Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – a surprising trickle

Blog followers may remember that at the start of my walk against Tarraleah Canal number 1, I was surprised to see an empty Canal.  Later in my walk I was even more surprised. After a few hours of walking, I stopped, looked, frowned, looked again and peered more intensely. A dribble of water was moving.  I blinked furiously.  Was I imagining that the water was running? No – the water was flowing.  Wow!  I was here on a day which next to nobody ever sees: a dewatered Canal and then one which is filling.  What a thrill.

In the photos below you can see that the water level is edging higher up in the Canal the closer I walked to my destination and the start of the Canal at the Clark Dam.

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The speed with which the water flows can be appreciated in the video.

Any person who decided to drop down into the empty Canal would have no way to clamber up and out over the deep smooth concrete sides and would be trapped.  If you fell in once water ran through the Canal, then the speed would quickly whizz you into the penstocks and before long you would be filtered out in tiny pieces at the Tarraleah Power Station before the water proceeded along at a crushingly powerful pace to create electricity.  I guess the remoteness and isolation prevent idiots from discovering this snaking gem – or maybe even idiots can appreciate the dangers.

Thanks to Tim, a Hydro Tas mechanical engineer who was working at the Butlers Gorge Power Station (Clark Dam) on the day of my walk and who was kind enough to drive me back home to Hobart, I know Hydro Tasmania had deliberately ‘dewatered’ the Canal in order to complete maintenance work at the Butlers Gorge Power Station and at the Tarraleah Power Station.  Obviously tonnes of water pressing through while someone changes a valve or whatever, means the job won’t get done.  While Canal number 1 was dewatered, Canal number 2 a little further inland was running full with water in order for the Tarraleah Power Station to continue to generate electricity.

When I met Tim at the end of my walk, I learned he was responsible for the final maintenance and the rewatering. On his mobile phone he had taken photos and a short video of the first cylindrical gush of water – he was as excited as I. The power of the water was obvious.  A perfect picture of a powerhouse for generating electricity.

I learned that it would take the Canal two hours to reach full capacity between Clark Dam and the Tarraleah Power Station.  I had seen all stages: the Canal empty and later with a dribble across the bottom.  Then the closer I came to Clark Dam the higher the water reached up the Canal walls.  By the time I reached the start of the Canal near the Dam, the water level was at its highest but for some reason I don’t have photos after a certain point back down the road – frustrating.  I know my feet were hurting and I was plodding with determination to reach the end.  I suspect that I lost focus on maintaining a photographic coverage of the whole distance. Maybe someone will want to drive a couple of hours up there with me one day so I can get those additional photos.

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