The Franklin River is a major perennial river located in the Central Highlands and western regions of Tasmania, Australia. The river is located in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park at the mid northern area of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Its source is situated at the western edge of the Central Highlands and it flows west towards the West Coast.

Franklin River near the Lyell Highway
Franklin River is located in Tasmania
Franklin River
Location of the Franklin River mouth in Tasmania
EtymologySir John Franklin
RegionCentral Highlands, Western
Physical characteristics
SourceMount Hugel
 • locationFranklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
 • coordinates42°18′48″S 146°12′56″E / 42.31333°S 146.21556°E / -42.31333; 146.21556
 • elevation951 m (3,120 ft)
MouthGordon River
 • coordinates
42°35′27″S 145°44′24″E / 42.59083°S 145.74000°E / -42.59083; 145.74000
 • elevation
11 m (36 ft)
Length129 km (80 mi)
Basin features
River systemGordon River
 • leftSurprise River, Loddon River, Jane River
 • rightCollingwood River, Lucan River, Andrew River
ReservoirsLake Undine; Lake Dixon

The river is named in honour of Sir John Franklin, a Governor of Tasmania, who later died searching for the Northwest Passage.

Sir John Franklin, the river's namesake.

Location and features


The river rises below Mount Hugel west of Derwent Bridge on the western slopes of the Central Highlands and flows generally west and south through remote and rugged mountainous country until meeting its confluence with the Gordon River. From source to mouth the river is joined by sixteen tributaries including the Surprise, Collingwood, Lucan, Loddon, Andrew and the Jane rivers. In its upper reaches, the Franklin is impounded by two reservoirs, Lake Undine and Lake Dixon. The river is crossed by the Lyell Highway, also in its upper reaches. There are some archaeological sites that have identified pre-European activity. The upper reaches of the Franklin River were traversed by explorers in the nineteenth century, in their attempts to access Frenchmans Cap.

In the early twentieth century, access to the river was mostly pine logging in the lower reaches.[2][3]

In the middle of the century, adventurous canoers sought to conquer the river's formidable challenges. The book Shooting The Franklin : Early canoeing on Tasmania's wild rivers identifies three trips in the 1950s.[4]

Named places on the Franklin


In the case of earlier travellers, few locations of the river were named at all. During his initial journeys down the river, Bob Brown submitted names for some features. Before and since, rafters and canoers have added names for many of the bends and rapids on the river:

Location Coordinates Location Coordinates
Livingstone Cut 42°20′5″S 145°47′49″E / 42.33472°S 145.79694°E / -42.33472; 145.79694 (Livingstone Cut) Pig Trough 42°25′21″S 145°44′54″E / 42.42250°S 145.74833°E / -42.42250; 145.74833 (Pig Trough)
The Forceit 42°20′7″S 145°47′47″E / 42.33528°S 145.79639°E / -42.33528; 145.79639 (The Forceit) Rock Island Bend 42°25′22″S 145°44′58″E / 42.42278°S 145.74944°E / -42.42278; 145.74944 (Rock Island Bend)
Sidewinder 42°20′18″S 145°47′41″E / 42.33833°S 145.79472°E / -42.33833; 145.79472 (Sidewinder) Shower Cliff 42°25′18″S 145°45′7″E / 42.42167°S 145.75194°E / -42.42167; 145.75194 (Shower Cliff)
Thunderrush 42°20′27″S 145°47′35″E / 42.34083°S 145.79306°E / -42.34083; 145.79306 (Thunderrush) Newland Cascades 42°25′18″S 145°45′16″E / 42.42167°S 145.75444°E / -42.42167; 145.75444 (Newland Cascades)
The Sanctum 42°20′37″S 145°47′31″E / 42.34361°S 145.79194°E / -42.34361; 145.79194 (The Sanctum) Confluence of Jane River 42°27′32″S 145°46′18″E / 42.45889°S 145.77167°E / -42.45889; 145.77167 (Confluence of Jane River)
The Cauldron 42°20′48″S 145°47′27″E / 42.34667°S 145.79083°E / -42.34667; 145.79083 (The Cauldron) Flat Island 42°28′21″S 145°45′37″E / 42.47250°S 145.76028°E / -42.47250; 145.76028 (Flat Island)
Mousehole 42°21′4″S 145°47′17″E / 42.35111°S 145.78806°E / -42.35111; 145.78806 (Mousehole) Blackmans Bend 42°31′5″S 145°46′4″E / 42.51806°S 145.76778°E / -42.51806; 145.76778 (Blackmans Bend)
Deliverance Reach 42°21′4″S 145°47′6″E / 42.35111°S 145.78500°E / -42.35111; 145.78500 (Deliverance Reach) Double Fall 42°31′27″S 145°45′23″E / 42.52417°S 145.75639°E / -42.52417; 145.75639 (Double Fall)
The Biscuit 42°21′45″S 145°46′34″E / 42.36250°S 145.77611°E / -42.36250; 145.77611 (The Biscuit) Big Fall or Devils Hole 42°33′25″S 145°45′16″E / 42.55694°S 145.75444°E / -42.55694; 145.75444 (Big Fall)
Rafters Basin 42°21′52″S 145°46′20″E / 42.36444°S 145.77222°E / -42.36444; 145.77222 (Rafters Basin) Galleon Bluff 42°33′37″S 145°45′52″E / 42.56028°S 145.76444°E / -42.56028; 145.76444 (Galleon Bluff)
Confluence of Andrew River 42°21′57″S 145°46′4″E / 42.36583°S 145.76778°E / -42.36583; 145.76778 (Confluence of Andrew River) Verandah Cliffs 42°34′16″S 145°44′59″E / 42.57111°S 145.74972°E / -42.57111; 145.74972 (Verandah Cliffs)
Propsting Gorge 42°23′25″S 145°45′32″E / 42.39028°S 145.75889°E / -42.39028; 145.75889 (Propsting Gorge) Shingle Island 42°34′59″S 145°44′40″E / 42.58306°S 145.74444°E / -42.58306; 145.74444 (Shingle Island)
Glen Calder 42°24′46″S 145°44′43″E / 42.41278°S 145.74528°E / -42.41278; 145.74528 (Glen Calder) Pyramid Island 42°35′26″S 145°44′25″E / 42.59056°S 145.74028°E / -42.59056; 145.74028 (Pyramid Island)
Gaylard Rapids 42°25′8″S 145°44′49″E / 42.41889°S 145.74694°E / -42.41889; 145.74694 (Gaylard Rapids) Confluence into Gordon River 42°35′27″S 145°44′24″E / 42.59083°S 145.74000°E / -42.59083; 145.74000 (Confluence into Gordon River)

Franklin River conservation battle


In the 1980s, the Franklin River become synonymous with Australia's largest conservation movement of the time, the movement battled to block Hydro Tasmania's proposed hydro-electric power plan, from building on the Franklin.

The focus on the dam and the issues of wilderness experience led to the development of people utilising the river at levels never previously experienced. The result of a drowning on the river led to stricter guidelines for users of the river. Richard Flanagan's Death of a River Guide is a fictional account of a drowning, by a writer with an academic and historical understanding of the area.[5]

See also



  1. ^ "Map of Franklin River, TAS". Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia. 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  2. ^ Kerr, Garry J.; McDermott, Harry (2004). The Huon pine story: the history of harvest and use of a unique timber (2nd ed.). Mainsail Books. ISBN 978-0-9577917-0-1.
  3. ^ Flanagan, Richard (1985). A terrible beauty: history of the Gordon River country. Greenhouse. ISBN 978-0-86436-001-4.
  4. ^ Dean, John (Johnson) (2002). Shooting the Franklin: early canoeing on Tasmania's wild rivers. J. and S. Dean. ISBN 978-0-9581744-0-4.
  5. ^ Flanagan, Richard (1994). Death of a river guide. McPhee Gribble. ISBN 978-0-86914-344-5.

Further reading

  • Binks, C. J (1980), Explorers of Western Tasmania, Mary Fisher Bookshop, ISBN 978-0-908291-16-8
  • Buckman, Greg (2008), Tasmania's Wilderness Battles A History, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 978-1-74176-487-1
  • Dean, John (Johnson) (2002), Shooting the Franklin : early canoeing on Tasmania's wild rivers, J. and S. Dean, ISBN 978-0-9581744-0-4
  • Gee, H and Fenton, J. (Eds) (1978) The South West Book - A Tasmanian Wilderness Melbourne, Australian Conservation Foundation. ISBN 0-85802-054-8
  • Griffiths, Peter, and Baxter, Bruce (1997) The ever varying flood : a guide to the Franklin River Richmond, Vic.Prowling Tiger Press ISBN 0-9586647-1-4
  • Lines, William J. (2006) Patriots : defending Australia's natural heritage St. Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2006. ISBN 0-7022-3554-7