The Bridgewater Jerry … or is it Gerry?

This morning the Bridgewater Jerry obliterated my view of much of Hobart from the eastern shore. The Derwent River stopped being visible. In the sunshine, its fast moving roll down the river towards the sea was spectacular.

The Bridgewater Jerry moving down the Derwent River with Mount Wellington in the background. Taken from the eastern shore 17 August 2014

The Bridgewater Jerry moving down the Derwent River with Mount Wellington in the background. Taken from the eastern shore 17 August 2014

2014-08-17 08.51.00 2014-08-17 08.51.29

The internet offers many sources of further images and information. Examples are listed below (I was surprised to learn the Jerry has its own website, a public sculpture has been created in its honour, and Australia’s premier dictionary contains an entry. That’s not all – have a look at the websites listed below).

http://www.bridgewaterjerry.com/  … The Jerry has its own site showing one glorious photo but with no identifiers, date or other information.

 http://prelive.themercury.com.au/article/2012/07/02/342041_tasmania-news.html … In 2012, the local newspaper The Mercury published a short story with a couple of views when “ ‘Ol Jerry rolled into town”.

 https://www.flickr.com/photos/esereth/9252562361/ … this Flickr site offers a sensational air view of the jerry

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDsVB5Nz3K8 … thanks to Damien Brockie’s time lapse video you can see the movement of the fog down the Derwent river heading towards the sea.

 http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/26190783

This site shows a scanned copy of a 1946 newspaper article which described the draught as keeping ‘the thermometer at freezing point’. The article pointed out that the township of Bridgewater has been libelled because the fog starts further up the valley. Apparently, at the inland town of Bushy Park the fog is known as the ‘Bushy Park Blizzard’.

 http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2009/05/13/2569108.htm  …..

In May 2009, Carol Raabus wondered where the name ‘Bridgewater Jerry’ came from.  She reflected that “It’s that time of year when the mornings are crisp and you just don’t want to get out of bed. You look out the window and see nothing but a thick fog, blanketing Hobart’s suburbs from the Hobart docks, up to Bridgewater and further up the Derwent Valley. But where did the fog get its name? And should it be spelt ‘Jerry’, or the less common, ‘Gerry’? One theory of the origin of the name is that word ‘jerry’ came from London, where it was thieves’ slang for mist or fog, and the term was transported to Tasmania with the convicts. David James writes in The Companion to Tasmanian History that the first written reference to the fog, although not using the name Jerry and not coming from Bridgewater, was in 1821 when Governor Macquarie wrote he couldn’t leave Austins Ferry for Hobart until 12.30 one day, due to the thick fog.”

 http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/B/Bridgewater%20Jerry.htm ….

David James (2006, Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies) declared “the ‘Bridgewater Jerry’ is a fog which occasionally affects the Bridgewater Hobart area. At night, in cooler months, cold air drains down the mountains of southern Tasmania as katabatic winds and collects in the Derwent Valley. Fog will form if this invading air is moist and cool enough. It drains out of the valley in the mornings, blowing the fog with it. The fog mainly affects the Derwent and the northern and western suburbs of Hobart, but occasionally reaches the Eastern Shore.

https://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/resources/aus/word/map/search/word/Bridgewater%20Jerry/Tasmania/

The Bridgewater Jerry has an entry in Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary. “A dense, remarkably compact stream of fog which occasionally rolls down the western shore of the Derwent River (presumably from Bridgewater) into parts of Hobart.

  • Contributor’s comments:A front of fog Cold air drainage condensing. Usually ‘Bridgewater gerry’ describing the phenomena on the Derwent River from Bridgewater to Hobart but I have often heard it generalised in southern Tas. Not in any Tas lexicons. Suspect origin is post-WWI Gerry = German and looks like a gas cloud. The effect usually is that a bright clear and crisp Hobart morning swamped by cold fog flowing down the Derwent from Bridgewater: “Did you see the gerry running this morning? I was on the bridge when it hit.” Generalised: “Careful about buying a place in that valley, there might be a right old gerry running down there in the winter.”

  • Contributor’s comments:The Bridgewater Jerry gently rolls its way down the Derwent at the start of a winter day, often shrouding the low-lying riverside suburbs for most of the morning. Those people living in Hobart’s hillside suburbs would often be basking in brilliant warm sunshine before plunging into the dense, wet and cold on their way to work or school.

  • Contributor’s comments:I believe this term comes from the days when the Bridgewater Causeway was being built by the convicts – there was one named “Jerry” who was always smoking a pipe leaving a cloud behind him. Therefore when a fog was seen on the river it was associated with Jerry’s pipe.”

 http://www.arts.tas.gov.au/news_archive/unlikely_icon_celebrated_in_sculpture  … The Bridgewater Jerry, a unique fog that rolls down the Derwent Valley, has been immortalised in a public art project led by artist Tony Woodward.  Unfortunately all the links to an image of the sculpture, its location and other information do not work.  Where is this sculpture?  Does anyone know?

3 thoughts on “The Bridgewater Jerry … or is it Gerry?

    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Hi Bill I am not sure if you are being funny or not. If you read the full post it covers all the names and permutations and the locations where the Jerry/Gerry/fog starts inland – perhaps you were not able to access all that information.

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      1. Bill Rollinson l

        I have lived close to the Derwent for well over 60 years, I does not matter how you spell the name. It is just fog drifting down from the central highlands for as long as I can remember.

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