Esperance River

Grade: 2–3+
Distance: 12 km
Time: 4–5 hours
Get in: First Bridge on Esperance Forest road
Get out: Channel Highway Bridge a few kilometers south of Dover
Water level: Water Level: Because of its small catchment the Esperance needs more rainfall than the other southern rivers the Picton, Weld and Huon. The Huon water level at Tahune gives a rough estimate of the Esperance’s level. At 1.5 m at Tahune the Esperance is very rocky and a long day. Ideal river levels would be between 1.8 and 2.5m at Tahune, at high levels the Esperance becomes pushy and quite demanding.

From the get in there is a small hole followed by the drop under the bridge before the river flattens out, about 2km down river a large log jam may cause troubles at lower water levels, but apart from this the river is cruisy with some nice forest.

The second half of the trip takes the river through a steep valley with a higher gradient. The first major rapid is an abrupt drop G3 indicated by a sharp right hand bend (take this left). About 500m downstream is Isa’s Staircase, the largest rapid on the Esperance which is high G3+ at decent water levels. This feature is a long cascade of rapids with a large drop into a narrow but powerful hole on river right. At low water levels this is the route to take but at high water levels the hole is quite dangerous and the drops down the left are more suitable. Below Isa’s Staircase there is a fair bit of demanding G2+/3 for the next few kilometers before the flat tidal paddle to the get out.

Contributed by Adrian S

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