Did I have company? – posting 6 of 9

On both sides of the Bowen Bridge lots of dry tall yellow grasses and other scrubby undergrowth grew next to the path. I was the only person around and the track appeared to be used rarely. The area was isolated; the closest residential area was over one kilometre away and I suspect that locals would seldom walk here. With the heat of the day and the nearness of the river, I was alert for the slither of snakes heading down for a desperate drink. However, I feel sure they would be deranged if they drank salty water  –  the Derwent is tidal at this point. Nevertheless I  did not want to step on or corner one – all Tasmanian snakes are venomous.

Strangely, not only did I not see a snake but I also did not see a water bird.  Thankfully there were a few chattering birds in the casuarina and eucalypt trees to keep me company.

Earlier in the day when I was walking around the Technopark fence line downhill nearest the Derwent River,  I had watched dozens of brightly blue and red coloured beetles- I haven’t seen these before, and a website for identifying Tasmanian beetles does not include this one.  Anybody any ideas?

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The experience was very pleasant and I would be very happy to wander this way again.

Word of caution for others who might follow in my footsteps: the seedpods of the casuarina were liberally sprinkled along the pathway and in the light dappled by the trees, full concentration was required so that I didn’t roll on them – a sprained ankle or a fall down the slope were just two possible consequences if I did not watch where I was going.

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Either side of Bowen bridge – posting 5 of 9

Once under the Bowen Bridge I could see a track continued in the easterly direction, and skirted around the bottom of Technopark.

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100 metres along this track I spotted the only sign of bureaucracy.

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I imagined I might surprise a fisherman at the end of the track or detect one who had made his or her way from the track to the water’s edge and was partially hidden by the bush. But I never did. I never saw anyone.

As I continued walking I spotted the township of Risdon across the river.

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And then the large industrial plant of Nystar came into view.

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Most prominently, the gaping ‘mouths’ of the  boat building company INCAT stood across the inlet of the Derwent River (Prince of Wales Bay) from Dowsing Point.

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Either side of Bowen bridge – posting 4 of 9

I decided to walk from the Bowen Bridge around Dowsing Point towards the Derwent Entertainment Centre on the Glenorchy side of the bridge.  A faint track showing occasional foot traffic looked promising and became my guide.

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Early in the walk along this track, easy views to and access to the water were not possible although as time passed the river came into constant view. 20170125_095427.jpg

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Then the pebbled and rocky shore appeared.

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I was delighted when I came across a slight semblance of a track down to the river’s edge.  Soon I was on the shore and walking that rocky ‘beach’.  The wind was fierce but not cold. My sunhat had no chance of staying attached to my head. I lathered on the sunscreen hoping for wind protection. But it was fresh and invigorating. The air was alive and so I felt even more alive. And so pleased that my return visit to Dowsing Point had been able to bring me down to the water of the Derwent River.

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Clearly native oysters grow on the rocks near the shore.  The whitening shells of long dead oysters were thrown up at the high tide level.  I was surprised not to see any Australian Pied Oystercatcher birds looking for a meal.

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I continued walking around the contours of Dowsing Point, thankful that the tide was out and the shore was wide enough, dry enough and had no insurmountable obstacles. But beneath the northern section of the fenced-in defence forces precinct suddenly the ground became marshy and a trickle of water in a swampy like environment emptied into the Derwent. I did not believe this was passable.  Perhaps if the tide had been lower and if I was wearing gumboots, I might have continued.  On another day, this most likely could be a doable section and one I could tackle from the Derwent Entertainment Centre end of the walk.

After searching unsuccessfully for alternatives, eventually I retraced my steps, and climbed a grassy hill for another view of the obstacle – which looks benign in the photo below.

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I have walked along the Dowsing Point suburban streets with paddocks at their ends that extend to the shoreline shown above, such as Park Road and Dwyer Place. Unfortunately high fences,  locked gates and dead ends prevent access to this defence forces land.  Trespassers Prosecuted signs were a deterrent.  20170125_091847.jpg

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From the obstacle preventing my continued shore walking,  I turned back and walked towards the Bowen Bridge.  Eventually I left the beach after reconnecting with the hillside track used earlier.

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Occasionally, next to the faint track through the grass, someone had placed track markers – coloured rectangles on posts. Very thoughtful.  On the way back I found a wonderful confusion of markers; just as we know some mailbox catalogue deliverers dump a pile of undelivered catalogues in drains or over someone’s fence, it seemed the person placing the track markers dumped his/her extras. So there I was, faced with an amusing mini-forest of markers all pointing nowhere and signifying nothing.

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The markers of mankind are always there to be found, and to be puzzled over by those without experience.  But I found my way and soon returned to the Bridge.

Either side of Bowen bridge – posting 3 of 9

Once at the bridge, I made my way  through long grass and weeds to the fence line hoping to find a gap or to be able to follow the fence downhill and arrive at the water’s edge.   I was relieved when the fences stopped giving me open access to the land below. The Derwent River was clearly visible so I continued scrambling downhill until I stumbled across a track which I followed under the bridge.  20170125_094951.jpg

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20170125_095256.jpg Once under the bridge I discovered a set of concrete steps which would have made descent easy.  To access these from the bridge pathway above, walk to the left of the plaque and then follow the bridge wall downhill until the steps are reached.  There are no gates to block progress.   20170125_095126.jpg

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Either side of Bowen bridge – posting 2 of 9

As I left Technopark I had a view of a new aspect of the Derwent River.

The Derwent River flows into Prince of Wales Bay and consists of tiny inlets including one at the bottom of the Dowsing Point hill.  I noted there were  no opportunities to walk next to the edge in the bay below – either vegetation hung over the water or private jetties and businesses crowded the edge.

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20170125_090532.jpg During the many vehicular crossings of the Bowen Bridge that I have made, I could never see where it would be possible to climb down and be under the bridge. Nevertheless I felt there must be a way.

I walked along a path from the Australian Army Derwent Barracks on Goodwood Road that leads to and crosses the bridge.  The quality of the path is variable and I suspect it is not much used. One cyclist passed me on my walk to the bridge and no-one was around during my return trip.

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At the bridge I noticed the large bronze plaque marking the official opening of the bridge – heavily graffitied.

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But was there a path to the river below?  The absence of signage was not encouraging.

Either side of Bowen bridge – posting 1 of 9

Stage 8 of my walk from the mouth the source of the Derwent River took me under the Bowen Bridge on the eastern shore, and during Stage 10 I walked past the Bridge at Dowsing Point on the western shore after deciding to walk to the mouth on both sides of the river. However, when on the western shore I could not easily see a way to stick by the river edge at Dowsing Point, and since that day promised to be a long one I took the easy option and followed the streets which cut across the Point. I always felt that I hadn’t been quite honest in taking this approach and that I needed to return and be serious about walking the Derwent edge to the extent it was possible.

So return I did, and this series of postings records that visit.

As usual within the Greater Hobart Area, I took a Metro bus which dropped me off one morning within the Technopark precinct at Dowsing Point on the Hobart side of the Bowen Bridge. Technopark is a state government initiative started over 15 years ago with the aim of providing support and encouragement for small businesses and creative individuals with technological related ideas that could be developed into significant money earners for Tasmania’s productive growth. It’s brief has expanded since its inception.

By leaving the bus at the turning circle within Technopark I hoped there might be ways to walk to the river edge and then continue around Dowsing Point.  Until I looked around that day, I had not realised this precinct is seriously fenced, including the installation of electric fencing, and there is no exit except through the main fortified entrance gates.  In the photo below you can see three layers of fencing, with barbed wire strung up at the top of the closer two fence lines- and the Bowen Bridge across the Derwent River in the distance.

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I walked to corners and along the fence lines without finding a gap, a gate or any chance of passing through.  I could see the Derwent River and the Bowen Bridge with Mt Direction overlooking both – but I could not reach them from the Technopark site.

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So I had no choice except to leave the Technopark and try other options to reach the River.  The day displayed a stunning blue sky overhead and a moderate breeze which rattled the long grasses.  Mount Wellington was ever present as I walked away from the river.

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Before long I passed through the gates and headed away from Technopark with the aim to walk to the Bowen Bridge.

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Big trees

One of the water flows which feeds into the Derwent River is the Styx River.  Long term blog readers will recall, in an early stage of my walk along the Derwent River, I passed the point where the Styx flows into the Derwent in the township of Bushy Park.

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These clear clean waters, and those of the Derwent River are used to irrigate hop fields.

So when media headlines recently mentioned the Styx, I was alert and interested.  The story focuses on an area further inland and in a very remote section of the Styx Valley. You can read more here about the process of photographing one of the world’s tallest trees – and the article includes some sensational photos.

A frisson of excitement pulses through me at the thought of those wonderful primeval forests.  Fresh and clean and original.  But alas, I believe these trees are close to forestry operations where similar trees are routinely clearfelled –  for wood chips! Refer here and here for more thoughts on the matter. If you use Google Maps to look at the Styx River area, a patchwork of logged areas are clearly visible.