Tully River, Cairns, AUS - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-27-2010   #1
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 25
Tully River, Cairns, AUS

Buzzards, maybe a long shot, but who has the beta on the Tully River roughly 2 hours from Cairns, AUS? Any word on Raging Thunder Adventures as a commercial outfitter? Many thanks, and props to those who take the time to respond.

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Old 06-27-2010   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 188
the tully river is an absolutely beautiful class 4 don't miss it.the guy's at raging thunder are good but they do a bit of the hokie tourist shtick that I guess you sign on for when you use a commercial outfitter.
Have dinner ar the silky oaks hotel and restaurant in the rain forest it is breath taking.
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Old 06-27-2010   #3
BV, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 58
I worked as a guide on the Tully. It's a great river.
At the time (and I think today as well) there are only 2 or 3 companies with permits.
I worked with Raft and Rainforest, ask for Johnny Mac.
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Old 06-28-2010   #4
Whitsunday, Queensland, Australia
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 7
Tully River, Queensland, Australia.

G'day White,

Queensland's Tully River is within two hours drive south from Cairns, and within three hours drive north of Townsville, on the Bruce Highway. Once you arrive at the little sugar-growing town of Tully, look for signs to the Tully River Gorge, a 45 kilometre drive past banana plantations and cattle properties before the rainforest begins.

The river is subject to the tropical wet season which runs, roughly, from early January to late April each year. However it is dam-fed and pretty much every day of the year there is a release at about 10am at the gorge head which varies from 88 to 22, catering for the commercial rafting companies that operate year round. In the wet season the small catchment can carry tremendous water for short periods as the Tully area is the wettest part of Australia. Regardless of the rain, the release continues. Unfortunately, Stanwell (the power company) will not provide release heights for private inquiries (but the commercial rafters pay fees and have that information).

There are two main rafting companies there, Raging Thunder and R and R. Both companies appear to be well-equipped and popular, with most of the raft guides being kayak savy and friendly. They will usually tell you what the release for the next couple of days will be. As always, it is an unwritten law, big raft's rule!

There is a national park camp ground at Tully Gorge with good facilities and if you pay the $5 per night fee you won't get the $100 fee (if you get caught!)

The river has a road alongside the whole way for very simple access with a well-made bitumen surface. There are numbers painted on the road which kayakers use to designate put-ins and pull-outs.

Without doubt there is a section on the river to suit every sort of paddler. The top section is class four, followed by a class two/three run, then a class three bit and finally, a lovely class two paddle. The water takes a couple of hours, at least, after release, to make its way all the way down.

Historically there has been sightings of crocodiles, in the warm wet-season when breeding and movement is heightened, in the lower sections of the river but without incident. Pay no attention to media hype, no crocodiles have been removed or captured there, although warning signs are now in place from the camp-site down and it wouldn't be good to be the real deal.

Tully has all the trappings of a comfortable little town but most raft guides live in the party town of Mission Beach which is on the coast 40 minutes away. It's warm all year round. (Nikki Kelly was a raft guide at Tully and lived at Mission Beach, so if you are good enough, follow in her giant footsteps!)

Cairns is a paddling town (by Australian non-kayaking standards) and has the Barron River 15 minutes outside it which also has a daily (2 pm) release and is rated as class two/three. It's about an hour's journey and also hosts commercial rafts every day. When in flood, like all our rivers, it turns into a wild beast.

Townsville has water too, it trickles brown from a tap . . .

I hope that helps. I'll be at Tully next Saturday paddling a couple of the easy bits. It's truly a beautiful place. Hope to see you there some time.

Cheers, Mick.

PS If you start guiding there, and see an old fool floundering in a little Creeker 225, you are now duty-bound to rescue him . . .
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Old 06-28-2010   #5
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 508
If you are in cairns alongside going to the woolshed you need to hit up the tully. It is a fantastic run, there are two companies that boat there raging thunder and RnR, I worked at RnR but both are good. If you do go with RnR I second asking for Johnny Mac he will show you a good time.

There is not much of a local paddling scene down there, every once in a while there will be some privates paddling but it is not like here where you can show up at most put ins and join a group.

I'd recommend basing yourself out of Mission Beach for a few days then hitting the river, more specifically stay in the middle town of Wongaling, there is a pretty good bar scene there.

Have fun.
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Old 06-29-2010   #6
Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 32
Don't pass up the opportunity!! We did the Tully with Raging Thunder at very low water a few years ago. While I wished the water had been better, the river was one of the most beautiful! The company was very professional, but we had a rookie guide. Hard to go commercial and not be too critical when you're not guiding yourself, but it was all good. Met some great people and had a blast hanging out with them afterwards. Do it!!
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Old 06-30-2010   #7
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 25
To all, thanks for the info. Heading in that direction mid to end July. With all the positive responses, seems like a no brainer. We are based out of Mission Beach for 5 days and looking to fill the dance card. The Buzz has come through, again, solid, and to all, nothing but 5 star karma.
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Old 06-30-2010   #8
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 508
Nice have fun down there, be aware that July is the dry season so they do not push as much water through the dam. It is still super fun but not big water, it is amazing how small of a slot you can make a big raft fit. Also be aware that the not so friendly stinging flies are out then, you will still have a blast.

Other things to do are don't get killed by a box jellyfish, dive the reef, jump the beach if you are into sky diving, kayak to the island off the coast and snorkel sting ray reef. Drink alot, drink some more and then have a beer.
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