Tag Archives: Bridgewater

The sheen on Shene

No.  The historic Shene property is not reflected in the Derwent River. Nevertheless it shines bright in my memory for the number of stunningly well restored and conserved 19th century sandstone buildings.

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The Shene Estate, located just north of Pontville, covers many acres only a few kilometres inland from Bridgewater which sits on the Derwent River.  A few months ago a brilliant photographer, one of my blog followers, presented a set of images that stopped me in my tracks (pun not intended) – have a look.

When I visited last Friday, one of the owners, Anne Kernke enthralled me with the history of the property. Long term blog readers know that I get excited by many things and where possible I try and make a connection with the Derwent River, simply because I want to write a record.  I was on high alert the moment Anne mentioned the Derwent.  When she said that one of the key family members died near Pearson’s Point which is the location where I suggest the mouth of the river is located on the western shore, I knew I had reason to create a post.

Edward Paine/Payne emigrated to Van Diemens Land in 1820 and his eldest daughter married Gamaliel Butler who established the Shene estate. Unfortunately Edward drowned when travelling in a small boat with others because a boatman went “to the mast-head, which a small boat would not bear”. The boat capsized and it seems Edward could not swim. Anne Kernke has provided the following information: “an ill-fated boat trip to North West Bay, where Paine was looking for land to purchase.[1] The Hobart Town Gazette gave a very detailed account of the day’s tragic events:

It falls to our painful lot to record one of the most distressing and melancholy accidents which has ever occurred in this Settlement. On Saturday afternoon last, Mr. Edward Payne (who arrived recently in the ‘Deveron’), Mr Wickham Whitchurch, Mr James Kay, and Mr George Read, Superintendent of Government carpenters, left the port in a boat with three men to go to North-west Bay. On their way, they put into Tinder-box Bay, about 10 o’clock at night; but not finding the landing good, they determined to go on to the Government huts at North West Bay. When the boat had got about 300 yards, from the shore, the halyards being jammed in the mast-head, one of the boatmen went up to clear them, and in an instant the boat overset. With difficulty, and by the assistance of a Government boat which was in the bay, all were saved but Mr. Payne and Mr. Read. There was scarcely any wind or swell at the time; and this unhappy accident was caused solely by the man going to the mast-head, which a small boat would not bear. Mr. Whitchurch is an expert swimmer, and knowing that Mr. Kay could not swim, laid hold of him, and conveyed him within 50 yards of the shore, but from extreme weakness, was compelled to leave him for his own preservation. Mr Kay, although he never swam before, struggled through a thick bed of sea-kelp in deep water, and made the shore. Mr W. in the meantime floated on his back to recover his strength, until the Government boat came to their help.

Late on Sunday evening, accounts of the melancholy event reached Hobart Town; and upon its general circulation on Monday morning, it occasioned a sensation of feeling and regret proportioned to the estimation in which the unfortunate sufferers were held, and the loss inflicted by their sudden and premature fate. The body of Mr. Payne was found on Sunday, near the place where the boat overset. A Coroner’s Inquest on Tuesday gave a verdict of Drowned by Accident.’[2]

1]Journal of Peter Harrison, 1822, Royal Society of Tasmania, p.40 (typed copy)

[2] Hobart Town Gazette, 13 July 1822, p.2

On the following day, the distraught Mrs Paine was visited by the Reverend Robert Knopwood, who spent the evening trying to console her for her loss. Several days later, Knopwood conducted Paine’s burial service at the Hobart Town Cemetery (now St. David’s Park) on the 6th July 1822. The headstone was removed when the old cemetery was converted to the present day park.”  St David’s Park is in the Salamanca precinct which sits by the Derwent River at the edge of Hobart’s CBD.

Currently, to help support the expensive and meticulous restoration work across the Shene property, the owners provide guided tours by appointment, keep polo horses and will soon have competitions (the Hobart Polo Club now call Shene home and they use the 1851 stables as their clubhouse), they operate a distillery making a filtered and an unfiltered smooth tasting Gin, and much much more. More information can be read on the Shene website.

Settling in, indoors+

Once inside the Gretna Green Hotel, immediately I felt comfortable.  I walked out to a back room, plonked my gear and then hung onto the bar looking eager.

“Would it be possible to have a shower?  I’m happy to pay.  I don’t care if the shower is in the private residential quarters upstairs.  I’ll even clean it afterwards if that will help.  I’d REALLY like a shower.” All said with pleading eyes.  ‘No. Can’t do,” said the barman.  I stared with desperate eyes, waiting for an explanation.  Apparently TasWater, which manages water quality and delivery around Tasmania, has declared the water at Gretna to be so unsafe that no-one should drink it, and the locals deem it so bad that there is a flow on risk with showering and washing your clothes in it.  “Well we all shower in it, but that’s the risk we take”, barman Brad informed me. “But we won’t let you take the risk.” I spoke up. “If you shower in it then I am happy to shower in it and will even sign a slip of paper saying I am accepting the risk against your advice.”  “No can do. Nah. Sorry.  The publicans won’t allow it,” was the barman’s response. He was trying to be helpful and so I saw no point in putting him offside.  After all, my bus back to Hobart wasn’t passing through Gretna for another 7 hours – I reckoned that creating an aggro situation wouldn’t be smart.

“OK. A bottle of water and a cup of black tea please.”  The cup with its tea bag was soon in front of me.  While the hot drink cooled, I sculled the bottle all the time sitting and chatting to friendly and informative Brad.  After the second bottle and second cup of tea, I began to feel refreshed.  I made up my mind to get clean including brushing my teeth (in the offending water) and to change my clothes, so off I went to the toilets and slowly completed the ablutions and the makeover.  When I left the cubicle, I felt like a new person. I was rehydrated within from having imbibed the fluids earlier, and now I knew I looked different. I felt so much more alive. I only had to survive the waiting time until the bus came through. Only 6 hours to go.

Crossing the Derwent River

In stages over more than the past year, I have walked as near to the Derwent River as I can, and each time I see it up close again I am thrilled. Its scale, its colour, and its texture are always different.  The changing effects of the sky on the water’s surface are fleeting, and I love seeing every view.

On Day two, I had left Bushy Park, crossed the Styx River and was now on my way to the Lyell Highway with a despondent resignation that no more close encounters with the River would be possible this day excepting when I crossed the bridge.

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The bridge was long and offered one lane for traffic and no pedestrian path. This is an area where powerful log trucks, various large transports, farm vehicles, massive four wheel drives, and all manner of smaller cars and motorcycles power along the road.  I considered hitching a ride over the bridge with the intention of travelling across in safety. Thankfully the vehicles do not come in a continuous stream, so I looked for a gap in the traffic.

With an ear to the wind, I listened to hear approaching vehicles. In a moment of quiet I made my ‘run’ for it. Friends would know no running was involved. Rather I stepped out purposefully and as quickly as I could, humping my backpack along with me.

Two thirds of the way across I felt indignant. I wanted to have a look at the river but the fact that it was dangerous to be on the bridge unnerved me. Nevertheless, I glanced around and noticed the magnificence of the views up and down the river. As I readied to take a quick photo I could hear an approaching vehicle.  But I stood my ground.  Then I flattened myself against the bridge railing as a monster dual cab ute whizzed past with the driver glaring at me.  I glared back; I hoped my stony look, backgrounded by thoughts of frustration that walkers were not considered in the bridge design, communicated to him.  I know I know I know. Of course it didn’t. I am sure he simply thought my presence was the impediment to his safe progress.

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Before long I was off the bridge crossing the Derwent River and heading eastwards to the Lyell Highway.  Getting down to the water was impossible. In this case it was the tangled Blackberry canes that stood in the way.

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The quest for water to drink

The road narrowed. The road verges reduced in width. The traffic sped past. Vegetation grew rampantly between the road and the Derwent River. The river poured towards the sea. And I walked, occasionally sipping, and wondered what I would see over each new crest or around each corner.  Would I find accessible water?

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A cluster of large rocks and a pull-off area for vehicles alerted me to a new chance to reach water.

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Rayners Corner

At the bottom of the incline, a rocky track was extended into the River with a few rocks – most suitable to fish from. And most suitable from which to fill up a water bottle! This location was on the opposite side of the river from a mapped point known as Rayners Corner (although not showing on Google Maps).

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I sat for a while and soaked in the clean atmosphere.  Looking back down the river I watched the hard glassy flows of the Derwent.

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Then I made a short video scanning the environment.

Marvellous place. Marvellous water.

Leaving Ivanhoe’s cows behind

Day 2 and the vista looked splendid.  Despite my fingers seeming to freeze as I released the tent and repacked my backpack, the sun shone and the landscape sparkled after the evening’s shower of rain – any dust in the air was long gone.

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I hadn’t been walking for long when I could see the next railway bridge down the line. This time the bridge was taking a long haul over the Derwent River.  Again, I wasn’t prepared to play with my life and try to cross it. Instead, I detoured after finding a gate with an easy slip fastener and walked up a soft vehicle track. I saw rich green paddocks everywhere.

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Before long I had walked over the hilltop and could see a couple of houses.

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And then I was following a curving track across the property expecting eventually to return to Glenora Road.

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Not far along, I passed a gigantic pivot irrigation structure.

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The morning was truly marvellous.  The location was magnificent.

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I felt all the happier when a couple of the property owners drove past and waved cheerily. At the time I thought it strange they didn’t stop to talk which is something country people normally do (and, after all, I was on their private land), but when I reached the road I realised they had been having a laugh at my expense.  The gate was padlocked and unclimbable. One fence was electrified and the other barbed.  Fortunately, I was able to make my own way around this obstacle and get to the main road. It was then I could see I had been on the property named Ivanhoe.

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You can see my red gloves on top of the stone fence; by the time I was on the outside of Ivanhoe, I had warmed up and no longer needed them.

The Ivanhoe property is for sale if this interests you and you have over $3.6 million in loose change hanging around.

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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.

Starting out last Thursday

Blog followers know I have waited almost impatiently for Spring weather to arrive; I had been so eager for my walk from New Norfolk to Gretna to be pleasantly memorable.  At home the early morning sun shone and Hobart sparkled.  At 8am the Derwent Valley Link bus departed from the city. I was the only passenger until well into the Northern Suburbs when school kids jumped on and took over – as kids do.  By the time the driver dropped me at New Norfolk central the sky was grey and a stiff cold wind blew. The day seemed as dull as the car park (note the bus shelter in the centre).

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Determined not to be distracted by the weather, I headed off towards the bridge over the Derwent River, past the historic Bush Inn.

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I was ready to follow signs.

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I needed to follow the road which led to the Salmon Ponds (although I expected to bypass this location during my walk), however I deviated to the right so I could stare at the Derwent River from the bridge.  At first I looked down onto the mown lawn where I finished Stage 14 of the walk.

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Then I swung around to look at the river from the inland/western side.

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After retracing my steps I was ready to embark on the next adventure. After turning into Glenora Road (designated as B62) on the southern/western side of the Derwent River, I proceeded past St Brigids Catholic School.

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Between the few suburban houses I caught glimpses of the river and then, within minutes, I was leaving New Norfolk.

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For many kilometres, my view of the river was rationed. Occasionally I spotted the beautiful river through an inaccessible profusion of weeds. Mentally I stripped away the vegetation and loved the changing surfaces of the river and the speed with which it flowed.

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Everywhere I looked was lushly green or silvery blue. I was thankful that the overcast sky allowed the colours to reverberate and seem so much richer.