Bridgetown: Blackwood River (downstream)

  • Popular for playboating as well as touring and white water racing.
  • White water skills and experience necessary.
  • Rapids are considered Grade 2-3 , up to medium and, possibly, high water levels. These notes do not apply to very high water or flood level.
  • The terms low /medium/high water are used loosely due to lack of information.
  • There are several ti-tree thickets and fallen logs as well as rapids.
  • River is paddleable from about 11.2m on WRC website and may be from10.9m in plastic boats. Check water level at WRC website  Above 12m may be considered ‘high’, but good level where most of the rocks are covered.
  • ‘left’ and ‘right’ in the following notes refer to ‘river left’ and ‘river right’, ie., facing downstream.
  • River conditions will vary from year to year – these notes were written after winter, 2003. Always check for new hazards.
  • Put-in is at park upstream of bridge over the river. Toilets available.
  • Take-out is at Rocky Bluff, where road is very close to river – just downstream of Geegelup Brook. Roadside parking.

*Best Spectator Viewing: Go along Eadle Terrace on north side of river for about 3km to the Photographer’s Rapid – (5) on map.
*Click on links below for pics.

7-8km paddle from bridge to Rocky Bluff (numbers refer to map above)

(1)  Corner: left-turn with current and ti-trees.

(2)  Narrow chute: after the drop river bends left – fast current sweeps to bank on outside of bend.

(3)  The Haystack: first significant rapid; two routes through-left and down through the haystack, a short, steep, bouncy ride with rocks to avoid at low/medium water; chicken chute available at med/high water: turn right, through ti-trees, then down fairly shallow and rocky small rapid with more ti-trees at bottom. Click here for pics and more detail.

(4)  The Big “V”: a big drop and long fast ride – there’s a pronounced “V” at top which makes it easy to enter. Follow the apex of the”V” down – a bumpy ride, to scattered ti-trees and logs at bottom. You need to line up a route through these – usually veer right. See pics.

(5)  Photographer’s Rapid: 

A short but steepish drop, rocky at low water. There are 2 or 3 different lines that can be taken down the drop. It ends up in fast current with turbulence on the flat due to rocks under. Take care – the current tends to race towards a huge, old fallen tree with roots facing upstream.

This can be a major hazard, particularly with a swim in the rapid. It’s on the left, but is easily avoided as the river is wide here. Here’s some pics with notes on the most common line taken.

(6)  The Trees: trees, ti-trees and fallen logs clog this bend in the river with moderate current.

Turn left for the main route through or go straight ahead for a medium-high water route through ti-tree thicket. See close-up of entry to main passage.

(7)  Rock in the Middle at the Bottom: The drop is rocky in low water, with a big one ‘in the middle at the bottom’ at low/medium water. There are 2 or 3 preferred routes, entry either left or right of small ti-tree thicket at the top. At bottom of rapid river swings to left – there’s a strong eddy on left, smaller one on right. There’s some pics here at low water level, 11.4m.

During the 2004 Geegelup Cup water level was 12.584m. There’s just standing waves instead of rocks to dodge.

(8)  Current through trees: twisting route is fairly obvious.

(9)  The Chalets: small rapid.

Enter through gap in ti-trees on right then fast current and choose one of two routes. 

1. Straight ahead to the left of the rapid, across slower current which leads to short drops through gaps in the rocks (too rocky in low water).

    2. Swing right with the main flow which then does an about-turn left, back downstream. Look for the gap between the last ti-tree and the central rocks. It’s easy to get washed onto right bank when going with the main flow, so cut the corner once you are just past the central rocks on your left. You’ll be entering an eddy, but it’s preferable to being stuck on rocks.

      (10) Fast current through ti-trees: turn left to enter narrow passage with fast current which widens out further down, then swings sharp right. See here.

      (11) Very fast current with hole: big hole is located from river centre across to left bank and there are ti-trees on the right – so keep just right of centre.

      (12) Take-out: current is quite fast, so watch for the take-out (which is not obvious) soon after Geegelup Brook enters on the left. This is the finish line of the annual Geegelup Cup, W.A. Wild Water Championships. 

      Home » Where to Paddle » Bridgetown: Blackwood River (downstream)

      Proudly supported by