean over the water caused many problems and many dunkings. We had to carry the kayaks through obstacles about seven times. Some of the crew enjoyed this trip but I certainly won't do it again. We took just on seven hours to complete this section.

Putting In: Thomson Dam, drive to the Thomson Dam, take the turn off on the right to the power station and at the end of this road, before the gates to the power station, take a right hand turn down a gravel track (suitable for 2wds) and follow this to the end, there is a 'Thomson Canoe Trail' sign detailing the trip and stairs down to the gauge and your choice of two fast moving put ins.

Taking Out: Under Walhalla Road Bridge, on the right bank, immediately upstream of the Railway Bridge and immediately downstream of the Road Bridge, next to the Historic Railway Station on the south side of the river off Walhalla Road.

Map: Whitehorse Canoe Club Thomson River; Thomson Reservoir to Walhalla Road Bridge and on to Bruntons Bridge.

Google Map:

Camping: There is camping at the put in, there is one campsite on the river right between Cascades and the Aberfeldy River confluence, here a 4wd track crosses the river and there is evidence of a campfire and a rope swing, at the Aberfeldy River confluence and in a few other places between the steel bridge at Poverty Point and the Walhalla Road Bridge, there is also camping at the Walhalla Road Bridge and good free camping in nearby Walhalla and Coopers Creek.

Entry Date: May 14, 2013

Verified by: Colin Kneebone


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