Author Archives: Tasmanian traveller

About Tasmanian traveller

Through travel, I have experienced the eccentricities of people and their environments around the world. At the same time, I love where I live. So, for people who cannot travel to discover the wonders of my home town, this blog is an attempt to introduce its exoticness. My goal was to walk along both sides of Hobart's Derwent River from the mouth to New Norfolk, and to walk on one or alternating sides of the River between New Norfolk and the source of the River at the southern end of Lake St Clair. The walk was undertaken in stages around my other commitments of my life. Almost all stages of the walk connected with Tasmanian public transport - my intentions was to inspire people, who do not have access to a vehicle, to feel they can replicate the walks. This blog reports on each stage in the hope it will encourage people to either follow in my steps or to create their own walking project where-ever they live. Please note: The blog background and headliner image of 'Hobart from Mt Wellington' is the work of Tourism Tasmania and Garry Moore. It is a free image with unrestricted copyright and available from http://www.tassietrade.com.au/visual_library

Reason for travel

Below I have included an excerpt from the most recent publication of Tasmanian-based internationally renowned author Robert Dessaix:  The Pleasures of Leisure.  In the last pages of the book, when Robert was discussing travel and its connection to leisure, I realised he was expressing my reasons for the Walking the Derwent project as he talked about his view of travel destinations which satisfy.

 As far as I’m concerned, for a place to be worth going to, three things must dovetail: firstly, it will be somewhere behind enemy lines because that puts you on your mettle – so Canada is out; going to Canada is just like staying home, but colder. Canada is nice.  Canadians are nice.  You don’t want ‘nice’ when you travel. The god of travel, after all, is Hermes – god of boundaries and boundary crossings, of transition and transgression, constantly darting in and out of enemy territory.  In a word, he’s the god of changing places. I doubt Hermes could even spell ‘Canada’.

Uganda, on the other hand, is definitely behind enemy lines, as is Cuba  (so far as I’m concerned), but neither of them strongly tempts  me as a destination because I doubt I’d find myself interesting there.  It’s not a judgement on Uganda or Cuba, but on the match. It’s like a conversation, really, any conversation that leaves you feeling elated: you want to be part of it so long as it makes you feel larger, richer and more interesting than you’ve felt up to now, so long as it magnifies something you cherish, so long as it makes what could feel unremarkable (about you or the universe) remarkable, as someone you love does.  To be remarkable in itself – as the Taj Mahal is, or Machu Pichu, or Angkor Wat – is not enough. It must make everything that has been ordinary about you now feel extraordinary. That’s the second criterion in where to go.

And the third thing I look for when I travel well is hunger: where you go should leave you feeling slightly hungry, should sharpen your appetite for life, not quench it.

To walk against the Derwent River from the mouth to the source took me onto land that belonged to others and into and through forested landscapes which were never designed with the expectation that humans might roam the earth. I never thought of landowners, their fences and gates, or the bush as enemies, but their expectations and nature kept me  ‘on my mettle’. Despite working hard on each stage, my walks left me ‘feeling elated’ and ‘larger, richer and more interesting than’ I had felt up to that point.  After the adventures of each walking stage along the Derwent, I felt more alive and even more excited to go on living, and to travel more for new experiences.  Dessaix’s exposition helps me to understand why I have not felt the need to travel overseas. The Derwent River and the Tarkine locations are close to home yet they offer the three essential ingredients: they put me on my mettle, make me feel richer and more interesting, and stimulate my hunger for more.

Robert Dessaix offers a myriad of wonderful ideas in his book. I recommend you add it to your reading list. This insightful book is so wonderfully easy to read and offered me a great deal of pleasure  on every page.

The Pleasures of Leisure.jpg

More silvery views of the Derwent

Another of my favourite local bloggers No Visible Means has, in recent months, taken new photographs and some of these show the Derwent River. Soft, wispy and silver.

In particular look at his blog post titled Autumn for photos from Mt Knocklofty and Mt Stuart looking down to the silver ribbon.  Other wonderful blue Derwent River photos are also on display in this blog post.

The mouth of the Derwent from a long way off

Over the weekend one of my favourite bloggers This Amazing Planet published an image from his latest foray into Tasmania’s south.  The location of his ‘viewing platform’ is indicated on the following Google map.

Hartz to Hobart.JPG

The post, titled View from Hartz Peak thru to the mouth of the Derwent River. Southern Tasmania , describes the scene accurately.

 I am in awe of Mark’s walk up to the top of Hartz Peak clambering over snow covered rocks and unreadable depressions in the ground.  But I am so very grateful to see this photograph.  Sensational.  It presents the Derwent River as a soft silvery ribbon.  Beautiful!

Rivers of music

Mark Miles wrote a wonderful post The Music of a River that Flows through the Soul.  This post is informative and reminds me of the emotional connection that sounds make – the sounds of waters and the sounds of instruments.

When I walked along some sections of the Derwent River, I sang loudly and with great joy as a result of the emotional uplift which the river environment offered, and because I had the privilege of being able to walk freely.

It is easy for me to understand the motivations of musical composers over the centuries, and to love their work.  Only now do I recall that the music played as I walked down the church aisle to be married, was Handel’s Water Music.  Only now do I recall that one of Mum’s favourite vinyl LP was Strauss waltzes, with the Blue Danube Waltz ever present on the turntable.  As I sit here and type, a flood of memories of water and music connections throughout my life thrill me.  Were these happy memories the result of my being born in late February- Piscean territory?

Reading past Walking the Derwent posts

The local Friends of Australian Writers (FAW) group has invited me to be one of two guest readers on Sunday 2 July at 3pm at the Republic Hotel (corner of Elizabeth and Burnett Streets) in North Hobart.

I will be reading a selection of posts from my ‘Walking the Derwent’ blog, for about 20 minutes.

If you have missed your regular dose of the Derwent story or simply want to catch up for a drink perhaps you would like to come.  I will be especially interested to meet followers of  this blog who have generously made comments, and offered information and help during my walk; those who I have never met.

Hobart and the Derwent River from above

Recently, as I delved into the National Library of Australia’s online digitalised newspapers for family research purposes, I stumbled across the following image.

The newspaper was the now defunct The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil produced in Melbourne Victoria between 1873 and 1889.  The image below was published in the Saturday issue of 17 April 1875.

Taken from the vantage point of Mount Wellington we are looking down onto the dots of a growing Hobart city, across the Derwent River to the eastern shore which is as yet unsettled in any dense sort of way.  As usual, the River is the star!

River Derwent from top of Mt W17041875.JPG

Not for human consumption

Today’s ABC News Online gives us the headline suggesting an exciting story – “Amateur dive photographer shares snaps of Hobart’s hidden underwater world”.

We are told “Under the surface of the River Derwent you’ll find an otherwise hidden and surprising colourful world of marine creatures.” Accompanying the story are photos of divers and underwater creatures.  Quite startling is the beauty of what divers can see. Wonderful.  The gorgeous photo of a crayfish by Millie Banner attracted my attention – who doesn’t love eating a crayfish. However, “… heavy metal levels in the river make them not safe to eat.”  So please do not go down deep seeking a feed from the waters under the Tasman Bridge.  Besides the river currents might sweep you out to sea.  Maybe.