Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Packrafting trips and tales from down under.
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Lizardboy
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:28 pm

Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Lizardboy » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:26 am

Hi,
Does anyone know if they will allow you to use a packraft at penrith whitewater centre?
Cheers,

Gus

AeroNautiCal
Posts: 121
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Location: Stoke Newington, London, UK.

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by AeroNautiCal » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:20 am

Perhaps you could phone or email them.

dukepeterson

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by dukepeterson » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:45 am

cant see why not, I would just rock up and pay for recreational paddling, you can do this with other private boats, kayaks, rafts cant see why a pack raft would be any different. Might want to strap a bit of weight to the front though otherwise you might be doing a spot of swimming.

Jules Watson
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Location: Oz

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Jules Watson » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:00 pm

Gus; great minds think alike (and, of course, fools never differ). Gizzabel if you're going out for the day, I'd be interested.

Jules

Lizardboy
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Lizardboy » Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:16 pm

Cheers Guys,
I just got the feeling they may not have seen too many packrafts before and may right them off as pool toys!
Duke, from the website it looked like just whitewater kayaks and the large multi person whitewater rafts they supply. http://www.penrithwhitewater.com.au/htm ... x_real.htm . If they allow other private craft as you suggest then hopefully its a go'er! What would you reccomend for adding weight, i guess a pack is the obvious choice...?

I found this, although not from the Penrith whiewater sight and it does say draft up the top it seems to give an idea of Penrith Whitewater Centre's position. http://www.paddlensw.org.au/Whitewater% ... 20code.pdf
Exert:
PWS reserves the right to refuse the use of only equipment we consider to be unsafe or unsuitable for use at our venue.
• Boats must be of whitewater design with suitable buoyancy to float in grade 3 whitewater. Have bow and stern loops and paddled with a spray deck if designed to be used with one.


Jules, it would be good to get there in the next months or two, will be in touch.

Gus

Peter
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Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2008 1:05 am

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Peter » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:06 am

Hi
We have some pack rafts which we took down the Jane R in Tasmania in February...Thanks Duke for your email....We wanted to test them at Penrith Whitewater and they refused us with a whole lot of ignorant statements about the boats which we knew not to be true. We said we wanted to test the boats for use in a remote area...but they saw no value in the arguement that if they were as bad as they said it would be better for us to find out at PWW than somewhere in Enkidu Gorge a week from help! I thought it was a very poor response and may write to them.

So go to PWW aware of a possible negative reaction.
Peter K

Darren
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Location: Sydney

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Darren » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:24 pm

Digging this one up from a while ago.....I took a drive out to Penrith again yesterday to alleviate the boredom that injury brings. I was Ill prepared to go through the "Why not packrafts?", with the staff so used the time to watch, learn, and form some of my own ideas and questions.

Firstly, I know its stating the obvious but the place screams packraft. It would be the ideal place to gain essential safety and technical skills, and build plenty of general paddling experience. I'll just start with a few random thoughts.....(packraft related....)

1 - I think it is imperative that kayaker's get involved if the process of gaining access is proving difficult. There are a few that seem interested already.
2 - It seems the biggest problem so far is a simple lack of understanding about packrafting at the facility.
3 - Maybe doing the 2 day intro course in a kayak first would be compulsory/beneficial?....I am very keen to do it anyway...and 2nd hand playboats are cheap!
4 - Proposal of specific times or days that packrater's could use the facility so it doesn't interfere with other schedules?
5 - Maybe new shape boats with spraydecks only for their marginally better rolling capacity??? I have no experience with this yet.
6 - If paddlers have the technical ability, fitness, and the packraft's structural integrity has been proven worldwide, what other factors (safety or otherwise) are halting the process?
I know these questions have been asked by some and an attempt has been made to answer them.
7 - The water seems quite pushy so making sure that you have the lower grade skills before rocking up to do any potential course they may offer in the future would help.
8 - I remember when snowboards were banned at ski resorts simply because they were new....and it was water skiing only at Penrith Cable-ski park...Now it's all about wakeboards!
My point is, it may only be time and acceptance.
9 - I know nothing about the financial implications, but I would think it could be quite beneficial with the rate packrafting is progressing.
10 - I watched two guys in an inflatable sit-on-top double kayak run the entire course with no paddles, backwards, flipping, swimming???? There must be something I'm missing....????

Anyway, I'm content to listen and learn for now and maybe hear some others thoughts again on the best way forward. I still believe doing some kayaking out there and getting kayakers involved may be the key.....To some, we're still a bunch of geeky bushwalkers looking for a theme park experience...Not so.

Some pics from yesterday....

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Grasshopper
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:42 am

Darren - some good thoughts there ! Thanks for activating this post as I've had my mind on where to find whitewater training. I'm also in Sydney so this is an obvious choice. I checked out the website last night and plan to do the first two courses as a 'kayaker'. I figure this is better than no training and could be a good 'stealth' approach to raise packrafts :-)

Fishdejour
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Fishdejour » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:46 am

Jules asked them about a training a while back and got a pretty negative response. Perhaps if we had 10 or so packrafters all prepared to pay for a course they may take it more seriously (money talks..)? I know that there were at least 6 starters when we looked running a packraft safety course in Canberra. I feel there is a real need to get a packraft specific course together as there are more of us out there taking on more technical water all the time and the rafts are gaining a big following pretty quickly.

Steve

Darren
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Darren » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:10 pm

I do recall something about the knock back which is why I kept quiet last weekend, as I figured Jules is a fairly switched on dude and was probably slightly better prepared at the time.

I think you're right about specific packraft training though Steve, despite my thoughts about kayaker's getting involved. I'm really interested to get some hard feedback from the center in regards to the specific reasons on "why not".

I am curious about possible safety reasons, as this is the only thing that IMO could stand as any real argument. Insurance policies more to the point. Packrafting may just seem like a fairly sizeable inconvenience to look into from an insurance perspective??? Maybe I'm way off the mark or ignorant to other possibilities...

PWS reserves the right to refuse the use of only equipment we consider to be unsafe or unsuitable for use at our venue.
• Boats must be of whitewater design with suitable buoyancy to float in grade 3 whitewater. Have bow and stern loops and paddled with a spray deck if designed to be used with one.


I'll do some homework about other WW venues around the world and see if I can find one that allows packraft use......might be time to drop Roman a line. Gotta run.

Grasshopper
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:41 pm

I've been listening again to the Backpacking Light podcasts on packrafting which were released in 2009, and specifically the series on safety. They mention the Rescue 3 International whitewater courses as being particularly useful for Packrafting http://rescue3international.com/R3home.php

The web site lists a group in Victoria - Rescue Training Group as the preferred supplier for Aust. Has anyone tried these courses ?

Grasshopper
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:38 am

Attended the White water centre last weekend for private instruction. I wanted whitewater but was told that I wouldn't be allowed to do any whitewater until I completed a 'moving water' course... Anyhoo the instructor was excellent and went through water reading principles, ferrying and using eddys which was useful to me as a beginner. He had also heard of packrafts and apparently they aren't welcome at the centre as their experience with trying them on the course had the packrafts 'wrapping' around obstacles - hence they are deemed unsafe. In my limited experience I haven't had my packraft warp, even trapped on a rock and getting hammered by rapids. So perhaps the inflatables they tried weren't Alpackas ?

The day wasn't wasted as the instructor allowed me to try the whitewater course on an NRS inflatable (long one) which was a tonne of fun.

So I'm thinking offering up an Alpacka for them to try might be the go and we can settle this packraft discrimination issue once and for all !

Darren
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Location: Sydney

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Darren » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:30 pm

From what I've seen go on at the centre, it has nothing to do with the Alpacka rafts. I don't mind saying it's pure ignorance about the progression of Packrafting at this stage. I wish I had more time and the head space to put something together right now. It needs careful and informed, constructive meetings with people in the know on both sides. I have no formal training and am still running an open boat so it's difficult from that perspective. I'd be more than happy to run the course in a kayak.

Ever tried convincing a surfer to introduce long boards at your local reef break? It's not until Sunny Garcia and Gerry Lopez rock up that the "NeW sKOOleRs" take notice. Most of the initial training involved is purely about the river, not the craft....The fact that people are asking the question while doing the courses is a step in the right direction.

Packrafts wrap around obstacles? Really Penrith? Then WTF is this?.......http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mIDECTfNwQ
(Embeding seems to be an issue, sorry)

Grasshopper
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:27 pm

"Packrafts wrap around obstacles? Really Penrith? Then WTF is this?.......http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mIDECTfNwQ"

Very enlightening Darren :-) Clearly I would have had more credibility if I rocked up with a Viking Galley dressed in a bunny suit.

(not sure what's wrong here can't get any of the formatting to work !)

Fishdejour
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Fishdejour » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:28 am

Jeeeeezzzzzus!!!! I can feel an email coming on :-O Surely they have shot themselves in the foot with such promo material??

Clearly money talks at the PWWC......I think we need to start putting together a group of paddlers that are prepared to put their money where their mouth are and be prepared to book a 2 day white water training course specifically for packrafts at the center. I am sure that if we could show that we had 10 or 15 paddlers prepared to fork out the dollars (what price??) then they would do a deal allow access? I am prepare to pay $500 bucks for a well run training course with safety, rescue, rivercraft etc etc that is packraft specific (especially if it prevents me drowning or one of my buddies). We need to approach them as a collective to show we have the numbers to make it worth their while (clearly they are not concerned about safety).

email me your thoughts and I will start putting together a letter to approach them (if you are happy with such an approach???)

steve@southeastconservation.com.au

Steve

Grasshopper
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:34 pm

Steve - I'll put some thought into an approach and email you.

From what I saw their revenue clearly comes from the punters riding the 6 person rafts. Every other minute one of these went through the whitewater course. So I can see an issue if you have a large group trying to learn whitewater, because it is difficult to co-exist with these behemoths ! Of course I'm putting the cart in front of the horse as we need Packraft acceptance before anything else - however I wonder at the viability of holding group training there on a weekend in any vessel ? Might need to negotiate a weekday which might also give more leverage as there would be significantly less regular revenue then.

As another option I contacted this group: www.rescuetraininggroup.com.au who were happy to provide swiftwater rescue training at a NSW river providing we could get a minimum of 11 people. The trainer I spoke to had experience paddling the Franklin in inflatables so at least would have some Packraft affinity.

Fishdejour
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Location: Bega, NSW, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Fishdejour » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:02 pm

I know when Jules was looking into sorting a training course we had 10 paddlers lined up so the numbers should not be an issue. I think getting a good trainer and a bit of river may be a better way forward rather than trying to sell it to Penrith?

Grasshopper
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:39 am

Quite possibly ! I'll do some more checking and come back with pricing and itinerary.

Action man
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Action man » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:34 pm

I'm definitely keen for a whitewater rescue course a la packraft. A couple of us have just bought alpaca rafts and are trying to up skill before going on an adventure in Sumatra in August! Anywhere kind of close ish to Sydney would be ideal!

Grasshopper
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:43 am

Action man - will be sure to let you know !

And it's good to see that Packrafts are welcome in other whitewater centers: http://www.packrafting.de/2012/01/wildw ... .html#more

Grasshopper
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:12 pm

I finally got around to contacting the whitewater center today and spoke to the Manager Jack Hodge about the issues with Packrafts at the stadium. I was interested in listening and understanding his reasons for the ban.

This is what he detailed:

Packrafts have a propensity to be sucked into holes and place the paddler at risk of collision from other boaters, particularly holes where there are 'blind spots' for other boaters
Issue with no inflatable floor and potential injury
Lack of maneuverability of the rafts mean they can't get out of the way of hard shells quick enough to avoid collision
Due to the 'busy' nature of the circuit the risk is too high for injury from other boaters

In general he felt that packrafts posed a safety risk for paddlers in whitewater as they are much more forgiving than kayaks (easier to learn) and rafters could therefore become overly confident in more difficult water and make mistakes. Also due to the 'cheap' price of acquisition this only made the last point more an issue due to numbers. Jack stated that he would counsel any friends to 'never' get a packraft due to the danger they posed.

Given the level of danger and the number of packrafts I asked him why there hasn't been any deaths and he felt it was just a matter of time...

I asked Jack how best than packrafters could build their skills given his center was off limits. His advise was to learn to paddle inflatables or hard shells at the center which would then transfer to packrafting.

So... given that position I would be very surprised if packrafts were gracing PWC any time in the forseeable future... FWIW I felt that Jack was genuinely interested in promoting safety but his knowledge of progression in packraft design and how they differ from other rafts isn't there. He sees Alpackas in the same vein as a cheap inflatable. Case in point he was surprised when I told him that a decked packraft was north of a grand. He also didn't think many packrafters would bother with spray skirts...

Anyway I don't have the paddling background to challenge with any credibility. For those of you that do, the PWC number is (02)4730 4333 and Jack's email address is hodgey@penrithwhitewater.com.au

In the meantime Steve has suggested that perhaps we could entice one of the Alaskan packraft gurus to Oz and get some top notch specialist training :-) I'll drink to that.

j bohm
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by j bohm » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:05 pm

Hi, I just registered so I could post this.
A friend and I have taken Alpacka rafts around Penrith whitewater stadium, in late 2009.
My friend had just done something like a five day white water course there, we were busting to put the boats to the task, before heading down to Tazzie to do a trip.
We just '' rocked up''. They were unhappy. They did not want to let us on the water. We gave our best shot at trying to legitimise our sport to these people, waving Roman Dials book around like it was the bible.

" Well first" the main guy said " That fella on the cover is wearing a push bike helmet........... so that shows us the real story".
How can you argue with that, when all this guy is thinking about is their insurance policy.
After about two hours of negotiation they agreed to 'inspect' the boats too see if they were worthy.
My friend sweet talked them, we dropped some names of past guides that have worked there and had worked with the staff we were talking too.

They let us on to see if they were "safe".
The whole place was watching us. It was very awkward.
They let us run out the afternoon and told us never to bring them back.
The boats were brand new, with spray decks, seats, we had proper kayaking helmets and PFD's, splat multisection paddles, grab handle on the back of the boat.

The "Official" view was that they wanted the boats modified, these modifications were:

- Multiple buoyancy compartments. So if the boat got a hole it didn't get sucked into there big expensive pumps.
- A raft style seat. The standard seat apparently screamed entrapment to them.
- A wet floor / self draining floor. Not having this was a major safety breach in their eyes.
- a neoprene ' pop off ' style skirt. Once again they said the spray skirt design was dangerous
- The material was not durable enough. They want a boat material that is as heavy a their rafts.

So basically if you try to modify or build a boat to their requirements, you have a vessel that would not handle like a pack-raft any more. Defeating the purpose of going there in the first place.
The feeling we got from this whole experience was that PWW is a business, the large groups going around in the rafts are dropping the coin to keep the pumps turning, they are the cash cow.
Pack rafters do not represent a large enough profit base for the PWW business to modify their insurance policy. They already make a bomb doing exactly what they are doing, why change???

That was 2009. I do not want to discourage anyone from getting down there to put forward a great case and getting pack-rafting going at PWW. I want it to happen.
I hope the information I have provided can help arm you for what you are up against (deaf ears). Hopefully this experience can help someone in formulating a robust argument for pack-rafting.
I really feel a group of pack rafters going there to make a point would have to be of considerable size (I'm thinking dozens) and maybe under the umbrella of some type of club, with recognized certifications.
(just thinking out loud).

Good luck to all

Jaime

( on a foot note: Their " world class " white water stadium doesn't compete when the Cox's river is 100cm high, not even for one minute.)

Fishdejour
Posts: 327
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Location: Bega, NSW, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Fishdejour » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:12 am

That is an intresting piece of history Jaime, thanks for the input, hope to see more of you on the forum and to hear of some of your other adventures.

I will refrain from airing my full opinion about Jack Hodges creds to make an assesment on Alpacka rafts as he has never paddled one and clearly knows little (read as nothing) about them. I am still at a loss to why he would allow the Redbull backyard built junk rafts on the course if he is in anyway concerned with saftey. I suspect the key stumbling block is financial and a fair serve of pig ignorance.

As Grasshopper detailed I feel we should look into importing an Alaskan training provider and find a suitable piece of water?? Can we have a show of hands of intrested paddlers??

Steve

Lizardboy
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Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Lizardboy » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:47 pm

Fishdejour wrote:
As Grasshopper detailed I feel we should look into importing an Alaskan training provider and find a suitable piece of water?? Can we have a show of hands of intrested paddlers??
Steve,
I'm in, best to start a seperate post determine interest.

Gus

mark
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Location: Hobart, Tasmania

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by mark » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:00 am

Hi All,

I meant to post ages ago on this but have been slack (& very busy at work).

From my point of view there are some valid points from both sides on this; although being a keen whitewater kayaker/paddler and instructor/OE teacher who is now infatuated with packrafting I would love to see PWS open it's doors to packrafts! Living overseas these days (Tassie) :) its not worth my while to fly to Sydney to make use of the venue but I can see that it would definitely be beneficial for others.

There are obviously now a number of different threads under this topic heading.

As with others I also suspect that any packrafters hoping to change PWS's policy would need to come across as serious and experienced whitewater paddlers/kayakers and that only after a significant period of use of packrafts at PWS by such individuals would beginner packrafters be allowed in. The other option is to try to 'convert' some of their key staff by taking them on a serious packrafting trip.

I certainly think that there is some degree of ignorance on both sides and agree that most kayakers and whitewater instructors have very little experience or understanding of the capabilities of a packraft. Some of my ignorant and uninformed instructor friends (yes you Bernie :) ) call my packraft a 'pool toy'. However as we know in the right environments and paddled by highly experienced WW paddlers they are easily and safely capable of paddling serious whitewater (i.e. serious 'low volume' grade 4 creeks). This should be obvious to anyone from a quick search on YouTube.

On the other hand I can see that for many in the whitewater paddling community it is very hard for them to to take packrafting and packrafters seriously. Use of bicycle/climbing helmets, paddling solo and often inappropriate clothing, footwear and PFDs certainly doesn't help packrafters to be taken seriously (kayakers havent cottoned onto going lightweight) but I think the even bigger problem is a lack of understanding by some packrafters of just how potentially dangerous moving water, let alone serious whitewater, is. This is also obvious from YouTube.

Jack Hodge is certainly right in saying that packrafts allow inexperienced paddlers quick and easy access to decent whitewater. It is one of their biggest advantages and instead of it taking years to master a kayak on grade 3-4+ water a packraft can allow a beginner to sometimes survive such challenges after only a handful of river experiences. As Jack apparently alluded to in his negative response to packrafts being used at PWS this though is not always a good thing. Eventually your luck WILL run out and such complacency will lead to a serious mishap.

I unfortunately agree that we will see a serious near miss or worse relatively soon as more and more experienced bushwalkers tackle remote and serious whitewater environments as relative beginners in terms of whitewater paddling. I am a strong believer in all paddlers undertaking both swiftwater/river rescue training as well as whitewater paddling training. These are actually two distinctly different areas although they obviously compliment each other. Packrafters actually have much more of a need to understand the principles of swiftwater rescue than many kayakers (eg slalom) do.

Swift water rescue tecnichian training (SRT) particularly though does not need to necessarily be based around packrafts so long as the instructor understands the needs of the clients and consequently the limitations (and benefits) of packrafts. Many SRT courses are often located along a very short section of river with minimal use of any form of river craft. Swimming, walking and ropes are used more than kayaks/rafts/inflatables/packrafts to access or rescue 'victims'. This means that most courses are certainly accessible to packrafters. The most important lesson of SRT is learning how not to get yourself or others into a situation where you/they require rescuing in the first place.

Rescue3 courses are certainly internationally recognised but there are other equivalent options. In Tassie the Tasmanian Polytechnic runs great 2-day river rescue courses: http://www.yourchoice.tas.gov.au/cis/EC ... ourses.pdf at an ideal venue and one that makes a great base for many packrafting missions.

On AdventurePro's Paddle Australia forum there was also a message posted recently about a SRT level 1 course soon after Easter on the Nymboida. Absolute beginners however would want to do some homework prior to signing onto any such course to ensure they show up with the right gear and an understanding of the basic principles of moving water and dangers on WW. I try to encourage people to do SRT in the colder months of the year on cold rivers as perhaps the biggest danger on southern rivers in Oz is hypothermia. Understanding this is an extremely valuable lesson to learn!!

From my past (limited) experience in playboats at Penrith many years ago it's actually not a great place to learn skills. It's a good place to hone more advanced skills but there are many other places (ie real rivers) that are much more user friendly and potentially more valuable for learning packrafting. Apart from SRT and WW paddling skills the third area that most short courses dont focus on is leadership and river running skills. To combine all these areas into a single decent instructional course would really require 10 days and the majority of this needs to occur on a real river rather than an artificial slalom course (PWS). It also needs to be remembered that it takes years to become experienced with WW.

I suspect that Goolang Creek near the Nymboida is actually a much better place to learn than PWS despite the latter being so conveniently accessible. In Victoria the equivalent would be on the Goulburn River at Blue Gums Caravan Park near Eildon and in Tassie it's at the Mersey WW Forest Reserve near Lake Rowallan. There are lots of Australian instructors that would do an equivalent job to an Alaskan instructor at a much cheaper cost. That said flying to Alaska to do a PR course sounds like a lot of fun!!

Just my two cents worth.

Mark

Darren
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Location: Sydney

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Darren » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:46 am

Hi Mark, thanks for all the great info and thoughts on the subject.

As a relative newcomer to world of WW, I'd have to say I've broken many of the cardinal rules (and bones) in the last two and a half years since being introduced to packrafting. I may not be the best example of a packrafter and might even be part of the problem in regards to the reputation issue. I don't think there are too many people, if any at all are paddling solo so the other points you made are probably closer to the mark.
I'll continue to do solo trips (rivers or otherwise) and it's not a careless, ill informed or foolhardy approach I take on any venture.

Being a new sport, and having no real prior knowledge of whitewater, is definitely the problem for most packrafters. The next hurdle is, having to approach a community of kayakers for training. There is an obvious dislike or ignorance towards packrafting from a small portion of the fraternity and as you've outlined it's hard to be taken seriously. It's hard to know what gear is acceptable and more importantly, safe when buying gear. I was almost laughed right out the door of a kayak shop when buying a throw bag recently for simply mentioning a packraft. I have a thick skin and am pretty comfortable with my ability, but can only imagine the next bloke never bothering to go back. I'll be returning to the shop soon to buy a hard shell...:)

We are not all simply bushwalkers looking for some fun. I know plenty of people across a broad spectrum of sporting and adventure backgrounds that have a great drive and desire to learn whatever skills are necessary to paddle whitewater. I've spent decades involved in other seriously dangerous water sports, but am under no illusion that WW can kill.

I have to agree on the point about Penrith being a great place to hone skills. I would probably gain much more out of the center now as opposed to the first time I stepped into a raft. SRT is critical for the core bunch of packrafters looking to paddle bigger water and finding a trainer along with a suitable piece of river shouldn't be too hard. I spent Saturday looking at a new section of river for exactly that purpose....and did I find gold! Maybe not for training so much.

Anyway, thanks for all the great info and discussion, especially those from the kayak community. Mingling with packrafters could see you banished from your village! :)

...and Steve, I'm in.

Grasshopper
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:00 pm

Mark I think that was a great 2c. Maybe even worth 5c :-)

Another little anecdote on packraft perceptions: I am planning a trip to the Barrington area, looking at some hiking / paddling, not so much a traditional packrafting trip but just staying in the area and doing day trips. So I noticed Barrington Outdoor Centre http://www.boac.com.au/kayak-self-guided-day-trips.php had self guided rafting tours, so I contacted them to see if they would provide transport only (alleviate the car shuffle) and I bring my own gear. To confirm that I would be river worthy they requested an itemised gear list. I specified one of the trips which was a 10km easy paddle and suitable for families and beginners (Class I some low level II). I made sure when specifying my gear to add a lot of qualifying information on the Alpacka and its appropriateness for whitewater. Their response re the Alpacka was: "... pack rafts are not suitable for our river. The small inflatable’s are good for big rivers but the Barrington is a small river with a lot of trees (there has been one death on the river which was the result of a pack raft type boat being used on the river)."

When I inquired further, apparently a lady died when she paddled into a strainer in an inflatable which 'folded over her'. This was a guided tour which begs the question about supervision and safety standards of the touring company (not the Barrington Outdoor Centre - they made sure they state that !) and who knows what sort of inflatable was used. So in effect they are judging Alpacksa unsafe for Class I/II Whitewater.

Bottom line - there is no differentiation between inflatables and as Mark said - the Alpackas are thrown in with the pool toys.

mark
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 5:19 pm
Location: Hobart, Tasmania

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by mark » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:41 pm

Really interesting to hear of this and a huge shame that commercial organizations aren't recognizing the true abilities of packrafts. I am actively trying to promote packrafts in Tassie and show people their potential but it is much easier to do that down here due to the small size of the paddling/outdoor community here. From my reasonably extensive experience with inflatables (I own 2 Incepts) they are actually much more likely to wrap than a packraft. I have managed however to wrap a packraft on the Kiewas in Vic. Due to the lack of perimeter lines and grab handles it then became a little difficult to pull off. Releasing a small amount of air quickly solved this though and these days I have added extra tie-downs to our packrafts.

I don't particularly want to stop packrafters wearing non WW specific gear etc (within safe limits) and certainly don't want to tell peole not to go solo or have adventure - I would be the last person to say this. Merely trying to say that it is difficult for us as the packrafting community to have it both ways. IF (and I am not saying that we do) we want to be taken seriously by WW paddlers, commercial organizations, National Parks, etc, etc then we would need to consider how we promote ourselves.

Thanks for the encouragement Grasshopper - I was thinking I should keep my big mouth shut.

Cheers, Mark

Darren
Posts: 189
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:15 am
Location: Sydney

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Darren » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:51 pm

Mark, thanks again and don't hold back with the info, we need experienced, respected people going into bat for packrafting.

Interesting about the shuttle thing Grasshopper, pretty sure they have provided Gus with the service before....and the death is unfortunate but I'd be interested to hear of kayak related statistics along with it. I haven't been to Barrington for over 25 years but our group wrapped and snapped clean a fiberglass canoe on a tree. The occupants were lucky as it was an inward tip and they were on the upstream side so it was close. Pinning could be an issue for all of us.

I'll be stepping back from the forum push but not from training and packrafting. I'm simply tired of hearing negative responses from the commercial sector at every turn. It's no wonder some of us are shying away from organised or group trips and doing our own thing. There is a growing market here for somebody with the right skills to take advantage of.

Fishdejour
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:51 pm
Location: Bega, NSW, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Fishdejour » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:06 am

Mark, really considered, valid and valued opinion, thanks so much for the input, please continue with your contributions, I would hope we are all serious enough about our chossen pastime to take on board constructive input and leave our egos out of it, your experience is invaluble. I hear what you’re saying and agree that the packraft community (developing as it is) has much to learn. I think the type of training your talking about is spot on, both swift water-river rescue training as well as white-water paddling training is required but I do believe that a packraft tailored program would be valuable. I think training in the boat we paddle can do no harm and would further develop the sport beyond its current amateur status. I do not really care what kayakers think, I am not intrested in us V them agry bargy, i just want a level of training available that may save a life and that will help to establish packrafting as a safe and enjoyable pastime.

Steve

Lizardboy
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Lizardboy » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:55 pm

G'day Grasshopper,
I have used transport for self guided packrafts trips from Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre twice last year, most recently in November or December. I paddled Binderra to Rocky crossing initially and then Cobark to the Steps, both with my girlfriend. I was asked about my experience and what safety gear I was carrying, which includes a PLB. Perhaps, given I have paddled several rivers, both in Canoe's and rafts over the years they were more willing to accommodate. I can understand they might be wary of new craft and less experienced paddlers. I did experience a negative attitude toward the rafts from one of the transport drivers, I listened and was polite. Overall I had a great experience with BOAC and paddling the river and would reccomend.

Cheers,

Gus

Grasshopper
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:13 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Grasshopper » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:24 pm

Hi Gus - Thanks for the info and PM. I will follow up the person you mentioned and also reference your recent trips.

Appreciate it.

pgonski
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:50 am

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by pgonski » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:32 pm

Hello; OZ paddlers; I have been invited to come to OZ to teach our 2 day Packraft River Safty course; This is a course my school, Alaska Kayak Academy, developed after watching packrafters get into trouble; mainly out of ingnorance of whitewater dangers and not having good river reading and paddling skills.

I have contacted the Penrith Whitewater Centre about using the venue to teach the class.

We have offered the course up in AK, for 3 seasons, and it has become our most subscribed course.

I ll work hard to get Packrafts into the Centre and hope to educate your outfiters and regulators that packrafts are a valid whitewater craft.

I notice that this thread started back in 2009, and the design of packrafts has changed considerably since then. The current Alpacka design, with the longer stern, eliminates "dump trucking", flipping over backwards. And the new boats handle much like whitewater kayaks now.

Keep your fingers crossed

as to the class: we are looking for an outdoor center that maybe willing to sponsor the class so that we can use thier liability insuranc. Our insurance will cover U S A citizens we bring to OZ, but not residents of OZ.

I m very interested in doing more classes than just the two planned in the Snowy Mnts.
Looking for feedack... thanks
jim Gonski
Alaska Kayak Academy
www.kayakcenterak.com

jeremy089786
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 9:32 pm

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by jeremy089786 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:45 pm

Hi Jim,

If you could make that happen it would be revolutionary for Packrafters in Syd, as there are so few rivers around that have been flowing recently! I use a hard shell or NRS packraft there every couple of weeks, but would love to get the Alpacka into the action.

We should have some extensive group chats about it at the training. Another idea might be to organise a fun packraft 'race' event to include some slalom, hockey (with a huge inflatable medicine ball) and throw bagging. Anyone be keen for that?

jeremy089786
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 9:32 pm

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by jeremy089786 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:52 am

Something to show the lovely people at the Penrith White Water centre?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss3na-5nh9Y

sharoc
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:55 pm

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by sharoc » Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:38 am

Have they changed the rules at Penrith for PRers?
A friend said he saw two PRers at Penrith 3 weeks ago - not kicked out and there for a few hours?!
Sharon

Darren
Posts: 189
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:15 am
Location: Sydney

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by Darren » Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:48 am

Hi Sharon,

I was out there in late December and a guy turned up ready to paddle when they pulled the pin on him. Interesting.

They must have had some close ties at the Centre to be paddling a packraft. I wonder if things may change if/when the Diva (new boat) comes out.

sharoc
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:55 pm

Re: Penrith Whitewater Centre?

Post by sharoc » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:58 pm

Hey Darren,
Ohh poo. Thought they may have seen the light or started turning a blind eye...
Let me know when ur up for anymore trips, be good to get a crew out :)

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