Do what makes you happy


This blog post is not about my walking the Derwent River however it is about the spirit in which I tackled the trek.

I made my own mind up about where I would go, how I would get there and return, how long I would take, and the shape of the overall experience.  While some people were exceptionally nervous about my walking along some parts of the river, only two people told me not to walk particular sections. But I didn’t listen. I knew that, despite my bad ankles, feet, and knees I could do anything I wanted and would.  Even if it was at the rate of half the speed of what ‘normal’ people do – whatever that is.

My project to walk from the mouth to the source has always been intended to inspire others to find their own projects – not necessarily walking projects – but always discovery projects where you face the uncertainty of not knowing the outcome.  Let me tell you – you can do so much more than you believe.

One of the blogs which I follow, Soul Trekkers, has published a post telling how she follows her own path despite other people wanting to decide for her where she goes.  You can read it at Choose your Own Adventure.

Be inspired and find your own projects.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone (but keep safe) and enjoy finding out more about this wonderful world of ours.




Andrew Hughes has walked, rafted and canoed the Derwent over the past month

My last post introduced the Expedition Class’s  latest project.  The key man during the journey was Andrew Hughes and now his trek is complete.

The first newspaper coverage of this story was published in The Mercury last May.

The Mercury published another story recently ‘Warm welcome for adventurer Andrew Hughes as he paddles into GASP‘. His journey started north east of Lake St Clair in central Tasmania and now Andrew has crossed an imaginary finish line between the Iron Pot on the eastern side of the Derwent River and Tinderbox on the western side and this conclusion has been covered again in The Mercury.

If you go to the web,  you can read the mini ‘Live Reports’ of the 28 sections of his journey. You can peruse a collection of photos for each section. The information in the reports is limited and no information is offered with the photographs.  Unless you have travelled the  edge of or on the Derwent River, it would be difficult if not impossible to identify locations.

A comparison of some of Andrew’s photos with those I took during my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River, makes for interesting viewing.

Firstly I would like to compare the rush of water over the river rocks between Wayatinah and Butlers Gorge that Andrew saw compared to the low almost absent water level that I experienced on two occasions. Since I completed my walks along the Derwent earlier this year, Tasmania has been inundated with unexpected high levels of rain which have raised the water levels in the dams and the Derwent River.

The photo below was taken by me in October 2015.


The next photo was taken by me in January 2016


The photo below is by Andrew as shown in his Live Report 18.

1471514898-IMG_3177 from 18 of expedition class live reports.JPG

My photo below shows the water level of the huge 15 kilometre Lake King William was so much lower in October 2015.


My photo taken only 2 ½ months later at the beginning of January this year, showed the water level  had dropped dramatically so that the Tasmanian government was considerably worried about our electricity generation options.


In Live Report 15 Andrew shows the Lake King William water backed up to Clark Dam at Butlers Gorge. Tasmania is no longer worrying about our water storage facilities and power generation. Again we have enough water to create clean electricity.

1471254936-IMG_3085 from live report 15.JPG

These photos are wonderful reminders of the unpredictability and power of nature.   Andrew’s reports and photos are an excellent example of people getting out into our Tasmanian wilderness and experiencing it’s challenges and wonders.  I hope his trek inspires others not necessarily to cover the same territory, but to find new country to discover and enjoy.  To be refreshed by the purity of the bush.

More adventurous walkers are tackling the Derwent

Last January artist Justy Phillips and writer Margaret Woodward walked along sections of the Derwent finishing at Lake St Clair using the support of friends.  On some days they were accompanied by others.

This week  I discovered that a group of children are currently engaged in a ‘Derwent River catchment school program’. They started their supported walk further inland in the upper catchment areas of the Derwent River, north west of Lake St Clair, and are yet to commence their trek towards the sea. In winter!  What a strange choice of season to walk with inexperienced young bushwalkers in central Tasmania.

You can read more about their walk in the news story 

Details of the program are available on the Expedition Class website.  The site includes ‘Live reports’ which record the extreme weather rather than their progress.  They are yet to walk around Lake St Clair before tackling some of the most challenging sections of the Derwent River.  I wish them all the best.

Since starting my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River late in 2014, I have met people and heard of others who are considering walking the Derwent.  Currently there are no walking paths for most of the 215 kilometres, and the dense almost impenetrable bush along the river edges in the upper reaches, makes this a dangerous activity for inexperienced bush walkers.  Readers of my blog will recall that permission to walk on private land is not always given making some river sections inaccessible – this means that future walkers might not be able to accomplish their goal.  If the numbers of people who seek to walk on private agricultural land increases, then even the most positive and supportive of landowners may decline to allow access to protect their livestock and property.

With the growing interest in undertaking such a journey, the time has come for Tourism Tasmania and the Department of Parks and Wildlife Service to examine the obstacles which need surmounting, to make a walk along the Derwent River possible and safe.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgirmage of Harold Fry cover.jpg 

This novel by Rachel Joyce (Transworld Publishers 2012) is a seemingly whimsical fiction about a retired man, similar in age to me, who walks down the hill from his house to post a letter.

When he reaches the post box he walks on to the next, and then keeps going.  He lives in the south west of England but as the hours of walking pass he decides to keep walking to the north east corner of England and deliver his letter in person.  He simply cannot stop and go back home. Along the way, as he places one deteriorating tennis shoe covered foot after the other in all weathers, he begins to see the world around him, he reflects on his life, and he attracts unwanted media attention and a gaggle of followers. Somewhere along his walk, he remits his wallet and watch and all personal effects back to his wife before continuing his walk hoping for the goodness of people to survive.  Eventually he staggers into his destination, works at removing his tangled beard and taming his weathered hair.

This is an easy read but full of insights only normally attainable by the relentless pursuit of a goal via a simplified lifestyle.  Harold Fry’s story contains both humour and sadness, and is remarkable for its exposure of the rich ordinariness of a person with a grand vision.  I recommend you read this book.

Has the river of blogs dried up? Is my write up of the walks along the Derwent River over?

from MountWellington.jpg

 This wonderful image of ‘Hobart from Mt Wellington’ is the work of Tourism Tasmania and Garry Moore. This free photo has unrestricted copyright.

Has the river of blogs dried up?  Is my write up of the walks along the Derwent River over? The answer to both questions is no.

For a long time, blog followers have received a daily post covering my experiences after I have walked sections of the terrain from the mouth to the source of Tasmania’s Derwent River, plus my additional writings about various aspects of the social and natural history of the Derwent River.  Yesterday and this morning were a rude shock for some Australians – no blog post to absorb over the breakfast cuppas– and for my overseas followers spread across many countries, their regular daily dose arrived at many different times depending on the time zone in which they live.

Have I run out of stories to tell, descriptions to give and photos to show? The answer is a resounding no. I have much more to expose. Please be assured that you have not seen the sights of all the kilometres of the Derwent River, nor heard about all its challenges, in my blog yet.  So why the absence of new posts?

I have committed to another major project which cannot wait any longer for my sustained action. I like huge projects.

Last year I discovered that the first Tyzack in my line (3 different lines came to Australia from England in the 19th century) arrived at Port Melbourne 150 years ago this coming December.  Impulsively I decided (without research or planning just as I conceived the idea to walk the length of the Derwent River) to organise a family gathering later this year for all my great great grandfather’s descendants spread across Australia. Two family members agreed to support me –thankfully one has prepared a family tree. The Tyzack 150th anniversary organisation is now my priority, because there is a book to be put together and published, field trip guides to be developed, and much more – I still haven’t received responses to my introductory letters from most of the over 100 living descendants (almost all whom I have never heard of leave alone know) so I have a big job ahead tracking them down and getting them onside and involved.

This family event is scheduled early in October – so, if not before then, from mid-October onwards I expect to continue writing up the Derwent River walking blog stories.  Probably I won’t be able to restrain myself so that, from time to time, a post may appear.

The photo below taken by Michelle shows the eastern shore mouth of the Derwent River, Cape Direction (on the right) and the Iron Pot islet sits out within Storm Bay.



The Derwent River – in bits

Seventeen Service Tasmania maps are needed to show the entire 215 kilometres or so length of the Derwent River.

List of maps.jpg

These maps and Google Earth maps are all out of date (most of the ‘current’ Service Tasmania maps are dated in the 1980s – only 8 were published this century) and fail to show the tracks and roads that now exist. In addition, they fail to show more recent land use, such as plantation forests, which can impede or side track any walking excursion.  I am so grateful for my wonderful small plane flight along the Derwent River from the mouth to the source and return.  The photos taken during that trip were a great boon and have helped in the planning of my walking routes.

So what does the river look like from mouth to source? The following maps (created using the Listmap service) are ordered sequentially from the source to the mouth so you can run your eyes down the images and imagine the Derwent River flowing out to sea.  In moving through these maps, you will see how the river changes direction dramatically and therefore you may understand why, from time to time, I could refer to the east or south or north or west of the river.

A Lake St Clair into Lake King William

B Derwent Bridge down Lake King William

C Lake King William to Butlers Gorge

D Butlers Gorge and Tarraleah Canal No 1

E Butlers Gorge to Wayatinah Lagoon

F Wayatinah to Catagunya Dam through Lake Catagunya

G From Lake Catagunya past Cluny Lagoon

H From Cluny Lagoon down into Meadowbank Lake

I Down Meadowbank Lake to Meadowbanl Dam

J Meadowbank Dam to Gretna

K Gretna to Plenty

L Plenty to New Norfolk

M New Norfolk to Granton

N Granton and Bridgewater to Claremont and past Old Beach

O New Norfolk to Hobart

P Mouth at South Arm and Tinderbox - Old Beach

The overview map below pinpoints the source of the Derwent River and pinpoints the two sides of the mouth where the River enters Storm Bay before the sea.  Long term blog readers know that I walked from eastern side of the mouth to the western side of the mouth via the Bridgewater Bridge before returning to the bridge and continuing the walk inland.

Start and finish pinpoints and Bridgewater Bridge 

On my blog home page, between menu items HOME and USEFUL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, I have created another page with these maps but including written information about each in terms of my walk. In this post, I simply wanted you to be able to visualise the Derwent River and my walk in the simplest way.

Be aware that, if you want to dig deeper for further information about the specifics of my walks in the different sections of the River, you can use the Search box on my blog’s Home page (on the right hand edge). Simply add in a location or idea, click enter and up should come all the blog posts about that place or idea.

Please note some information has not been posted and will never be posted because it relates to properties along the River between Gretna and Lake Repulse Dam – I have promised some landowners I will not provide information or photographs which indicate I have been on their properties.  I feel your frustration about these ‘gaps’ in my posts because I have some exceptional photos, information I could share and stories I would love to tell. But I am happy to honour my promises.  I feel privileged to have been given access.

For newer blog readers who feel like they might follow in my footsteps, please be aware there are no walking tracks between the Bridgewater Bridge and the source of the Derwent River at St Clair Lagoon. I do not recommend others follow me except around the Greater Hobart Area where, for most of the time, formal walking tracks have been built by local government. One of the reasons not to continue past Bridgewater Bridge is that walking on the main roads is extremely hazardous – I cannot recommend it. Also, please note that after New Norfolk few public roads are sufficiently close to the River.  In addition and perhaps most importantly, all the country between New Norfolk and the source of the River is owned privately, by corporations or by the Tasmanian government.  Determining who the landowners are, researching their contact details, and asking for permission to cross their land is a slow process and not all will grant access.

On this basis, I hope my photographs and stories (more still to be written) will be sufficient for you to enjoy the Derwent between New Norfolk and the source.  However, where you can use public roads to access specific points such as St Clair Lagoon, Derwent Bridge, Butlers Gorge and parts of Tarraleah Canal number 1, Wayatinah Power Station, Lake Repulse Power Station, Dawsons Road across Meadowbank Lake, and next to the Bushy Park sports oval, I recommend you make the journey. It will be worthwhile.

Meadowbank Dam and Power Station

Meadowbank Dam and Power Station, as part of Hydro Tasmania’s electricity generating facilities, are located the closest of their properties to Hobart.  Access to the Dam is restricted.

East of the Dam, Meadowbank Dam Road makes the connection with the Lyell Highway but this is a locked gate gravel roadway.  Meadowbank Road is a quite different road; this public gravel road exits the Gordon River Road west of the tiny township of Glenora and travels in a north-westerly direction, but mostly not close to the Derwent River – so that it isn’t reasonable to be used as the conduit to ‘walk the river’. Before reaching the Dam, the road passes Meadowbank Vineyard and acres of vines under cultivation. However, access is restricted: there are quite a few lockable gates barring continuation to the Dam.







The first unit of the Meadowbank Power Station was commissioned in 1967. This was the last such operation to be built in Tasmania.  Photos are on show on Hydro Tasmania’s website and more details are available on their Fact Sheet .  The CSIRO library holds another photo taken from a different vantage point.

I am grateful for Alex driving me as close as we could go by car.