Tombi Rapid

The woman who this rapid was named after must have been a tempestuous lady. This rapid is moody, some paddlers scrape down the rock without getting their hair wet but some fall foul of the lady's wrath and get recycled. In high water, it takes a fine line to escape her tentacles that seem to reach downriver and pull you back into her maelstrom. Watch the video closely and memorize the approaches in the pictures, but approach with respect.

If you would rather leave this lady to someone else, the takeout is far upstream, two thirds of the way down Gum Tree rapid. This easy path gives her a wide birth so you can avoid any sight of her.

Low Water Line

This rapid can be attempted by a novice paddler in low water, but know your landmarks! Never go left of the pinnacle rock at any level as there are undercuts and siphons through the boulders below the drop. Tombi is only 180m after Gum Tree and is a single drop with some prominent rocks to steer around immediately after the drop. In low water look for the "pinnacle rock" which looks less like a pinnacle the lower the water level.

Go right of the pinnacle with good boat speed and slide down the slope where the most water flows, with the intention of exiting to the left.

tombi chute1 low2

High Water Line

In high water it is strongly recommended that you do not shoot Tombi unless you have scouted it beforehand and know exactly where to go. The approaches change significantly as the water rises and it can be tricky to get your bearings. This guideline is for paddlers who know the rapid and need to refresh their knowledge. The line in high water is always the same. Identify the big pinnacle rock in the middle of the river and aim just to the right of it. When the water is high the pinnacle is barely visible. You want to be close enough to slide down "water & rock" to avoid the hole on your right, boat heading very slightly left. This is the tricky part: too far right and you will get gobbled in the hole, too far left and the powerful eddy will either tip you out or worst of all suck you back into the hole on the left which is extremely unforgiving.

tombi approach2_high2

tombi approach1_high2


One last thing, here's a tip I will never forget from John Edmonds: "If you can't see the pinnacle rock - GET OUT!".



Low Water Line

Medium Water Line

High Water  - good line

High Water - too far right


Tombi in Low Water


Tombi in Medium/Low Water


Tombi in High Water

Footage taken during the 2011 Dusi Canoe Marathon showing how tight the lines at Tombi Rapid are in High Water: