Tag Archives: Australia

Walking on an industrial site – posting 4 of 5

During the planning phase for this walk on Nyrstar property,  I anticipated that after passing the wetlands treatment area my walk would be finished because, from then on, site buildings and operations sit next to most of the shore. I imagined access to these areas would be impossible for a visitor.

Three times a week, on average, large ships berth nearby ready to load up with the processed Zinc. However it was my lucky day and the wharf was clear.  My host volunteered to take me further if I wished.  Yes please.  It seems that at every turn, on my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River, people have helped and ways have been found to give me access to more of the River than I ever thought possible.  I am so immensely grateful.

Back on a main road we headed towards the wharf, all the while with the river glistening in the strong sunlight and with the shadow of the East Risdon State Reserve ever apparent on the eastern shore.

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20170227_105542.jpgAs we headed west towards the wharf area, Mount Direction on the eastern shore loomed large.

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Before reaching the wharf, we passed a repetitive pattern – one which has nothing to do with the Derwent but which attracted my attention.  Bags. Large bags. Heavy bags. Very well organised. Very tidy.

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Nyrstar is an operation which works hard to recycle by-products of the zinc smelting process and to minimise wastage. In association with other Nyrstar operations elsewhere in Australia, the Hobart site uses these bags in the ongoing process. I was impressed with the commitment of this company to repair the degradation of the environment which occurred in the early years of the ‘zinc works’ albeit under the control of other companies and how every effort is made now to ensure that no further harm is caused (and no – I am not being paid or encouraged to be so positive.  Early blog readers will remember my posting about the independence with which I have made my walk. You can read I pay my own way as I walk along the Derwent River here.

From frozen Siberia to hot central Australia – a major walk that is inspirational

This posting has nothing directly to do with the Derwent River, but the attitude of the walker is one which I applaud. I hope it inspires others to consider walking any river, beach, coastline or any landscape.

For almost three years, an independent woman walked and walked and then walked some more. Sarah Marquis’s story can be read here.

Sarah is reported as saying: ‘I wrote about this because I’m the girl next door, I’m just like every other woman. I wanted to show other women what we can do. I think as Western women we’re lucky to have the freedoms we have but other women don’t have the same freedoms. My trip was about telling women we all need to do something about that.’  Most impressive.  Just another reminder that we can do more than what our friends imagine is possible.

If you want to know more, Sarah has published a book, Wild by Nature. which is available for purchase online as a Kindle and a print copy.

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Aboriginal inclusion

My last post explained how someone or some people made their destructive marks on a culturally significant site. In so doing they were showing disdain and attempting to wipe away part of Tasmania’s aboriginal heritage.  Their act sits in stark contrast to a November 2015 document, which was reported in the media a few weeks before the vandalism, that promoted inclusion rather than exclusion.  Refer The Mercury article of 11 April 2016.

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) produced a report Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia with many recommendations.  These included:  ‘The term “wilderness” should be retained in the property name, while future dual naming is strongly encouraged to reflect both the Aboriginal heritage and the relationship of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community with the property’;’The “Wilderness Zone”, as currently used and interpreted, should be retained in the zonation of the TWWHA, while explicitly providing for Aboriginal access for cultural practices as an integral part of the management of the zone’, and ‘The State Party should support and consolidate the emerging joint management of the TWWHA with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community’.

The vandal or vandals who defaced the rock art are obviously out of step with growing community attitudes of support for aboriginal heritage and understanding of the values inherent in special sites.

Floods and water levels rising

 

When I walked  along bodies of water dammed on the Derwent River such as Lake King William, I remarked on the low water levels, showed photos of deep barren shores, and posted about the coming danger to Tasmania’s electricity supply.  You can refer to a range of posts for different views on this topic including the following examples: Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – where is the water?,  Lake King William, The rocky shore, Looking for a place to camp overnight, Death and Lake King William, Rise and shine, Trackless under the powerlines, and Andrew Hughes has walked, rafted and canoed the Derwent over the past month.

Newspapers recorded some of the extremes; here is one of The Mercury examples.

Hydro Tasmania is the organisation which manages water resources  by selling power not only to Tasmanians but via an undersea link to Victorians and further afield on mainland Australia.  For a very long while Tasmania had an unusually low rainfall, then when the Bass Link failed at the end of last year, this meant Tasmania could not buy power from the mainland if in crisis.  Over half a year passed before the fault was repaired and in that time water levels in dams, lakes and the river dropped steadily. In damage control, as politicians and the community worried about the reducing water levels, Hydro Tasmania released the information that our State could survive and continue to generate sufficient electricity in the local newspaper with dams at an even lower capacity . Nevertheless failure for rains to fall, created a situation where massive banks of diesel power generators were installed.  The operation of these generators cost Tasmania millions of dollars. The photo in this article shows an area being prepared for generators, and then the next article shows the installation outside Catagunya Power Station.  Generators were placed in many locations.  This article shows banks of generators outside the Meadowbank Power Station;  this is the closest power station to Hobart and is one of many that operates using the water from the Derwent River.

The dry situation was desperate.  Cloud Seeding was being practised as an option to bring on the rain.

Eventually the gods or nature heeded the call and the heavens opened.  As winter approached, welcome rain poured and began to replenish our dams and lakes.  The rain was heavy and persisted so that the water levels improved dramatically.  In the process, many parts of Tasmania experienced severe floods.  Dramatic stories were released in the media . The Ouse River, which feeds into the Derwent River, was the site of the death of one man.

These were terrible days for many.

Now the climate seems has returned to some sense of balance.  Our glorious spring time, albeit with some hotter days than normal, has passed and summer has arrived.  We all hope for prudent management of electricity generating water resources and for intelligent planning for extreme events – which we know are now more frequent around the world. In this way, the Derwent River will remain a living and useful flow of water which poses little risk to affecting people, animals and the surrounding landscape.

Has the river of blogs dried up? Is my write up of the walks along the Derwent River over?

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 This wonderful image of ‘Hobart from Mt Wellington’ is the work of Tourism Tasmania and Garry Moore. This free photo has unrestricted copyright.

Has the river of blogs dried up?  Is my write up of the walks along the Derwent River over? The answer to both questions is no.

For a long time, blog followers have received a daily post covering my experiences after I have walked sections of the terrain from the mouth to the source of Tasmania’s Derwent River, plus my additional writings about various aspects of the social and natural history of the Derwent River.  Yesterday and this morning were a rude shock for some Australians – no blog post to absorb over the breakfast cuppas– and for my overseas followers spread across many countries, their regular daily dose arrived at many different times depending on the time zone in which they live.

Have I run out of stories to tell, descriptions to give and photos to show? The answer is a resounding no. I have much more to expose. Please be assured that you have not seen the sights of all the kilometres of the Derwent River, nor heard about all its challenges, in my blog yet.  So why the absence of new posts?

I have committed to another major project which cannot wait any longer for my sustained action. I like huge projects.

Last year I discovered that the first Tyzack in my line (3 different lines came to Australia from England in the 19th century) arrived at Port Melbourne 150 years ago this coming December.  Impulsively I decided (without research or planning just as I conceived the idea to walk the length of the Derwent River) to organise a family gathering later this year for all my great great grandfather’s descendants spread across Australia. Two family members agreed to support me –thankfully one has prepared a family tree. The Tyzack 150th anniversary organisation is now my priority, because there is a book to be put together and published, field trip guides to be developed, and much more – I still haven’t received responses to my introductory letters from most of the over 100 living descendants (almost all whom I have never heard of leave alone know) so I have a big job ahead tracking them down and getting them onside and involved.

This family event is scheduled early in October – so, if not before then, from mid-October onwards I expect to continue writing up the Derwent River walking blog stories.  Probably I won’t be able to restrain myself so that, from time to time, a post may appear.

The photo below taken by Michelle shows the eastern shore mouth of the Derwent River, Cape Direction (on the right) and the Iron Pot islet sits out within Storm Bay.

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Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – where is the water?

My walk started well with the Tassie Link bus depositing me on the Lyell Highway at the junction with Butlers Gorge Road, a very isolated spot.  The day was overcast and sufficiently cool to make for extremely comfortable walking.

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Instead of following Butlers Gorge Road I walked over to Tarraleah Canal number 1 and was stunned.  It contained no running water and green slime was growing at the bottom in sections.

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A question pounded through my brain – where was ‘my’ Derwent River?  I was annoyed.  I was two hours’ drive from Hobart and returning home was not an option. I was here to walk my ‘choice’ of the Derwent River, yet no water flowed.  I humphed and sighed and decided to walk beside the Canal to Clark Dam despite the absence of water, and that would be my story.

Years ago Tasmania decided to sell its clean electricity supplies into the national grid and in tough times to buy in essential electricity supplies.  So an underwater pipe was built beneath Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from mainland Australia.  In recent months the connection has failed, the Bass Link is yet to be repaired and our state has been unable to acquire additional electricity to meet our needs in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile with low water levels in our Hydro Tasmania dams, our local electricity supplies are in danger of being exhausted.  Therefore, when I saw the empty Tarraleah Canal number 1 I jumped to the conclusion that the water from Lake King William had been turned off; I thought this was a sign of our increasingly dire situation.  Later (and in a later post I will explain) I learned I was wrong.  The empty Canal had nothing to do with the Bass Link failure.

I laughed to see the warning sign.

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As later posts will indicate, even when empty this Canal is dangerous and should never be entered.

Sport and the Derwent River

A couple of weeks ago an international Test cricket match between Australia and the West Indies was staged at the Blundstone Arena in Bellerive. Australian cricket tragics (but probably not those from the West Indies) may enjoy these photos. When you stand in the open or sit in the grandstands, fabulous views of the Derwent appear before you and distract.  Cricket Tasmania’s website  shows a glorious aerial shot of the Arena with the Derwent River beyond and mysterious Mount Wellington looming behind the city.

Last Friday night, I was on the Hobart Domain at the Hobart tennis courts. First I watched retired Tasmanian tennis player Richard Fromberg (he reached about number 20 in the world when he was playing on the world circuit) play an up and coming Tasmanian player, Harry Bourchier, who hopes to break into the Australian Open Grand Slam in January.  Fromberg is circled below watching a later match.

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A fun doubles game followed with two 7 year olds (one of which was Cruz Hewitt, Lleyton Hewitt’s son) teaming up with their adult coaches to play a short game.  Those extraordinary 7 year olds stood firmly at the base line and served their balls over the net, despite the net being a great distance off and higher than they were tall. The night finished with ex World number 1 tennis player Lleyton Hewitt playing an exhibition match against Australian Sam Groth who currently has the fastest serve in the world.  In the photo below, Groth wears red at the left of the net and Hewitt wears blacks to the right.

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I was thrilled by the hard and fast hitting.  A good game!

Beforehand I wandered to one end of the main court and looked out through an overcast evening, to the Derwent River.

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On occasions when the sky is clear and blue, the Derwent River sparkles.  Getty Images has one shot I particularly like.  The blue tennis court in the foreground seems separated from the Derwent River by a giant cruise ship at anchor in port.