Tag Archives: Blackmans Bay

The Fall of the Derwent

Early during my walk along Tasmania’s Derwent River from the mouth to the source, I was travelling near Repulse Dam on a reconnaissance trip when I came across two others.  It was a strange experience.  Previously I had become aware that two women planned, with assistance and support from others, and with the direct engagement of specific groups of people in some parts, to walk from the mouth to the source.  That day, as Andrew and I drove around for me to suss the landscape and the walking route options, when I saw two women seeming to do the same, we stopped them and I asked questions.  ‘Yes we are those women’, said Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward.  I am sure they were as surprised as I was.

Since then, Justy and Margaret have made their way alongside various parts of Tasmania’s Derwent River and arrived at Lake St Clair where they were Facebooked taking a dip in those cold waters, seemingly delighted with their arrival.

Their project was very different from mine.  In my case, I wanted to walk around the whole of the Greater Hobart Area, and then to walk every metre of the way to the source at St Clair Lagoon dam.   By contrast, Justy and Margaret walked alongside parts of two Derwent Rivers; Tasmania’s Derwent River and the other in Cumbria England.  The experience of and learnings from their walks were used as part of the basis to write what they describe as a ‘fictionella’; written in the form of text artwork, similar in appearance to poetry.

That book is titled Fall of the Derwent. In this website you can see  range of photographs including two where Justy and Margaret are holding their black covered book.

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The title of the book references a drawing by an early Tasmanian surveyor George Frankland which he named ‘Fall of the Derwent’.  Colonial artist Thomas Bock engraved the image and James Ross printed the picture in The Hobart Town Almanac in 1830. The picture was drawn at a site near unpassable rapids on the Derwent River upriver from New Norfolk.  When Justy and Margaret walked past what they believed was that place, they took a suite of black and white photographs;  half a dozen or so of these images are bound into their book.  Without returning to that area I seem to remember the spot.  After reviewing my photographs in that area, clearly I was looking for serenity and simplicity.  I was looking at colours and contrasts.  It seems I was focusing on one way of seeing that world of the Derwent River, and Justy and Margaret’s view is an alternative.20150917_094036.jpg

20150917_095352.jpgI did not focus on the twisted interlacing of stark and scrappy vegetation at the river edge like Justy and Margaret have done  The differences in our images is a reflection on the different nature of our projects. I wanted to entice others to be seduced by the beauty of the landscape and then to make their own journeys along the river edge (I now wonder why I didn’t see vegetation tangles as beautiful).  When I read their book it seemed they wanted to use their experiences as the basis for creative abstract thoughts; perhaps even a metaphysical approach involving questions such what is there in that world and what is it like at a more profound level.  My approach was literal and descriptive.

The Phillips/Woodward Fall of the Derwent publication presents poetry-styled ideas and comments in ‘chapters’ headed by the days of the week; the book proceeds over  44 days consecutive days – but the ideas associated with both rivers are intermixed.

“Let us begin with two rivers / And a Dad not long for living. / Two daughters …”

Despite the introductory lines, theirs is not a chronological story connecting the sequences of walking the two rivers; reference is made to other locations such as Cape Barren Island, Dover Point, and Brisbane. And the English father walked with Justy and Margaret when they traipsed near the Cumbrian Derwent. As an intertwined overlay in this book, mention is made of his declining health – Dad in pain, no longer able to feed himself, no longer speaking.  For this reason and for the manner of writing which removes easily identifiable meaning through much of the publication, this book has a limited audience and is obviously a set of personal ideas to be understood, remembered and perhaps loved by the authors. For their personal satisfaction. I was surprised that this book uses combinations of words that do not create, for most of the book,  visual images of either of the two rivers. Instead, the poetry reads as a meshing of many experiences which presumably helps Phillips/Woodward to reconstruct a feel of those experiences.

On occasion, where the meaning was clear because I could recognise specific locations, I enjoyed some of the lines. For example, “…rows of hops that string this neck of the river…” referred to the hop vines and their structural strings in the Bushy Park area.  These hop fields obviously made a significant impression on Justy and Margaret because there was a second comment on the same topic; “…the hops in single file march orderly disruption to the valley.”  Then, when they walked around the Wayatinah Power Station, “…the woodstave pipeline is a blistering gland … Draws the corset of her breathing”.  Like Justy and Margaret, I looked in awe at these two locations and their dramatic impact was described during my posts.  To remind you – here are photos of the hop fields and others of the wooden pipeline.   20150918_104145.jpg

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DSC01655e.jpgJusty and Margaret learnt in Cumbria; “On the banks of the River Derwent, that the term ‘black market’ is born. Through the illegal trading of graphite.”  Then they found graphite was part of the geological structure at Wayatinah on Tasmania’s Derwent.  From these findings, grew the idea to play with ‘black’; the book’s cover is black, some copies are cloth bound and impregnated with carbon powder, the Fall of the Derwent and ‘black’ are interconnected within the text, and one section of the book presents a list of locations along Tasmania’s Derwent which include ‘black’ in the name; examples include Black Bob’s Rivulet and Blackmans Bay.

Phillips/Woodward’s book Fall of the Derwent was part of a public artwork presented in association with GASP (Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park) in 2016. Further information can be accessed here. If you click on ‘Download Hydrographic Score’ you will be able to read the book online.

Fossil Cove posting 1 of 4

On the day when I walked from Blackman’s Bay to Point Pearson near Tinderbox, then retraced my steps to catch a return bus from Blackman’s Bay, I omitted to walk via Fossil Cove. The pathway to this secluded rock strewn cove required a detour of over 2 kilometres. Since my day’s walk to the mouth of the Derwent River on the western shore and return was expected to be over 20 kms, I resolved at the time to return on another occasion to walk this section.

I was delighted when I finally ‘discovered’ what locals and others have known for a long while.

A couple of kilometres along Tinderbox Road after leaving suburban Blackmans Bay, Fossil Cove Drive is clearly marked.  Around a kilometre down that road, a sign indicates the way to the beach.

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A further sign declares this area to be a public reserve and a site of national geological significance.

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The steep descent to the Cove was controlled by steps and dirt pathways.

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I was dazzled by views across to Opossum Bay and Gellibrand Point on the eastern shore of the Derwent River.

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Finally I arrived at sea/river level.

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Maps

The Derwent River will always be your guide if you choose to walk along its length, but sometimes it is difficult to walk directly next to the river; for example structures may be built to the edge, steep drop down cliffs may raise you many metres above the water, and gates and fences may make access impossibly impassable.  In addition, when the terrain forces you away from the river, the vegetation may be sufficiently dense so that you can get lost (without map and compass – and GPS if your technology allows).

If you choose to walk the entire length of Tasmania’s Derwent River you might consult one or more of the 17 maps which cover the territory. One value is that you learn the name and shape of landmarks. Have a look at the list below:

Maps

Bear Grylls guidance

Barely a newspaper or magazine doesn’t publish a story about Bear Grylls, so it seemed only reasonable that I find a way to incorporate him into this blog. His is a life of extreme adventures and fighting for survival in tough environments, so a peaceful walk along a placid river seems a long way from his favoured pursuits.  And none are documented.  However, it is Bear Grylls guidelines for daily life which are useful for me to recall even if the going is easy.  Some of these ideas are recorded below.

  • Make the first step – that should empower you to take more steps. ‘There’s great power in just beginning and committing to action, even when you don’t feel like it.’
  • Challenge yourself – ‘I believe we are like grapes and it is only when we are squeezed that we can see what we are really made of.’
  • Try something you’re afraid of – ‘My Dad inspired me not to be afraid to go for things and take a few risks.’ ‘Failure is never failure rather it is a stepping stone to success.’
  • Energise your day – ‘a little fresh air can do the world of good.’ ‘Almost all cities have some great iconic open spaces and parks. Use them.’

After reading this list, hopefully blog readers will be inspired to get out and about. I found another blogger at http://cdeanblog.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/derwent-river-flows-and-present-people.html referenced Bear Grylls when she faced her fears and descended the cliffs into the Blowhole at Blackmans Bay, located a few kilometres short of the mouth of the Derwent River near Hobart.  Good for her!

Through the trees the Derwent River was ever present on my left then later on my right

The Derwent River flowed on my left when I headed southwards to Pearsons Point, and on my right when I returned northwards to Blackmans Bay.

On occasion I could look down the slippery gravel drop offs:

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From time to time, surprised wallabies crashed away through the bush.  I never knew whether I was more surprised than the wallaby.  I watched wild hens roaming cleared paddocks.  I listened to all manner of froggy sounds emanating from dammed creeks. The occasional cyclist, with tyres whispering along the gravelled bitumen, passed me unexpectedly. These road bikes were always ridden by women and we exchanged brief hellos.

A few vineyards under netting were located on hill sides without afternoon sun – what does that do to the flavour of wine?  Okay – all the sommeliers and expert wine tasters out there.  What sort of wine would you expect to be produced in a cool winter and warm summer climate with the grapes mostly only seeing the morning sun in the summer? Google maps show the ‘street view’ of one vineyard at Bellendena: https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Bellendena/@-43.037425,147.335291,3a,75y,13.59h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sGy5X1ubwdRkyt-93Gur9Sw!2e0!4m7!1m4!3m3!1s0xaa6dd119e082ab39:0x68f8df55775fb029!2sTinderbox+Rd+W,+Tinderbox+TAS+7054!3b1!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xce060676af8374e9!6m1!1e1?hl=en I hope you look at this street view and swivel around so you can see the terrain and can appreciate the beautiful country through which I walked.

By ten to ten in the morning I reached “Hidden Cove”, a property which promotes itself as providing a Day Spa and Retreat service: appointments are essential. For a split second I thought I should make a booking for my walk back to Blackmans Bay from Pearsons Point. The idea of a foot massage later in the day was very appealing although I had no idea whether such a service was on offer.  I did take note of the phone number 03 6229 6050 in case I wish to try it out when I return for my walk to Fossil Cove.  Their website makes the business look attractive: http://www.hiddencovedayspa.com.au/

One of the highlights of my walk was seeing casuarina trees ‘weeping’ with the weight of their strands of blooms.  Seemingly so delicate.

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Starting out from Blackmans Bay on Stage 13

Once I was off the bus at Blackmans Bay, the Kookaburras started laughing at me  (again like at the beginning of Stage 12). Ha. Ha. Ha. H.H.H. Ha. Ha. Haa. Was this an omen that I was about to do something foolish? My goal for Stage 13 was to walk to Fossil Cove, and then walk another day for a final stage to the mouth of the Derwent River at Pearson’s Point. If you have already read my posting on the 25 February then you know I reached Pearson’s Point.  Future postings will give more details about this change of mind and destination.

As I turned left from Wells Parade into Hazell St towards the Blackmans Bay Beach, a screech of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos circled overhead. I was on the beach at 7.45am. The water was calm and I looked over the Derwent River towards South Arm beach on the eastern shore.  The Iron Pot lighthouse on the rocky outcrop just offshore from Cape Direction, on the southern tip of the South Arm peninsula, seemed to stand up from the water like a fat thumb.  Back at Blackmans Bay Beach, the fresh sunny morning was complete with power walkers and dogs leading their owners on a walk. Public toilets are located half way along the Blackmans Bay Beach.  These are the last public toilets for anyone walking further south.

How fortunate Tasmanians are to have morning views along beaches such as that at Blackmans Bay.

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I turned southwards and at 7.51am had reached a tiny yellow sign on a post indicating the Suncoast Headlands Walking Track was ahead. A few minutes later I reached the main sign.

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This sign was accompanied by another nearby.

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I followed the good wide dirt track and initially thought how easy it would be for Mums with prams or people in wheelchairs to follow this path. But not so. Not much further along, I needed to climb rough dirt and log stairs and I encountered such interruptions to a smooth walk a number of times.  There were occasional splits in the track without signage, so it is possible to walk a little way off the main track before you realise what is happening.

How gorgeous the morning was.  For example, the photo below is looking back to Blackmans Bay Beach.

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In the photo below, the rocky outcrop at the far end of the beach is where the Blackmans Bay Blowhole is located (my Stage 12 walk there was described in Nudging my way into Blackmans Bay on Stage 12 of my walk along the Derwent River).

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Before my walk along the Derwent River last Tuesday

As my bus from home into Hobart city passed over the Tasman Bridge before 7am, I looked down onto a dozen or so rowing boats slipping along the Derwent River. The wedges that their passing craft made were the only patterns on the still surface of the River.

The morning was suffused with golden light forewarning the rise of the sun over the hills.  The few wisps of cloud in an otherwise blue sky were coloured silvery pink.  The temperature was a brisk 8 degrees, but I felt clean and alive prompted by such a vital looking day.

Once in the city, I walked to Franklin Square ready to wait for the next bus to Blackmans Bay, my starting point for Stage 13. While waiting, I walked through the park and admired the grand symmetrical fountain splashes around a large bronze sculpture of the eminent 19th century Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin.  Overhead, I watched a squawk of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, with their wings lit by the first rays of sunshine, flying as a family.  Street cleaners were clearing rubbish bins and pathway surfaces.  Very few other people were out and about in the centre of the city (people were being active in the suburbs before commuting to work in the city a while later).

The large public chess set had been set out and was ready for play.

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As the sun struck the Treasury buildings at one end of Franklin Square park, clusters of fat seagulls (Silver Gulls) were nipping at early rising insects across the grass lawns.

Metro bus number 84 departed at 7.17am. By 7.33am we had climbed up and travelled along the Southern Outlet and were passing through Kingston. This gave me a clear cut side view of majestic Mount Wellington.  Every rock was hard edge and clear. The air was so clean.

At 7.41am I stepped off the bus at Wells Parade in Blackmans Bay, the location where I had finished Stage 12 of my walk.  The final walk to the mouth of the Derwent River was about to begin.