Category Archives: Walking

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

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.

From Catagunya to Wayatinah – post 4 of 4

I took a series of forest photos most of which are blurred. I am adding some here to give you an idea of what parts looked like – sorry about the quality.

20170424_113247.jpg

20170424_111909.jpgThen the white shape of the Wayatinah Power Station appeared between the tree trunks.

20170424_114138.jpg

20170424_113538.jpg

The closer I came to the Wayatinah Power Station the steeper the hills seemed. For vehicles travelling down the road, the final gradient requires a low gear in a 4WD. The drizzle on a day like the one on which I went, meant the clay and soil track surface was exceptionally slippery and dangerous for the inexperienced or inept.

Then I was out in the open again. This time looking down to Lake Catagunya past the Wayatinah Power Station.

20170424_114211.jpg

To my right, additional infrastructure punctured the sky.

20170424_114227.jpg

20170424_114340.jpg

Further up the hill and connecting to the huge surge tank, the snaking length of wooden penstocks started.  See my earlier post for more information about wooden penstocks here. Can you remember the wonderful photos which Andrew took in this blog posting?  My photos are less detailed but still show the dramatic line of the penstocks.

20170424_114338.jpg

20170424_114345.jpg

20170424_114515.jpg

I ended the day with a thick coating of mud on my boots and a smile on my face. Yet another day offering me a memorable experience along the Derwent River. I am especially grateful for the extensive information and access provided by GL. Please note that private and corporate owners control access to this section of the Derwent River and the many gates are locked with an assortment of sophisticated processes. General public access is not available.

From Catagunya to Wayatinah – post 3 of 4

 

I followed a road aiming to intersect with the transmission lines ready to follow that towards Wayatinah to the extent it would be possible.  Massive heavily forested gullies made continued close access to Lake Catagunya (full of Derwent River water) impossible.

20170424_110654.jpg

Even the cleared area wasn’t clear enough for anyone to walk through on foot, although it was sufficiently clear to keep the power lines unaffected.

20170424_110907.jpg

When I stood on high, misty wisps reshaped distant hills and threatened to obliterate views of Lake Catagunya. Fortunately I could always see its glistening surface way below.

20170424_111136.jpg

20170424_111350.jpg

On top of the second last hill before reaching Wayatinah Power Station, the western end of Lake Catagunya appeared through the clouds.

20170424_111533.jpg

Before long the metal pipeline streaming water into the Wayatinah Power Station became visible.

pipelinewpscropped.JPG

Often the bush was amazingly quiet. This film  seems to be without sound. Only near the end can the faint crarking of a crow be heard.  This bush silence was an unexpected beauty of my day from Catagunya to Wayatinah.

From Catagunya to Wayatinah – post 2 of 4

Since Andrew had walked this way, much rain had fallen so that any chance of crossing Black Bob’s Rivulet somewhere near where he walked was zero.

20170424_105020.jpg

I continued back to the old Cooma property through more locked gates.

cropped Cooma.JPG

The owners were in the distance checking on some of their animals. Incredibly healthy cattle wandered around the unfenced land. Big curious fellows.  Superb condition. Beautiful black coats. Brown coats. Mixed colours.  As usual I talked to the animals.

20170424_102825 cropped.jpg

20170424_102856.jpg

cropped cows.JPG

Elsewhere, I watched a large family of yellow tailed Black Cockatoos raucously calling from tree to tree.  On another occasion a rush of coloured parrots whipped through the bush with astounding speed.

A large number of gravel roads and tracks meander over the hills between Catagunya and Wayatinah. Many do not appear on maps. Without a compass a walker could spend hours taking useless tracks – apparently people have been known to become so disoriented they find themselves way north of the river and after many kilometres back on the Lyell Highway.  In part, the tracks were created to service plantation forests  grown after original native forests were cleared and burnt.  The other user is TasNetworks, the State company which travels around to access the electrical power transmission towers and to check the levels of vegetation  along the transmission lines.

Since massive bush fires many years ago in one part of the area between Catagunya and Wayatinah, the remnants of hundreds of hectares of pine plantations have created a problem for the forestry industry. The small remaining stands of living trees are awkward to reach and not profitable to harvest.  Much of the land is covered by burnt parts of trees none of which can be used.  The cost to clear seems too high. Lost money. Lost opportunity. And lost original native forests. Nature always attempts to reclaim its place however in practice this means that those plants which breed well and grow quickly can create monocultures no less damaging than the single species plantation forests . In parts along the burnt out section, native plants that act like weeds such as some wattles are already taking over.  Monocultures do not a forest make.