Anticipating a comparatively easy and short day of walking, my proxy Andrew left Hobart at 7 am and drove westwards and inland along the Lyell Highway, until reaching Catagunya Road where he parked his vehicle at the locked gate.
A friend drove him further along the highway, turned left just before the Liapootah Power Station and proceeded along the gravel surface of Long Spur Road towards the Wayatinah Power Station.
He arrived at the western side of the Station but needed to be on the eastern side to start this sector of the walk. Because it was not possible to cross over the Power Station outlet, and access through the Power Station is not permitted, Hydro tracks were followed to the most accessible part further away from the Lake Catagunya/Derwent River. Private vehicle access to the penstocks and beyond was prevented by a locked gate on the approach to the top of the penstocks, so the walk started there around 10 am. While it would have been possible to scramble beneath the penstocks, a detour to where the penstock began high up on the hill seemed like a good idea.
Wayatinah’s penstocks consist of two massive parallel pipes that carry water from the tunnel bored through from Wayatinah Lagoon. The pipes are approximately 1.2 km long and are made entirely of timber – coopered like gigantic continuous barrels. To keep it all together they are tightly bound with steel straps which keep the joints snug, save for the occasional trivial leak. Interestingly, inserted into the walls of the pipes every 50 metres of so, is a fire hose outlet (obviously the timber pipelines are not only protected from the inside!).
The walk began by heading around the top of the penstocks where they emerge from the tunnel.
There is an impressive view down the length of the penstocks to where they disappear around a distant bend for the final approach to the Wayatinah Power Station.
On the far side of the penstocks a good track leads down to the huge surge tank near the entrance to the power station. The glorious panoramic photo below distorts the view so I have also included a Google Earth aerial shot so you can understand the situation.
Past the surge tank but before the Power Station, a power line easement heads east, then south east, over a series of ridges and gullies to Catagunya Power Station. The forest next to the track leading to the easement was open with healthy eucalypts, dogwoods and some wattle trees sprinkled across the landscape. The day’s walk was a combination of traversing hills and gullies, and the next photo gives an appreciation of one of the more gentle hills.
Because of the steep and scrubby terrain, it was not viable to access or follow against the edge of Catagunya Lake (Derwent River) at water level. Instead, following the power line ‘clearing’ was the smart alternative.
Once serious walking along the transmission line ‘clearing’ began, it was obvious that sections had not been slashed in a long while. The going was irregular with patches of scrubby low level vegetation and fallen logs to negotiate so that, occasionally, Andrew walked off to one side for a clearer route. The next photo shows an example of a less straightforward area along the easement under the power lines, and helps to explain why deviating from this line made sense during the walk.