Tag Archives: Bridgewater Causeway

Historic Granton, Tasmania

The northern suburb of Granton on the western shore of the Derwent River adjacent to and extending from the Bridgewater Bridge has significant history in relation to transport and communications across Van Diemens Land/Tasmania. Two heritage buildings, which still stand, are introduced below.

The Black Snake Inn

On stage 8 of my walk along the Derwent River, after I had crossed the Bridgewater Bridge from the eastern shore, I continued south into the start of the suburb of Granton. On that route I soon passed the house in the photo below.

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Located at 650 Main Road, what I was seeing was the building that started life as the Black Snake Inn, apparently Australia’s earliest ferry inn, which was built by the convicts who constructed the Bridgewater Causeway. The Google maps street view of this remarkable building can be seen at https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/650+Main+Rd,+Granton+TAS+7030/@-42.751047,147.229129,3a,52.5y,209h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sTcT1xn5QTiR_rSA4AsFFbg!2e0!4m7!1m4!3m3!1s0xaa6e12713b1bfcbb:0x1a0841b5479abad1!2s650+Main+Rd,+Granton+TAS+7030!3b1!3m1!1s0xaa6e12713b1bfcbb:0x1a0841b5479abad1!6m1!1e1?hl=en

According to http://www.werelate.org/wiki/Person:George_Robinson_%2838%29, Rhode Island born George Robinson erected a new Black Snake Inn on an earlier ferry Inn in 1833 and continued his business at the Black Snake until 1837.  Robinson showed his enterprising ability in a newspaper notice: “MR. G. W. Robinson has this day started a Van with two splendid horses for the immediate accommodation of persons travelling up and down from the Ferries. The Van will leave the Black Snake at half past nine every morning, and leave Hobart Town at 2 o’clock every afternoon…

Charles F Tomkins

Artist Charles F Tomkins (1798-1844) produced a hand coloured lithograph titled The Black Snake Inn and this was published in London by Smith & Elder in 1833 (Reference: http://catalogue.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/item/?id=98999)

According to the http://www.heritage.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahpi/record.pl?RNE10944 record (of March 2015), The Black Snake Inn ‘is significant for its association with Derwent River ferry and road crossings. Until 1836, when the Bridgewater Causeway was completed and before a bridge completed the crossing in 1849, ferry transport was the only means of crossing the Derwent River. It is significant for its initial function as a ferry inn accommodating passengers using the commercial ferry services run by the Inn’s operator. In addition, the Inn is significant for providing accommodation for travellers on the Main Road between Hobart Town and New Norfolk, and those using the Bridgewater Causeway. Between 1819 and 1825 the diary of Reverend “Bobby” Knopwood noted frequent visits to the Black Snake Inn which was often referred to as the “half way” house. Governor Arthur’s Land Commissioners visited the Black Snake Inn in 1826, remarking that its licensee, Presnell, was in the “true Style of a selfish Settler” giving all who passed “all the trouble in his power”. By 1833, the Inn was acquired by George Robinson. By August he had built a “new house’ at Black Snake and advertised the lease for the old inn premises as a possible store. His new Inn was drawn by Louisa Meredith, probably in the mid-1840s and the structure depicted is almost certainly the building known as the Black Snake Inn today, showing the same form. It is possible that a new facade was erected some decades later because the Victorian Rustic Gothic style became more common after the 1840s.’ This website provides extensive additional historical, architectural and social information.

The site http://www.watersideaccommodation.com/downloads/HistoricalSummarytheClaremontAustinsFerryArea04May07.pdf contains an alternative photograph of the building.

I am grateful to Tasmanian collector and historian George Burrows for his reminder to create a posting about the Black Snake Inn.  In addition, he told me… “I am probably one of the few people who have canoed the river from source to Hobart BEFORE the dams were built.”  How remarkable is that!  Very impressive.

The Old Granton Watchhouse

The building, located at the junction of the Brooker Highway, Lyell Highway and the Bridgewater Causeway, was built by convicts in 1838. Extensive information and photographs can be seen at http://ontheconvicttrail.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/old-watch-house-granton.html

The starting point for Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River will be near this Watchhouse.

Crossing the Bridgewater Bridge during the 8th stage of my walk along the Derwent River

This stage of my walk along the Derwent from the mouth of the River on the eastern shore was the most exciting one so far, because I was reaching a significant milestone.  By my reckoning, it marked the end of the easiest part of the walk to the source of the Derwent River at Lake St Clair. Accordingly, and to continue a walk with relative ease for a while, I planned to cross the Bridgewater Bridge and walk south to the mouth of the River on the western shore, then to start tackling the challenging kilometres further north next year.

I was a little surprised how special the day seemed, and so it was an easy decision to cross the Bridge rather than waiting to do so on Stage 9.

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I stepped onto the path on the left of the Bridge at 1.14pm and was off the Bridge and onto the Bridgewater Causeway by 1.20pm. The terrifyingly large fast trucks threatened to suck me off the bridge with their speeding surges next to my shoulder (there was a metal fence separating us but the bridge noise and vehicle speed all combined to make the energy around me vibrate fiercely). I removed my sunhat and held on firmly.

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Except for a small layby, there was no formal walking track beside the Highway on the Causeway, and trying to walk on extremely unsafe and uneven ground beside railings (or none) required extra vigilance.

Looking ahead of the western shore, from the Bridgewater Causeway.

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The persistently noisy and fast traffic (on what must be one of Tasmania’s busiest roads – the Midlands Highway) and the wind pushing across the Causeway from one side of the Derwent River to the other were constants, and I was determined they would not distract me from getting to the western shore. I was not the only one walking across the causeway; two others were following me across.  So, on the sample of three people, I would say 100% of people experience danger walking across the Bridgewater Causeway.  I didn’t take photos of the really dreadful bits – too busy concentrating on where my feet might go.

I did enjoy watching the dozens and dozens of Black Swans, and looking back at part of the suburb of Bridgewater on the eastern shore.

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And towards the western shore:

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I reached Granton on the western shore at 1.35pm and negotiated myself along the road and across old train lines (this would all be easy if there was no or minimal traffic) all the time beginning to move southwards. Three minutes later I reached the sign indicating a left turn off the Brooker Highway towards Granton South and Austins Ferry.

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As I stepped in this direction I recognised a sign marking the start of the City of Glenorchy.

Occasionally I looked back towards the Bridgwater Bridge, across the railway line that was one a lively link between northern and southern Tasmania.

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I followed a rough non-path on the edge of the road until a new sign at 1.45pm indicated I needed to take another left turn towards Granton South and Austins Ferry.

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As I walked around the corner, on the right in the distance I could see a hotel; the York Hotel.

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I felt myself glow with delight in anticipation of making this my stopping point for the walk, enjoying a cold beer and meeting the locals. However, as I got closer, two locals were walking towards the bus stop Number 47 located opposite the Hotel.  They let me know that a bus was expected in the next few minutes. My feet hurt, it would be quite a while before another bus would pass this way, and so I decided to forego the pleasures of the pub and start my bus trip home. The locals led me to believe the publican ‘has done a really good job’ and ‘this is a good pub now’.  So, perhaps with friends in the future, I will venture back here for the missed cold one.

I was on the bus at 1.57pm, reached the Glenorchy Bus Mall at 2.15, and caught the Metro bus 694 via Risdon Vale to the Eastlands Shopping Centre at Rosny when it left around 2.30pm.  Most of all I was surprised how long it took the bus from the York Hotel to Glenorchy – almost 20 minutes. That represents a great deal of walking time so it is difficult for me to guess where I can reach on the next Stage 9 of my walk along the Derwent River. I am guessing that somewhere in the suburb of Claremont might be achievable, but who knows! Finding out is what gives me something to look forward to next week when I tackle Stage 9 of my walk.

Bridgewater Bridge; getting ready to cross it on 8th stage of walk along Derwent River

The Bridgewater Bridge and the attached Bridgewater Causeway crosses the Derwent River upstream approximately 38.5kms from the sea. I crossed from the eastern shore to the western shore last Tuesday near the end of my 8th walking stage along the River.

According to http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/bridgewater-tas, “In the early nineteenth century Bridgewater was a vital link on the north-south route from Hobart to Launceston with one of Tasmania’s earliest buildings and the remarkable achievement of the causeway which helped to cross the Derwent River. The settlement was originally known as Green Point until it became known as Bridgewater simply because it was the bridge (actually a causeway) crossing a shallow section of the waters of the Derwent River.

The first ferry service across the Derwent was established in 1816 by James Austin and his cousin James Earl. It remained vital to travellers journeying from Hobart Town to Launceston until the completion of the causeway. By 1820 Austin and Earl were using a punt capable of transporting 30 cattle, 200 sheep or two carts and 16 oxen. In 1829 construction began on a causeway across the Derwent River. It was 1.3 km long and was built by a gang of 200 convicts using nothing but wheelbarrows, shovels and picks. By the time it was completed the convicts had shifted 2 million tonnes of sand, soil, stones and clay. Defined as secondary punishment for serious recidivists, if the convicts were adjudged to have not done a full day’s work they were placed in solitary confinement in a cell which was only 2 m high and 50 cm square. The causeway was completed in 1836. It did not traverse the river and so a ferry plied the deepest section of Derwent River for twenty years from 1829-49.

In 1849 a bridge across the Derwent was opened. Bridgewater, which had been laid out on the southern shore, was moved (down to the last surveying detail) to the northern bank. The present lift bridge was started in 1939, interrupted by the war, and completed in 1946.”

 From further south, as I walked along the eastern shore, I could see the Bridge. As I walked northwards the length and shape of it came into stronger focus.

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All the photos are taken from the eastern shore side of the Bridge.