Last January artist Justy Phillips and writer Margaret Woodward walked along sections of the Derwent finishing at Lake St Clair using the support of friends. On some days they were accompanied by others.
This week I discovered that a group of children are currently engaged in a ‘Derwent River catchment school program’. They started their supported walk further inland in the upper catchment areas of the Derwent River, north west of Lake St Clair, and are yet to commence their trek towards the sea. In winter! What a strange choice of season to walk with inexperienced young bushwalkers in central Tasmania.
You can read more about their walk in the news story
Details of the program are available on the Expedition Class website. The site includes ‘Live reports’ which record the extreme weather rather than their progress. They are yet to walk around Lake St Clair before tackling some of the most challenging sections of the Derwent River. I wish them all the best.
Since starting my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River late in 2014, I have met people and heard of others who are considering walking the Derwent. Currently there are no walking paths for most of the 215 kilometres, and the dense almost impenetrable bush along the river edges in the upper reaches, makes this a dangerous activity for inexperienced bush walkers. Readers of my blog will recall that permission to walk on private land is not always given making some river sections inaccessible – this means that future walkers might not be able to accomplish their goal. If the numbers of people who seek to walk on private agricultural land increases, then even the most positive and supportive of landowners may decline to allow access to protect their livestock and property.
With the growing interest in undertaking such a journey, the time has come for Tourism Tasmania and the Department of Parks and Wildlife Service to examine the obstacles which need surmounting, to make a walk along the Derwent River possible and safe.