Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – what is the ‘real’ Derwent?

Will the real Derwent River please stand up!   Where should a person walk if they are ‘walking the Derwent’?

Since the Clark Dam was built in 1952, the Derwent River has not flowed from the area now known as Lake King William downstream across its original bed, until closer to Hobart.  Instead the Tarraleah Canals number 1 and 2 accept Derwent River water from Clark Dam/Lake King William at Butlers Gorge in central Tasmania.  These canals channel the water to penstocks that feed the Tarraleah Power Station.  Electricity is generated and then the water flows on to create more electricity at Liapootah then Wayatinah Power Stations.  Eventually the water empties into Lake Catagunya.

Catagunya Dam to Wayatinah PS.jpg

The old Derwent River bed is stony.  Along its length between Clark Dam and the bridge at Wayatinah, seepage from the steep hills creates pools of water.  There is sufficient water, although limited, to create a continuous running flow between the stones.  At the end of Spring the river bed looking upstream from Wayatinah was as follows:

20151029_113841.jpg

Michelle’s photo shows another view.

PA280100 on route to Tarraleah.JPG

In January the water level had dropped and the river bed looked like …

20160115_130425 Derwent.jpg

Similarly, between the bridge over the Derwent River bed at Wayatinah and the river’s meeting with the Florentine River, and downstream almost to Lake Catagunya, the river is often a stony bed with limited flow.

20160115_124544.jpg

Upstream from the junction of the Florentine and Derwent Rivers, upstream from the Wayatinah Power Station, I walked on the river bed where I could.

20151029_101151.jpg

To ‘walk the Derwent’ should one follow the original river bed or the Canals or a mix of both?

Since Tarraleah Canal number 1 runs more or less parallel to the old river bed and is usually located under 500 metres from that river bed, I chose to walk next to the Canal along the section before it turned inland to travel to Tarraleah Power Station. I rather liked the idea of staying as close to the original Derwent River course rather than following man-made deviations. However this ‘walkingthederwent’ project does raise the question as to what constitutes the ‘real’ Derwent River. Does it exist any longer? And therefore, is it possible to walk the Derwent?

2 thoughts on “Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – what is the ‘real’ Derwent?

  1. Mary McArthur

    I’m guessing that walking the ‘real’ old Derwent will provide a deeper satisfaction and sense of achievement than following the diversions of the man altered ‘new’ Derwent. Something about reaching the heart of the matter…

    Like

    Reply
    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      I like the idea of being close to the essence. From my point of view, the original river bed is authentic even if its water comes from hillside/gorge seepage. To my mind that water is still Derwent River water because it flows through the bed.
      Running from your idea of the ‘heart’, I wonder whether Tasmania’s Central Highlands might be our heart and the Derwent its main artery, pumping life-giving goodness across hundreds of kilometres and affecting much more.

      Like

      Reply

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s