Which River? There are 3 main rivers that you can raft in Cairns; the Tully, the Barron and the Russell River.  The Tully and the Russell rivers are full day trips, whereas the Barron River is a half day. Most popular is the Tully, because you get 4-5 hours of exciting grade 4 rafting along with some great rainforest scenery and it includes  a BBQ on the riverbanks. The Barron is much more tame, and only about 2 hours of actual rafting, with no lunch included. It typically runs only in the afternoon. The Russell River is usually done in 2 man inflatable kayaks, and that usually means just you and your friend on the raft. It is a very fun and exciting trip.  No experience is necessary on any of them but be prepared to fall out of the rafts and get wet. If you have time to do a full day trip then best to do that rather than the Barron as the cost is not so different, but the Tully and the Russell are much more exciting than the Barron. The Tully is the king of rivers in Cairns. It involves about 5 hours of rafting with a bbq on the banks of the river half way along. There are over 40 rapids on the Tully, including some grade 4 ones. Beginners do not need to worry though as an instructor is on each boat keeping everyone safe, and you get a short practice sessionbefore you start. When you are not holding on for your lift you will be spellbound by the sheer beauty and tranquilty of the rainforest that surrounds you. It is a 2 hour drive each way to the River. Presently there are 2 companies running the Tully, and both trips are more or less identical including the prices (about $200). However, Raging Thunder also have an extreme Tully which costs about $30 more but promises you lower group numbers and extra activities such as body surfing, rock jumping, rapid swimming and raft surfing. Well worth it. Rafting companies that do the Tully: R n R Raging Thunder Raging Thunder EXTREME TULLY.    Tully river (photo courtesy of Raging Thunder)   There are only half day tours for the Barron, all leave in the afternoon. The put in point is near the hydro electric power station, up in the lower Barron Gorge, about 20 minutes drive from Cairns. There are only really a couple of rapids worth worrying about and in the dry season you need to do a fair bit of paddling to get the raft moving.  This trip generally costs around $130.  There are 3 companies running the Barron and everything is pretty much identical, evern the prices. Rafting companies that do the Barron: Foaming Fury Raging Thunder R & R                   Barron River (photo courtesy of Raging Thunder)
© Cairns Backpackers Guide 2013
Cairns Backpackers Guide
Tully River Barron River Russell River
White water rafting
The Russell Riveris a full day trip with 3 hours of actual rafting time, and mostly 2 person inflatable kayak are used. That means no instructor will be on your kayak - you are in charge of your own vehicle! The instructors lead the way in their own kayak, and are there to help you out if you have a mishap. There is a short practice session before you begin and yes, first timers are fine on this river. There are many exciting rapids, but nothing too big. It is an hour drive to the river, then a 45 min walk through rainforest to the put in point. At the end of the kayaking, you get a bbq lunch. Because there is only running the river (Foaming Fury), there are never too many people adding to the adventurous atmosphere.  The Russell is dependant on water levels, so it does not run all year round. It generally costs about $150. Rafting companies that do the Russell: Foaming Fury
Rafting is a great way to get some thrills whilst seeing some otherwise inaccessble parts of the rainforest. It is also the perfect activity do do in the wet season, when the more rain there is, the more fun you will have!