::: TASMANIAN HERITAGE

 

Shooting
the Franklin: III

1964, Pieman River

Olegas Truchanas, Peter Dombrovskis, John Hawkins and Howard Dean canoed the Pieman from the Murchison bridge at Tullah to Corinna. This was 22 years before this enchanting river was to disappear forever under the impoundment created by the 122m high Reece Dam. "The haunting beauty of the Pieman was too much to resist" and he and Hawkins did a short journey on the river again with family in 1976.

“In 1971, while standing on the beach at Lake Pedder admiring the indescribeable beauty of the place, I discussed with Olegas Truchanas the possibility of saving the lake. He said, 'We’ll never save this lake, but we will save the Pieman'.

Left: Treasured trip diaries covered with maps and notes. Click here for bigger version

That same year the Tasmanian Parliament approved the Pieman River Power Development and the conservation movement, still in its infancy, was unable to stop the destruction of either this magnificent river or Lake Pedder.

The next battle was to save the Franklin River.”

1982, King River revisited

“Over 30 years after our first disastrous trip, I returned to the King River with my son Geoff. In contrast to last time we had a fun run through the gorge, mainly because we now used more suitable craft and travelled singly in two-man inflatable dinghies — the right size for one person and a pack.

Being inflatable, slamming into a rock was not necessarily a disaster — you usually bounced off without any serious damage to the raft or yourself

These ‘rubber duckies’ had been pioneered by Paul Smith and Bob Brown several years earlier on the Franklin. You could bungle through rapids sideways or backwards and still get away with it. Being inflatable, slamming into a rock was not necessarily a disaster — you usually bounced off without any serious damage to the raft or yourself.”

In fact, the only real mishap on this trip was that Dean managed to foul both ends of the paddle against high rocks and the shaft of the paddle slammed back onto his face, knocking out a front tooth. (Adding insult to injury, he notes that son Geoff callously called him clumsy!)

In a postscript, Johnson Dean concludes:

“This was the end of an era.

The following years would see a battle between forces intent on destroying this wild river and conservationists who were determined that it should be saved for future generations to enjoy.

The King, the Pieman, the Franklin, the Gordon. Of these four great rivers in Tasmania’s western wilderness only one, the Franklin, still runs undammed to the sea.” ¶


Henry Crocker, Johnson Dean, Peter Hawkins, Trevor Newland [front] from The Mercury 1958

 

PART I | PART II | PART III