The Derwent River in 1958

Recently a friend sent me a link to an extraordinary 9 minute film that was made in 1958. The film is based around New Norfolk, a town located approximately 35 kms west of Hobart. The Derwent River bends around the edges of the rural town that is now built up on both sides of the river.

Enjoy watching the film ‘Valley of the Derwent’, produced by the Tasmanian government, here. Please bear with the excruciating sound of the music so you can listen to the 1950s style narration. The images start at Granton about 18 kilometres west of Hobart. The voice-over explains the original virgin bush ‘had never known the axe or the plough’ indicating a firm belief in the 1950s that taming the wilderness (a euphemism for ‘removing the bush’) was what humans should do. Regrettably there are still too many people (including governments) who feel similarly in 2020.

Early on you see the black swans on the river. David Walsh owner of MONA has just released a diary entry where he refers to the black swan as the unknown unknowns. Makes for interesting reading – here.

I was fascinated that a composer William Wallace, according to the film,  wrote the opera “The Spirit of the Valley” while he stayed at the historic Bush Inn in New Norfolk. It led me on a merry chase through archives and online resources. However recent academic research indicates this is a myth generated over the years, and that even the writing of one song for an opera while he visited New Norfolk is unlikely.

For long term blog followers, the filmed section on the oast houses may bring back to memory my fascination with those at Bushy Park when I ‘discovered’ the texts on the buildings as I walked west from New Norfolk. Refer here.

It made me think how many years have passed and what a world of difference there is since the film was made. For example, I was six years old when the film was produced yet I noted the clothes being worn have the familiar shapes of those of my life through the 1960s.

‘But it’s the river that captivates the eye, twisting and turning along the valley’, so says the narrator. I would say this was true for the entire 213 or so kilometres of the length of the Derwent River.

 

7 thoughts on “The Derwent River in 1958

  1. Margaret Bain

    Terrific Helen. Thanks.
    I’m currently reading “Truganini journey through the apocalypse ” by Cassandra Pybus. The story is so sad, but the descriptions of the Tasmanian landscapes are compelling.

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    Reply

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