We had a crew of 3 who were keen to paddle on Sunday. Although there had been a little rain around, there wasn’t enough to bring up any of the rivers. Out of options, we decided to head to Penrith Whitewater Stadium. Just as we were walking out the door to leave, we checked the gauges once more.
Although no rivers had started rising yet, we did notice a large storm cell starting to rain in the Allyn River’s catchment. Understanding there was a good chance the Allyn River wouldn’t get enough water, we made the gamble to make the +2hr trip to the Allyn River anyway.
The road the the Ladies Well camping area crosses over the Allyn River a number of times as it slowly climbs its way higher. It seemed as if each time we crossed over the Allyn River there was less and less water. It wasn’t looking good, although our glimmer of hope was that it was still raining.
We were met with disappointment when we finally arrived at Ladies Well. There was barely enough water to float a kayak. Not really knowing what to do, we went and said G’day to a family of campers packing up to escape the wet weather. After chatting with them for a few minutes, they told us that the river has been coming up quickly in the last little while.
We decided to stick around for a bit and see what the river was doing. Sure enough it was steadily rising. The campers were very helpful. Once they’d packed up they helped us out with the shuttle and came back up to the top bridge to watch us paddle through.
We ended up putting on the river about an hour and a half after we arrived at Ladies Well. By that time there was enough water to float down the river, although it still seemed pretty low. We had been up here before, but this was the first time we’d had enough water to paddle the full section of river. Our put in was at a campsite above the wooden bridge, which is as far up as you can go by car.
At this level, the Ladies Well section of the Allyn River is made up of continuous grade II+ rapids with a few grade III+ thrown in for some extra fun. Most of the river is a single narrow channel. In high water this river would become quite continuous and pushy and could quickly escalate in grading. I would also guess some fun play features would open up, although the chance of eddy service would be slim.
The entire section runs through beautiful rainforest and offers some great scenery. It’s well worth the paddle even if the water level is low. The road follows the river the entire way, so if you ever put in with too much water, it’s easy to get off the river. Just use good judgement.
All up there are five larger rapids on this section. The first is directly under the bridge above Ladies Well and can be easily scouted before putting on. There is a ~8foot directly above the Ladies Well waterfall. The Ladies Well waterfall itself (pictured above). A small ~5foot drop a few hundred metres below Ladies Well (pictured below). The last is not too much further downstream, and is a longer rapid about 20m long.
We ended up paddling down the the first weir/ford below Ladies Well and taking out here. It isn’t far below Ladies Well before the river flattens out into grade 2 style gravel races for the rest of the way. There were 3 wire fences across the river down towards the weir. We managed to paddle around/through/under/over them safely, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A better option would be to find an easy place to walk up to the road after the last of the larger rapids, or around the first house/farm you get to.
This really was a fun river to paddle, and I really enjoyed the rainforest scenery along the way. The river is continuous with no big flat pools, so it’s fun the whole way. The river peaked at 1.5m on the Allyn River guage at Halton around the time we were getting off the river. I think around 1.5m would be a good minimum level for this river. Although you could float down with a hair less water (1.3m-1.4m), and then the Ladies Well waterfall could be run even lower if you were desperate.
For anyone wanting to paddle this river, here are a few tips unique to the Allyn River:
- Annoying: There’s a lot of stinging nettle bushes on the ground, so wear appropriate footwear and keep an eye out for it. It doesn’t hurt too much, and the stinging doesn’t last too long, but it is annoying.
- Painful: There are stinging tree’s around. These are painful. The sting doesn’t wear off quickly. As a friend found out on another trip, the sting can keep coming back for months. If you see a tree with furry looking leaves, stay away!
- Suicidal: As soon as dusk hits, groups of suicidal Potoroos will bounce in front of your car from every direction. Drive slowly, these clever extremists will send in one bounding decoy from one side. As soon as you begin to veer away, another 10 will jump in front of your vehicle from the bushes on the other side.
And finally, here is our video of the trip:
Trip Date: 24 October 2010