Touching the River

Blog followers know that electrified and barbed wire fences, unenterable gates, tangles of thorny blackberry canes and impassable private property have limited my direct access to walk against the Derwent River.  Since my project is not to walk on the highways and byways, and knowing I cannot start out from Gretna and go further by the River as I have hoped and wanted, I believe I need to change my ‘rules’ about this project.

The changes must happen because I am determined to get to the source of the River at Lake St Clair, even if it means doing so by using transport provided by friends, and if it means I can’t be near the river every metre of its length.  I feel I must accept what is possible rather than wailing about the impossible.

Therefore, I am researching all the main roads, backroads and tracks that go towards the river with its dams and lakes, and which do not have locked gates across them preventing access. I plan to create a list of these opportunities and then ask friends whether they would like to volunteer to drive me to one or more of the options.  In the next few days I will post the list on this blog – perhaps there may be other southern Tasmanian blog followers who would like to volunteer to drive me to one or more of these ‘touchings of the river’ – if so, when you see the list please email me at walkingthederwent@gmail.com.

Wherever I ‘touch’ the river I hope to be able to walk north and/or south as far as possible simply to feel more comfortable about saying, in the future, that “I did my best to walk from the mouth to the source”.  That is, I want to limit the amount of qualification I will have to give to that statement.  Quite possibly when I reach one of the touch points, I may determine a longer walk can be achieved. If I find this to be the situation, then I will return with backpack and tent if necessary.  In this way, the touchings of the river will amount to a reconnaissance.

Another option that I am investigating is whether I might fly either in a small plane or helicopter and follow the curves of the Derwent River, photograph it from on high and then incorporate the photos into stories about those edges of the river on which I cannot walk or otherwise reach.  I suspect flying may be out of reach financially so the thought of crowd funding has crossed my mind.  But before then, more research will be needed.

The option to canoe/kayak along sections of the River scares me half to death.  A family friend recently travelled in this way over a short section and has never been so frightened.  Apart from the dangers of the Derwent River’s water levels being unexpectedly changed as the water volume in upstream dams are managed, the dozens of rapids that punctuate so many stretches of the river present unsupportable dangers. I guess I lack the courage to try.  Or maybe it’s the unbelievably cold water I don’t want to fall into.

What haven’t I thought of? Any suggestions will be welcome. This idea is too much fun to be stymied by physical barriers.

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