Walking between Gretna and Lake Repulse Dam – 2 of 3

Fences and gates

Avid readers of this blog know that locked and impassable gates, and barbed wire and electric fences have stymied my progress in recent walks. As I expected, these exist not only on the perimeters of properties but also throughout.

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Therefore, my recent walks involved a great deal of walking away from the River in search of a way to continue; looking for a way to access the next paddock. I always hope for uninterrupted access to the river edge, but experience shows that hill climbing must be part of the process.  This means a simple 5 km section of the River might take 8 km of walking.  Being forever positive, I am glad for the expansive views of the River when I am up high.  But I am not in love with clambering up hills. Despite the deviations, I negotiated dozens of fences/gates.

The land

Farmers tell me that normally the land dries out in around six weeks’ time. However this year, the non-irrigated paddocks are parched.  The ‘soil’ of some land is sand and rock making me wonder whether it has been so for millennia or is only now tending towards a desert.  In other places, large fissures have cracked open the ground.

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Elsewhere, I saw evidence of large bushfires that probably rushed through the bush three or so years ago. New growth surrounded blackened trunks.

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Negotiating paddocks with livestock

Sheep and cattle wander through large paddocks on either side of the River in much of this area.

I do my best not to enter a paddock with livestock and always try to find alternative routes.  The result is grand deviations from the ‘straight line’ of walking the Derwent.

Cattle are curious or expect food and with their big bodies swaying they tend to walk towards you. Then at a point when I begin to feel most uncomfortable, skittishly they run off.  On the other hand, sheep stand and stare until alarmed. Then they run off, bleating madly.

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I don’t believe it is useful to raise either their or my stress levels.  At this time of the year when lots of mothers and their calves or lambs abound, the last thing I want to do is stress these creatures.

Occasionally, I have shared a paddock with either cattle or sheep. When in a paddock with the animals, I have done my best to walk in such a way that they move slowly away rather than charging off manically.  However, when I saw rams staring at me from under their sharp curly horns, I saw no point in confrontation, and took an alternative route – which in this particular circumstance required me to descend a very very steep hill, knowing I would have to climb back up further along. And I don’t like hills.

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Crops

Commercial and feed crops cover some of the land. I am not a farmer but I think the following photo shows wheat. Can anyone advise me?

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I feel sure this is barley below but am I correct?

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And I know the photo below shows oats.  I once had bales of oat straw brought to mulch my garden. Ever since, wild oats have sprouted and I have come to love their lacy heads.

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I have no idea what I was looking at when I came across this irrigated crop – can anyone identify the vegetation below?

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