Thomson River

Walhalla Road Bridge to Coopers Creek

Verified! Intermediate Dam Release Summer Autumn Spring CLASS II


Gippsland Victoria. Rawson

Contributed by Hugh de Gille


Class: II (p)

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

Gradient: 2m per km

Time: 3 to 4 hours

Length: 8km

Level: minimum 0.4 - best level 0.8 - high 1.7 flood - 2.7

Gauge: Coopers Creek

Shuttle: Easy, 1.5km / 3 min sealed and a couple of km dirt road, suitable for 2wds.

Character: Medium width with gravel races and drop pool rapids of grade 2 standard.

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

A beautiful, enjoyable and straight forward paddle with the exception of the 1km (reports vary from 500m to 2km) portage to avoid a historic miners diversion tunnel.

The trip starts at The Walhalla-Rawson Road Bridge / Thomson Station.

After 2 km of paddling on rapids of grade 2 standard, gravel races and flat water sections the tunnel entrance is reached, it is on the river left, it really sneaks up as it is just after a rapid on a right hand bend.

This tunnel must be avoided! There is no warning sign 500 m up stream as has been the case in the past. This tunnel is extremely dangerous and has claimed one life! Because it diverts the entire rivers flow it has a lot of suction to it and can be difficult to avoid!

There is a beach opposite the tunnel entrance. The portage begins where the water ends, there is a well established, well defined trail following the almost entirely dried up river bed. The portage ends where the water begins and probably the most difficult part of the trip is re entering the flow downstream of the tunnel closely followed by one of the two biggest rapids on the section, both of these lie just below the tunnel.

From here Coopers Creek is virtually just around the river bend. The take out is where a 4wd track crosses the river.

A good trip, a couple of rapids worth paddling bellow the tunnel but just worth the portage.

The tunnel is definitely avoidable by anyone competent but be very mindful of it and keep to the river right unless there is a reason not to, it sneaks up and is directly below a minor rapid. It is the most dangerous tunnel I've seen.

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 :-)

Hugh de Gille May 08, 2014 - Thomson River environmental releases May 2014 from Thomson Dam.

Date           Flow at Coopers Creek (ML/d)

12/05/2014 - 230
13/05/2014 - 368
14/05/2014 - 589
15/05/2014 - 800
16/05/2014 - 800
17/05/2014 - 800
18/05/2014 - 800
19/05/2014 - 640
20/05/2014 - 512
21/05/2014 - 410
22/05/2014 - 328
23/05/2014 - 262
24/05/2014 - 230

Putting In: Walhalla Road Bridge, adjacent to Historic Railway Station, between Road Bridge and Historic Rail Bridge, down steep track signed

Taking Out: Coopers Creek Track, Coopers Creek, in campground on Coopers Creek Road.

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

Google Map:

Camping: Free camping available at the put in and take out, better at the take out and in Walhalla.

Entry Date: May 16, 2013

Verified Date: May 16, 2013

Verified by: Colin Kneebone


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