Tag Archives: Bridgewater Jerry

22 Aug 2014 Setting out to travel to South Arm – Posting 1 of 8

The first stage of my walk along the Derwent River took me away from home for 7.5 hours. This included walking to the tip of the eastern side of the mouth of the Derwent River in the South Arm area, then gradually plodding northward on the eastern side of the river.  I am exhausted but exhilarated. When I stand on my feet or move around, my body screams ‘sit down, stay still, and never move again!’

My walk started at Bellerive when I jumped on the Metro bus No 640 that departed from Hobart at 8am. The sky was blue and cloudless but I was rugged up and beanied to avoid the early morning chill. I was nervous, and queasily excited. This felt so much like travelling into the unknown when overseas; an unknown destination (years ago Ru took me to a weekend market at South Arm, and prior to that I had driven down and back to Opossum Bay – but I have never spent time in or explored the area), unknown bus stops and reliability of timetables, new maps, unknown people and circumstances, and no idea how long it would take me to cover the stage I had planned.  The return bus was leaving Opossum Bay at 2.02pm and the next one wasn’t leaving until 5.55pm. I wanted to time my walk to catch the earlier rather than the later bus because I knew my feet wouldn’t last long. I calmed myself with the realisation, that unlike the situation with most of my travels, I had a mobile phone and sufficient funds for a taxi if need be.

Nothing I imagined turned out to be.

I had thought there would be no one on the bus because everyone would be heading towards Hobart.  Of course, this was a dopey idea. But I was the only passenger from Lauderdale onwards as the bus sped along the uneven bitumen rattling strongly (these buses are not designed for nonurban areas).

What did I see during the bus trip? Peak hour traffic streaming towards the city. The Bridgewater Jerry steaming down the Derwent to the sea. The early morning sun in the driver’s eyes. Hard winter sun on the new growth on gum trees.  Yellow floral masses on wattle trees.  Dew still sparkling on wet grass. Rare smoke trails from occasional chimneys.  Sheep, horses, llamas, billy goats, olive trees and small house orchards. It was a simply gorgeous day to behold.

The bus route deviated through the back streets of Rokeby, a tiny suburb still 30 kilometres from Opossum Bay. From the upper streets the blue flat glittering expanse of Ralph’s Bay (which is fed by the Derwent River) was stunning.

The Bridgewater Jerry … or is it Gerry?

This morning the Bridgewater Jerry obliterated my view of much of Hobart from the eastern shore. The Derwent River stopped being visible. In the sunshine, its fast moving roll down the river towards the sea was spectacular.

The Bridgewater Jerry moving down the Derwent River with Mount Wellington in the background. Taken from the eastern shore 17 August 2014

The Bridgewater Jerry moving down the Derwent River with Mount Wellington in the background. Taken from the eastern shore 17 August 2014

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The internet offers many sources of further images and information. Examples are listed below (I was surprised to learn the Jerry has its own website, a public sculpture has been created in its honour, and Australia’s premier dictionary contains an entry. That’s not all – have a look at the websites listed below).

http://www.bridgewaterjerry.com/  … The Jerry has its own site showing one glorious photo but with no identifiers, date or other information.

 http://prelive.themercury.com.au/article/2012/07/02/342041_tasmania-news.html … In 2012, the local newspaper The Mercury published a short story with a couple of views when “ ‘Ol Jerry rolled into town”.

 https://www.flickr.com/photos/esereth/9252562361/ … this Flickr site offers a sensational air view of the jerry

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDsVB5Nz3K8 … thanks to Damien Brockie’s time lapse video you can see the movement of the fog down the Derwent river heading towards the sea.


This site shows a scanned copy of a 1946 newspaper article which described the draught as keeping ‘the thermometer at freezing point’. The article pointed out that the township of Bridgewater has been libelled because the fog starts further up the valley. Apparently, at the inland town of Bushy Park the fog is known as the ‘Bushy Park Blizzard’.

 http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2009/05/13/2569108.htm  …..

In May 2009, Carol Raabus wondered where the name ‘Bridgewater Jerry’ came from.  She reflected that “It’s that time of year when the mornings are crisp and you just don’t want to get out of bed. You look out the window and see nothing but a thick fog, blanketing Hobart’s suburbs from the Hobart docks, up to Bridgewater and further up the Derwent Valley. But where did the fog get its name? And should it be spelt ‘Jerry’, or the less common, ‘Gerry’? One theory of the origin of the name is that word ‘jerry’ came from London, where it was thieves’ slang for mist or fog, and the term was transported to Tasmania with the convicts. David James writes in The Companion to Tasmanian History that the first written reference to the fog, although not using the name Jerry and not coming from Bridgewater, was in 1821 when Governor Macquarie wrote he couldn’t leave Austins Ferry for Hobart until 12.30 one day, due to the thick fog.”

 http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/B/Bridgewater%20Jerry.htm ….

David James (2006, Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies) declared “the ‘Bridgewater Jerry’ is a fog which occasionally affects the Bridgewater Hobart area. At night, in cooler months, cold air drains down the mountains of southern Tasmania as katabatic winds and collects in the Derwent Valley. Fog will form if this invading air is moist and cool enough. It drains out of the valley in the mornings, blowing the fog with it. The fog mainly affects the Derwent and the northern and western suburbs of Hobart, but occasionally reaches the Eastern Shore.


The Bridgewater Jerry has an entry in Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary. “A dense, remarkably compact stream of fog which occasionally rolls down the western shore of the Derwent River (presumably from Bridgewater) into parts of Hobart.

  • Contributor’s comments:A front of fog Cold air drainage condensing. Usually ‘Bridgewater gerry’ describing the phenomena on the Derwent River from Bridgewater to Hobart but I have often heard it generalised in southern Tas. Not in any Tas lexicons. Suspect origin is post-WWI Gerry = German and looks like a gas cloud. The effect usually is that a bright clear and crisp Hobart morning swamped by cold fog flowing down the Derwent from Bridgewater: “Did you see the gerry running this morning? I was on the bridge when it hit.” Generalised: “Careful about buying a place in that valley, there might be a right old gerry running down there in the winter.”

  • Contributor’s comments:The Bridgewater Jerry gently rolls its way down the Derwent at the start of a winter day, often shrouding the low-lying riverside suburbs for most of the morning. Those people living in Hobart’s hillside suburbs would often be basking in brilliant warm sunshine before plunging into the dense, wet and cold on their way to work or school.

  • Contributor’s comments:I believe this term comes from the days when the Bridgewater Causeway was being built by the convicts – there was one named “Jerry” who was always smoking a pipe leaving a cloud behind him. Therefore when a fog was seen on the river it was associated with Jerry’s pipe.”

 http://www.arts.tas.gov.au/news_archive/unlikely_icon_celebrated_in_sculpture  … The Bridgewater Jerry, a unique fog that rolls down the Derwent Valley, has been immortalised in a public art project led by artist Tony Woodward.  Unfortunately all the links to an image of the sculpture, its location and other information do not work.  Where is this sculpture?  Does anyone know?