Tag Archives: Bennetts Wallaby

Tent practice

I have slept in tents but not for many years. Over the past days I realised that I have never camped in a tent without a car nearby, except for my overnighters on the Overland Track (during which I stayed in huts). That is, all my bushwalking experiences have been day walks not requiring the carrying of a tent.

Recently I set out to practice sleeping in my new tent in order to accustom myself to the noises of the night (at home I have double glazed windows so that sleep time is a silent time).  In order to complete my record of all aspects of my trek along the Derwent, I am including this post – but you will recognise a nincompoop in capital letters when you read about my first experience.

Last week I was tired when I put on shoes and socks (trying to be a little authentic), slipped on my headlamp and treked off into the night from my home’s front door. A few metres down the hill into my backyard, where I had pitched my tent earlier in the day, I unzipped the rain-dropped tent fly, fumbled with the tent zip, and quickly fell through the hole created, into the tent. Twisting around, I was immediately sitting comfortably on my borrowed mattress (thanks Ju) all the while slipping around on the new sleeping bag, reaching out and rezipping my tent fly, and untying my shoe laces. Off came the shoes and I was really pleased with the way one side of the tent fly makes a little vestibule. The shoes could sit there on the grass protected from the rain. Pulled in the legs and zipped the tent. It was difficult to keep still; the shiny sleeping bag surface was constantly moving beneath me.

I have an incline for a back yard, not very steep but my block of land is not horizontal.  Earlier in the day I had installed the tent in a place where the trees and bushes wouldn’t scratch past the tent if there was any wind, and where it didn’t seem as steep a slope as elsewhere. Of course I discovered a shiny sleeping bag on a slope is not conducive for continuous sleep. Ridiculously hopeless from the beginning and a good lesson learnt.

Inside the tent I had plenty of room, and was perfectly set up for a good night’s sleep. The sleeping bag was snug and cocoon like. I was wearing a thermal top, socks and fleece trousers but it was too hot in that little tube to wear them all. So I am very happy with the ability of my new sleeping bag to keep me warm overnight.

But whenever I wriggled or turned over, down I slipped heading towards the bottom of the tent. Each downward slide required a new effort from me, inside that zipped up close-fitting cocoon, to lump/hump myself back up towards the top of the tent. Get positioned. Go to sleep. Wake up to find I am turning over in my sleep and heading south. Grunt and groan to get myself back uphill again. Super sleep. Oh oh. Going downhill again. Repeat the manoeuvre. Rest. Contemplate how happily warm I am. Fall deeply and happily asleep.

Waking yet again, I realised the mattress was turning cold. I was very warm inside my nylon tube but where my body touched, a penetrating cold was coming through. Why, I wondered. Was the mattress deflating? No it did not seem to be. Unexplainable but not good. I willed myself to sleep and slipped off yet again into the land of nod.

It was when I awoke around 4am, the mattress was too cold, and I was at the bottom of the tent heading towards a foetal position that I remembered I did have a bed to go to.  Feet into the shoes, out into the drizzle, and then ‘home’. Yes – later I did feel rested. Friends can see a cartoon or two coming out of this ‘adventure’!

This weekend I headed into the country and, thanks to blog follower Ju, I was able to camp on a more rural property out in an apple orchard. Deliberately I set the tent up in an area that is normally considered a possum and wallaby thoroughfare because I wanted to see if the scampering and vocal gymnastics of these native animals would wake or alarm me.

Tasmania is home to 5 species of possum.  The type most commonly found where I camped would have been the Common Brushtail Possum (photo below is from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Brushtail_Possum.htm)

Common Brushtail Possum

Which of Tasmania’s two species of wallaby were grazing around me overnight, I will never know. It could have been either or both the Bennett’s wallaby

Bennetts_Wallaby2

(Photo from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Bennetts_Wallaby.htm) or the Pademelon also known as the Rufous wallaby (Photo from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Tas_Pademelon.htm)

Pademelon

There are no funny stories from my night in the orchard. I slept flat. The mattress didn’t become cold. The animals didn’t wake me.  I slept.  Outside in the morning, a carpet of hard frost covered the land – but I was never cold inside the tent. Apprenticeship over!

A light rain dusted the tent before dismantling, and continued while I packed up. So my only issue now is to find a clever way to dry a tent before repacking when I am out and about on my walks.

Bellerive

Last Friday/Saturday the fourth stage of my walk along the Derwent River finished in Bellerive. Being curious to know a little history of this Hobart suburb’s existence, I discovered it was first settled in the 1820s after years of people ferrying across the Derwent River from Hobart Town. Its first name was Kangaroo Point.  No prizes for guessing why.  Apparently the area abounded with native kangaroos (and/or perhaps the prolific Bennetts Wallaby which is often referred to as a kangaroo).

The name changed from Kangaroo Point to Bellerive around 1830, using the French language as inspiration: bel = ‘beautiful’ + rive = ‘bank’.

However, its original name seems to have been retained in common usage, because two eminent artists of the 19th century produced art work located from Kangaroo Point. The renowned English artist John Glover painted Mount Wellington and Hobart Town from Kangaroo Point in 1834, and the Austrian artist Eugene von Guerard, who was active in Australia in the middle of the 19th century, created a colour lithograph Hobart Town, from Kangaroo Point, Tasmania in the late 1860s.

The Glover painting is at home in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart.  This picture interests me because some of the original indigenous land owners, the Moomairremener people, have been depicted on the banks of Kangaroo Point, and there is very little sign of the ‘civilisation’ of Hobart Town on the other side of the Derwent River.  By contrast, 30 odd years later von Guerard’s print shows considerable build-up of Hobart Town beneath a snow capped Mount Wellington.

John Glover- from Kangaroo Point towards Mt W and Hbt Town

The von Guerard lithograph is at home in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

Von Guerard Hbt Town from Kangaroo Point

These days, Bellerive is a suburb of the Greater Hobart Area completely covered with streets and houses of every vintage. With its easy access to excellent sandy beaches, a vibrant village shopping centre, the regular presentation of fantastic free public festivals, and safe marina, Bellerive is a great place to live or visit.