Mostly I noticed the absence of birds (except for a pair of huge glossy Black Currawongs) in the motionless dry sclerophyll forests – was it the buzz of the electricity from the pylons, was it the relative lack of shelter or was it the heating day which might have sent the birds to the shady valleys? The only sound was the relentlessly growling and metallic-sawing industrial sound piercing the air from Nystar over the River. A constant.
At 11.45am, although I saw a tiny track heading towards the River, I continued uphill on the main trail with a Kookaburra laughing at me somewhere in the distance, and tiny moths flitting around my feet camouflaged to the ochre-brown-grey earth but noticeable for their motion. A tiny black jumping spider looked like a small glossy beetle when it landed and stayed still.
I pondered whether I should have made my own way along closer to the shore by ‘bush bashing’. The vegetation was sufficiently open to have made this easy enough, however it would still have slowed me down, and since I didn’t know the end game (the time it would take to get to the bus stop), I chose to stay on the main track. Even when the path split (at 11.50 am)with a red ribbon hanging on a tree to indicate this was a reliable alternative, I chose to stay on the main right hand path. With hindsight the left path may have given me a shorter route to Risdon – but I don’t know.
At midday the road split again. This time, as a Black Currawong flew overhead with its wonderful tail edging of white (made me think of the black and white dress Audrey Hepburn wore to Ascot in the movie My Fair Lady), I chose the left hand route. Small clusters of pink native flowers, with fragile connections to nurturing soil, presented posies left and right. Perfection.
This track dipped downhill to the left soon after, as I could see large water tanks on the hill to my right. Almost no undergrowth. Evidence of past bush fires through part of the forest.
In the valley, lots of different wild flowers bloomed offering me a visual gift.
At 12.10 and through the trees, I caught a glimpse of Risdon suburban houses but it was still a long while before I reached the suburb – obviously I missed tracks which could have taken me down more quickly, and instead I took the longer route, Shady. More bird song. Clean fresh smells. A vine entangling other plants with a delicate lilac-blue flower. Scenic it was and I have no regrets.
At 12.23 I took the left of a new split in the road and continued downhill. Lines of cobwebs occasionally floated across my arms and face indicating no-one else had walked here since the spider had swung across the path.
By 12.30 I reached a fenced enclosure for a water storage tank, the East Risdon Reservoir. I chose the road curving downhill on the left amidst a fresh burnt smell from the blackened bush on my right. At the time I thought it smelt like a cup of tea freshly made – but perhaps that was wishful thinking. Three minutes later I reached a locked bar gate preventing road traffic entry but with an easy walk around. Now I passed houses on my right as I walked the length of Risdon Street down to the Derwent River.
In Risdon at the T junction with Saundersons Road which edges the River, I stood and watched a fisherman in his lunch break, felt overwhelmed by the extent of Nystar opposite, noticed INCAT’s shipyard on Prince of Wales Bay a little further north on the western side, listened to the pervasive roar from industry on the other side of the River, and wondered if I my feet would take me further.
In the distance southwards I could see the Tasman Bridge.