Tag Archives: Bridgewater Bridge

Recapping the walk along the Derwent River

 

I lived the walk along the Derwent with a vital obsession but, after so many months intensely engaged on other projects, now some of the details are vague. To re-immerse myself into the experience, I am writing this post.

In addition, I suspect it will be a great help to people who have become followers of my blog during the past 6 months.  Despite my inactivity, it surprises me how many visitors and views the blog gets daily, how many different posts are read, and how many different countries around the world are represented.

In August 2014, from an impulsive unplanned idea, I took a bus to a spot near the mouth of the Derwent River on the eastern shore, walked to the sea then retraced my steps and began the walk towards the source of this great river approximately 214kms inland.  On day trips, and around other life commitments, I walked in stages along the eastern shore until I reached the Bridgewater Bridge which crosses the Derwent approximately 43 kms upstream.

Instead of continuing inland, I crossed the bridge and headed back on the western shore towards the southernmost  mouth of the River.  Most of the walks along the eastern and western shores between the sea and the Bridgewater Bridge were along designated pathways, although some informal track walking, road walking and beach walking was required during my trips.

Then I returned to the Bridgewater Bridge and began the journey inland expecting only to walk on the side of the river that made passage easiest.  I had no intention to walk both sides from this point onwards in anticipation the landscape would be inaccessible for a number of reasons or particularly wild with dense and difficult forests. I walked to New Norfolk on the western/southern side of the Derwent but from then on, I switched from side to side. Using maps I determined where I must take up each new stage of a walk while switching from side to side, so that I could say I had traipsed the entire length of the Derwent River.

The farthest inland stages of my walk are easily defined.  I walked from near the township of Tarraleah besides Canal 1 (along which is transported Derwent River water) above the actual River bed, past Clark Dam, and around majestic Lake King William to the township of Derwent Bridge.  From there I followed the river to its source at St Clair Lagoon dam.  In case some people believe the source of the Derwent is further inland, I walked onwards to the weir where the Derwent Basin empties into the St Clair Lagoon via passing the southern end of Lake St Clair.

Between New Norfolk and the area near  Tarraleah, my walk beside the River was in country near  townships (some of which were located at a great distance from the River) such as Bushy Park, Gretna, Hamilton, Ouse, and Wayatinah.  This necessitated additional travel to or from the highway and roads, on which these towns exist, to reach the river or to return home from a walk along the river.

Inland, the water of the Derwent River is controlled by dams constructed to create hydro-electricity for Tasmania: I walked past them all. From the end of the river closest to the mouth, these are the Meadowbank, Cluny, Repulse, Catagunya, Wayatinah, Clark and St Clair Lagoon dams.  Each of these has a bank of water behind them:  Meadowbank Lake, Cluny Lagoon, Lake Repulse, Lake Catagunya, Wayatinah Lagoon, Lake King William and St Clair Lagoon.  Most of these dams and bodies of water has a power station: Meadowbank Power Station, Cluny Power Station, Repulse Power Station, Catagunya Power Station, Wayatinah Power Station and Butlers Gorge Power Station.  I was privileged to be shown around one of these power stations during one walk.

Water from the Derwent passes through two other power stations:  Nieterana mini hydro and the Liapootah Power Station.  I did not follow the trail of these Derwent River managed flows.  The water from other locations inland passes through the Lake Echo Power station and Tungatinah Power Station then flows into the Derwent after power generation, thereby increasing the volume of water flowing downstream.  I did not walk along these feeder rivers.

The few stages of the walks which have not been recorded in this blog, are in all the zone between Gretna and the area near Tarraleah – a stretch of perhaps  120 km.  I have written up and posted most of the walks in this zone, and now it’s time to add the missing sections.

The railway bridge

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When I sighted the railway bridge crossing onto the southern/western side of the Derwent River, I was excited because my maps indicated I had every chance of getting off the main road and beginning to walk in paddocks closer to the river.

I loved the rush of the water close by.

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Then access became a challenge.

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Fortunately, a tiny track existed at the water’s edge and I took advantage of this gap. The sullen grey clouds attempted to dampen my spirits, but the sound of the rushing water reinvigorated me as I walked towards, and then under, the railway bridge.

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No longer was the roar of traffic disturbing my thoughts.  Only the sound of the river, the breezes in the trees, and birdsong caught my ears. I was immensely relieved to be away from the madding crowd.

Another revision: naturally therapeutic images from stages 7-10

I can’t help myself. Having reviewed my favourite images from the first half a dozen stages of my walk along the Derwent River, I felt compelled to continue looking through my collection from the subsequent walks.  I have chosen photos showing aspects of both the natural and man-made world and I believe all will prompt thinking about the Derwent River, Hobart and its suburbs, and the natural environment. My selection of the images with the most memorable impact for me, from stages 7-10, are given below.

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From the eastern shore looking northwards towards the Bowen Bridge, with a couple of black swans on the river.

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Two plaques ‘opened’ by two great Australian prime ministers near the Bowen Bridge.

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The rusting raw-edged remains of a ship, the Otago, at Otago Bay.

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My enjoyment of any family’s black sheep.

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Heading into Old Beach and gradually leaving Mount Wellington behind.

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The gloominess of the approaching storm when I reached Old Beach.

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The pleasures of well-made pathways, thanks to local government.

Green Point from new Old Beach

Looking northward across the Jordon River to Greens Point.

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The glories of native flora. In these instances, it was blooming wattle and a spectacular stand of eucalyptus/gum trees which attracted my attention.

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The remains and the signs of a burnt out car on a back track.

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Knowing that it is still possible to have a laugh when walking.

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Arriving at the Bridgewater Bridge.

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Walking on the western shore of the Derwent River for the first time during this project.

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The house of one of first European settlers, James Austin, at Austins Ferry.

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At Dogshear Point, walking around the Claremont golf course, with the thwacking sound of hit balls crossing the greens.

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Reaching Cadbury’s chocolate manufacturing factory in Claremont.

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The hand-hewn rustic style seat near Connewarre Bay.

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Passing MONA somewhat camouflaged as it nestles into a tiny hill against the Derwent River.

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The mosaics along the foreshore.

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The jumble of boats and boat houses at Prince of Wales Bay.

Hoon tyre marks

Road mark making in Lutana.

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Cornelian Bay’s oil tanks up close.

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The Tasman Bridge.

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The circus had come to town.

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The emptiness of an arena of stands waiting to be filled during wood chopping competitions.

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Reaching the ‘end of the line’ on arrival in Hobart city.

Arriving in Granton for Stage 14 of the walk along the Derwent River

Since walking along the Derwent River in the northern suburbs on the western shore earlier this year, I have revisited MONA at Berriedale on a number of occasions but I have not been further north. So it was a great delight when my X1 Metro bus, which departed from Hobart city at 7.17am, used the old main road after the Glenorchy bus mall to travel through Berriedale, Claremont and Austins Ferry before reaching Granton.  I was able to see the acres of majestic gold and red leafed vines of Moorilla Wines, to observe Cadbury’s chocolate factory puffing plumes of white steam into the crisp blue sky morning, to identify a range of native birds that were using Goulds Lagoon as a safe resting place, and to recognise various bays and other features that I had passed previously.  Everything seemed edged with the early sunlight which glowed strongly through rain washed, impeccably clean air.

I was off the bus at stop 49 on the last of the Brooker Highway at 7.50am.  Looking northwards, the sign made it clear the direction to take was straight ahead. An earlier post introduced the history of the old Granton watch house (search Historic Granton, Tasmania) – that’s the low yellow building on the left in the first photo below, and then the second photo shows the sun-struck front of the building.

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I was aware New Norfolk, over last weekend, had been celebrating the glories of its autumn foliage as indicated by the sign below. The sign served to increase my anticipation of those colourful delights.

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The unmemorable architecture of the Granton Memorial Hall solidly facing the morning sun, seemed very out of place in this beautiful area.

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Equally solid and immediately serviceable was the public toilet block at the edge of the carpark used by many city bus commuters.

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In front of the carpark a sign reminded me of the importance of grape growing in Tasmania – not the least because the wine from our vineyards is very drinkable (as agreed by wine judges from around the world).

Vineyards ahead

My eyes swung across to the roundabout for vehicles travelling north on the Midlands Highway to Launceston via many rural towns. In the distance, the vertical towers of the Bridgewater Bridge marked the Derwent River crossing.  The calmness of the day, and the quality of the light was sublime.

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I hadn’t walked far along the Lyell Highway when I saw the sign below which indicated that 16 kilometres further along the highway I would reach New Norfolk.  But could I trust the sign? Two or so kilometres further back, when I was still bussing on the Brooker Highway, I had seen a sign indicating the distance was 16 kilometres.

Leaving Granton

Not far away another roadside sign alerted motorists (and the occasional pedestrian): Welcome to The Rivers Run Touring Route.

The Rivers Run

Walking on the right hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic and with the Derwent River on my right, I continued into the icy breeze heading towards New Norfolk.  It wasn’t much after 8am when I left the (comparatively) built up area of Granton on the first leg of Stage 14.

Between the bridges: Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River

The achievement yesterday was to walk from the Bridgewater Bridge to the New Norfolk bridge on the western shore of the Derwent River.

I set off from home before the sun was up and I found Hobart was quiet when I arrived at the city bus mall.

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Then I bussed to Granton and alighted from the bus at the intersection with the Bridgewater Bridge causeway.

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From Granton I walked north-west then west towards the inland town of New Norfolk walking mostly along the Lyell Highway and then on a walking track for the last 5 or so kilometres. The morning was freezing and the afternoon warm.  But the sun was out; its hard autumn light made the world seem alive and sparkling. The Derwent River was splendid, often still and reflecting the trees and hills on its surface, under a bright blue sky with the sun shining gloriously.

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I finished my walk at the bridge crossing the Derwent River in New Norfolk.

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During the walk, I covered about 15½km of the length of the Derwent River.  By my reckoning, the total distance of the Derwent River on the western shore from the mouth of the River to New Norfolk is 54¼ km.

My walking distance was approximately 20¼kms.  I have now walked approximately 191¼ kms not counting getting to and from buses, as part of this project to walk along the Derwent River.

The highlights of the walk to New Norfolk were finding the remnants of two clearly visible heritage lime kilns, seeing a family of 6 pelicans, finding the track along the river leading to New Norfolk, and being mesmerised by the spectacular autumn foliage along the walk and especially in New Norfolk.

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I started walking from Granton around 8am and, despite wearing a thick woollen beanie plus a thermal top under my windproof jacket, I was frozen for the first two and a half hours.  It was 8 degrees Celsius at Bellerive when I left home, 6 degrees at Glenorchy and I suspect much less with a wind chill factor along the first part of the walk.  On this basis, I will not be walking further inland until sometime in Spring, and the timing of starting again towards Lake St Clair will depend on the air temperature.

Over the coming week I plan to enjoy writing up the journey and the discoveries of Stage 14’s walk in a series of different postings.

The Lyell Highway between Bridgewater Bridge and New Norfolk

History

In the first couple of decades of the 19th century, when increasingly the small Van Diemens Land colony demanded more roads and better river crossings, the first road from Hobart Town to New Norfolk was built by McCarty under contract to the government. By 1840, the road to New Norfolk had extended to Ouse and Marlborough (Nive River) to serve remote settlers. During the next forty years the road was further extended for tourist purposes to Lake St Clair (Refer http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/R/Roads.htm).

Wikipedia offers the information that the highway did not reach Queenstown until the 1930s and was not properly surfaced for some time after that. In post cards of the 1940s and 1950s it is called the West Coast Road. When Tasmania’s hydro-electric system was expanding and their works were under construction at Tarraleah in the mid-1940s, the highway was re-aligned to follow the Derwent River until it passed Tarraleah to provide better access to the area for construction vehicles.

Lyell Highway on map

2008 details

A 2008 government report (http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/ctee/Joint/Reports/Lyell%20Hway.pdf), which recommended major changes be made to the road between Bridgewater Bridge and New Norfolk in order to create a safer highway, provided lots of information which added to my knowledge about this strip of road and its environment.  I will be looking to see if the recommendations were acted upon when I walk (the temperature plummeted today, and wintry weather yet again made the walking of Stage 14 impossible).

The report explained The Lyell Highway between Granton and New Norfolk is a two lane road with a sealed pavement width that varies in the range of 6.5m to 7.2m wide with unsealed shoulders. The highway follows the southern bank of the Derwent River. The highway is often located at the base of the hillside adjacent to the river flats and as a result has tight curves and sharp crests. The high, steep terrain on the southern side of the highway and deep soft silts on the northern side pose significant design challenges due to cost management and the environmental impact of the proposed works. The abutting land use is rural, dominated by rural residential with some horticulture (vineyards, tomatoes, cherries) and one private recreational facility, the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania (MYCT). The Derwent River is a conservation area. On the southern side of the highway most of the land is hilly, mainly cleared with some trees along the roadside and a few scattered in the paddocks. There are some properties which remain untouched and vegetated by woodland. There are also rows of trees along the side of the road which form windbreaks and/or landscape features.’

Vegetation

According to the same report, the following three vegetation communities of conservation significance occur in the area:

  • Phragmites australis grassland (generally referred to as a common reed): considered vulnerable and inadequately reserved at the state level.
  • Acacia verticillata dry scrub (commonly known as Prickly Moses): of bioregional significance.
  • Leptospermum lanigerum scrub (sometimes named the Woolly Tea Tree): of bioregional significance.

The trees of Potential Cultural Significance along that stretch of the Lyell highway include

  • A stand of white gums between the roadside rest area and the Derwent River at Chain 7760 – 7860.
  • Two weeping willows on the northern side of the highway at Chain 8215 – 8220.
  • A row of old radiata pines on the southern side of the highway at Chain 10250 – 10350.

The following two significant flora species, listed on the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995, occur in the area:

  • Austrostipa scabra (rough spear grass): southern side of the highway Chain 3300 – 3400, 6430 and 6610 – 6640; northern side of the highway at Chain 6940 – 7010.
  • Vittadinia gracilis (woolly new holland daisy): southern side of the highway at Chain 3300 – 3400.

Social history

There are a number of additional features in the immediate area that are considered to have some cultural heritage significance. Project 3 Lime kiln, Chain 3250 – 3540, is located on the northern side of highway. This is currently listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register (THR) (R701)(http://www.heritage.tas.gov.au/thr.html) and hence is subject to the provisions of the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995. There are a number of additional features in the immediate area that are considered to have some cultural heritage significance, such as the Marsh Farm and a redundant section of the old main road.

The Derwent River and its Highways

The south of Tasmania is crossed by trunk roads, regional freight roads and regional access roads, including six of the highways for walking on when walking from the mouth of the Derwent River to the source.

  1. The South Arm Highway which extends from Opossum Bay to where the suburb of Mornington reaches the Tasman Highway. I bussed and/or walked on the South Arm highway during Stages 1-3.

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2.   On the eastern shore of the Derwent from Geilston Bay to Bridgewater Bridge it was the East Derwent Highway which felt the plod of my feet occasionally during stages 5 -8 of my walk.

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3.    Once I reached Bridgewater on Stage 9, the highway crossing the Bridge was the Midland or Midlands Highway (sometimes referred to as the Heritage Highway).

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4.     Some of Stage 12 of my walk on the western shore towards the mouth of the Derwent River, included a couple of kilometres on the Channel Highway.

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5.   At the start of Stage 14 I will walk on the last few metres of the Brooker Highway, the main highway which extends from the centre of Hobart city to the Bridgewater Bridge at Granton. For the first time, at the Bridgewater Bridge, this Highway edges the Derwent River.

6.    Immediately after the highway intersection with the Bridge, the Lyell Highway commences. From Granton until I reach the source, the Derwent River winds closest to the Lyell Highway, the highway which extends west to the town of Queenstown (which is overshadowed by the copper bearing Mount Lyell). This highway will be my life line in terms of accessing public buses.