Increasingly blog followers have questioned my enigmatic no-name status. I have been secretive about my identity to protect myself from predators and weirdos. My surname is so rare that I wouldn’t want someone to track me to my house. When the walk was over I intended to reveal and explain more about myself so everyone could understand why I presented myself only as Tasmanian Traveller.
Despite this approach, for people who have emailed me, I have opened up a little more. For the woman from upstate New York who visited me and asked to walk on some of the sections she had read about in my blog, of course she got to learn so much more about me. And she, and others, have been most respectful and careful to keep my gender and characteristics neutral and non-identifying. Thank you.
Now that the process for my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River is evolving, I no longer see a need to retain my protective shell. From now on, there will be safety in numbers as I walk with one or more friends.
So who am I? My name is Helen Tyzack and I come from a working history in the visual arts and museology industries, plus an overlay of working in or for many different types of education institutions, government agencies and not-for-profit organisations. All my life I have walked to get around, keep costs down, to be kinder to the climate, and to experience the beauties of the natural environment at close quarters. A few years ago I sold my car and have walked or used public transport ever since. As a female, I have wanted to walk alone in remote and isolated country and by maintaining my anonymity this has been comfortably possible. I am on the mature side of 60 years of age, short in stature with an overweight body, various health challenges and perpetual problems with my feet. But I refuse to let these characteristics and impediments prevent me living; they slow me but they do not stop me. I will not let them stop me. I am energised by the possibilities of discovering new places, and my walk along the Derwent River has exceeded all my expectations. In recent years I have flown off to different countries around the world to learn and experience new adventures. It has been one of the greatest surprises that the Derwent has offered so many revelations that the thought of overseas travel has been halted. I guess it is always easier to think somewhere else will be more interesting yet a place right on your own doorstep can offer ‘the world’.
The photo of me above was taken by a passer-by as I walked past Otago Bay at the end of last year on Stage 7 of my walk along the Derwent River.
For each of the 15 walking stages completed so far, I have walked alone and independently, and have only been supported by public transport when buses deposited me at a starting point and collected me from each walk’s destination. I have realised this practice cannot continue because of the limited public transport options available in central Tasmania. As an alternative, I have decided to try a UBER-style approach to transport – friends are offering to be my chauffeur and in some cases they are offering to walk with me.
To cope with the constraints of private property restrictions, I am working with locals and others to obtain various kinds of alternative access to the Derwent River. No project ever goes totally to plan and that is the joy of exploration: discovering new ways to meet changing personal expectations keeps my brain active and my mind vitally alive.
During my last walk, I reached the township of Gretna. From now on, as I head inland towards Lake St Clair, I expect to be accompanied by a friend who will drive me to key locations. Whenever we ‘touch’ the river I will walk north and south along the edge to the extent that the river and the landscape allow. Gradually, I will walk past the river until I sink down with pleasure on the dam wall at the southern end of St Clair Lagoon with my goal achieved. The next stages of my walk will represent the collection of the final pieces of a fabulous patchwork quilt – and once I have all the pieces, I will stitch them together into my blog to record a sequential and seamless walk from Gretna to Lake St Clair. And then I will write two books: one will be a how-to-do-it publication for tourists and locals who want to understand how to use public transport to discover the river edges, and the second book will be a fictionalised account of my walk.