Tag Archives: cattle

Walking across farmland – posting 2 of 2

The land was parched and massive equipment used water pumped from the Derwent River to spray irrigate crops and keep the red earth moist.


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The day was exceptionally hot so, when I approached the expansive circulating spray of water on one farm, I was strongly tempted to stand and be drenched. However I decided not to drown my precious tablet that I use to take photos.  Instead I continued onwards – hot and bothered.

Before long, I entered through a side fence into a large paddock with a herd of cattle grazing in a far distance corner. They looked up. They watched me.  Curious.  I headed back down the fence line towards the water’s edge.  When I checked behind me I noted some were now beginning to amble in my direction.


From experience I find there are two types of cattle – those who know people and associate people with extra food, and those who roam comparatively wildly and seldom see people.  The former want to check you out and the latter run away even when they see you 100 metres or more away.  I prefer the cattle who head off elsewhere to find their food. A large herd of cattle coming for me gives me no comfort even though I love the look of their soft eyes and noses and lips. I know they will not deliberately hurt me but I have images of their tonnes of weight accidentally standing on my feet, and I don’t like the foreseeable consequences.

I continued walking, reached the River and kept moving forward along the edge.  I noted that all the cows were coming now and closing the distance. I could not see the ‘protection’ of the ends of the paddock and its fences.  I was hot and getting hotter despite keeping up the fluids.  As I approached a point offering wonderfully easy access to the River, I thought about jumping in or at least loading my hat with water to cool down.

Where the cattle drink

But I looked around, realised the cattle were so close that I could eyeball the advance party, and knew I had to keep walking.  When I looked down at the ground I could see every vintage of cow pats all around.  It came to me. This was the cows drinking point.  With luck they would be thirsty and forget about me.

I continued on, and true to my expectations, most headed down to the River for a drink. Other stood and looked at me uncertain whether to follow or refresh themselves.  The few that followed slowed their progress to nibble on grass – that long walk had sapped their energy!

Walking between Gretna and Lake Repulse Dam – 2 of 3

Fences and gates

Avid readers of this blog know that locked and impassable gates, and barbed wire and electric fences have stymied my progress in recent walks. As I expected, these exist not only on the perimeters of properties but also throughout.


Therefore, my recent walks involved a great deal of walking away from the River in search of a way to continue; looking for a way to access the next paddock. I always hope for uninterrupted access to the river edge, but experience shows that hill climbing must be part of the process.  This means a simple 5 km section of the River might take 8 km of walking.  Being forever positive, I am glad for the expansive views of the River when I am up high.  But I am not in love with clambering up hills. Despite the deviations, I negotiated dozens of fences/gates.

The land

Farmers tell me that normally the land dries out in around six weeks’ time. However this year, the non-irrigated paddocks are parched.  The ‘soil’ of some land is sand and rock making me wonder whether it has been so for millennia or is only now tending towards a desert.  In other places, large fissures have cracked open the ground.

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Elsewhere, I saw evidence of large bushfires that probably rushed through the bush three or so years ago. New growth surrounded blackened trunks.


Negotiating paddocks with livestock

Sheep and cattle wander through large paddocks on either side of the River in much of this area.

I do my best not to enter a paddock with livestock and always try to find alternative routes.  The result is grand deviations from the ‘straight line’ of walking the Derwent.

Cattle are curious or expect food and with their big bodies swaying they tend to walk towards you. Then at a point when I begin to feel most uncomfortable, skittishly they run off.  On the other hand, sheep stand and stare until alarmed. Then they run off, bleating madly.

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I don’t believe it is useful to raise either their or my stress levels.  At this time of the year when lots of mothers and their calves or lambs abound, the last thing I want to do is stress these creatures.

Occasionally, I have shared a paddock with either cattle or sheep. When in a paddock with the animals, I have done my best to walk in such a way that they move slowly away rather than charging off manically.  However, when I saw rams staring at me from under their sharp curly horns, I saw no point in confrontation, and took an alternative route – which in this particular circumstance required me to descend a very very steep hill, knowing I would have to climb back up further along. And I don’t like hills.




Commercial and feed crops cover some of the land. I am not a farmer but I think the following photo shows wheat. Can anyone advise me?


I feel sure this is barley below but am I correct?


And I know the photo below shows oats.  I once had bales of oat straw brought to mulch my garden. Ever since, wild oats have sprouted and I have come to love their lacy heads.


I have no idea what I was looking at when I came across this irrigated crop – can anyone identify the vegetation below?



Watch out! Cows crossing

After Rayners Corner, I walked back along Glenora Road because I could not access the property separating me from the Derwent River. The tall dry teasels made a barrier on the left of the road.


When I registered the sound of a motor cycle and a quad bike on the hill, I watched two farmers sweeping down as they herded cattle towards the fence next to the road.


Within moments the bike was on the road ready to halt traffic.


And then the cows were out.  Their job was simply to walk from one paddock to another across the road.


But along the road barrelled a speeding car which skittered the cattle so they began to run towards Bushy Park.  The car stopped short. The farmers glared. I stood still knowing if I kept walking in that direction the cows would be spooked further.


Eventually the cattle found their paddock.

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I continued walking along. Then I turned and talked with Mrs farmer while Mr farmer locked gates.  When he joined the conversation he assured me that while the cattle had a mind of their own, sheep were the particular challenge he particularly did not like when it was time to take them over a busy road.  His sheep could never be trusted to know they should not run off.

Woolly long horned cattle

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I have never seen cattle with these characteristics before. They were large, curious and looked unkempt on account of their shaggy coat. But so strong and healthy.

I suspected they might be some sort of Scottish highland breed. The example photographed on this site seems to be similar to what I saw.  Then I discovered the existence of a Tasmanian Highlanders Breed Association. Their website declares ‘Highland Cattle thrive in Tasmania’s changeable climate, they love the cold winters and lose their long woolly coats to enjoy out hot summer.

I think I can, I think I can

As I left Cluan and continued on, I recalled the child’s story of The Little Engine that Could. I was the little train on the old rotting tracks. Walking on the sleepers. Walking between the sleepers. That was my routine for the rest of the day.  I thought I could keep going. I know I can I know I can I know I can – was the regular thought that powered me over the irregular surfaces which required total vigilance to prevent a twisted or broken ankle.

In the photos below, the Derwent River is located over the paddocks near the row of trees, and inaccessible.

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Gradually, as the line took me higher and higher, my views of the Derwent River were clearer.


The sun came out and I watched worried cows racing away from me. Beautiful healthy black cattle in contrast to lush lime-green grass.

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With a rainstorm approaching, finding a suitable camping spot suddenly became very important.


Obviously my dream to camp near the river could not happen. So I settled near a couple of wattle trees, next to the railway line across from the paddock with the cows.  Surprisingly, the ground was soft dust. I cannot explain in this wet green landscape why the soil where I was pitching my tent would be almost bone dry but I am grateful because the tent pegs slipped in easily and strangely stayed firm.  Magic in the Derwent Valley.

As I opened my backpack, drops of rain were being winded my way with force. Blog followers may remember my tent weighs only a few grams over 1 kilogram.  Trust me; its lightness was not a benefit in that atmosphere. Firstly, I laid the tent out and weighted it to the ground. The next process was to unfold the structural rods and insert them into the tent to create the shape.  But the wind twisted and threw me and the rods at all angles. The cows talked. I said some choice words.

Exasperated and flustered the pieces eventually fitted and stayed together. I withdrew the fly from its sack and out it flew like a large lime green cape.  Into the wattle trees.  Out of the wattle trees. Attached to the tent at one corner. Over me. Off me. Start again. Onto the railway line. More choice words from all the animals. Once the fly was attached to two points, while it was a scramble to attach it at the third point, I was winning. And then the tent and fly were up, taut, holding their own against the wind.  No wine to celebrate. Now there was an oversight!

Thanks to the tent vestibule I was able to cook my dinner with wind protection. Then I settled back, read a little, before dozing and sleeping all night.  Loved it when a toilet break was required under the stars. I smiled to see the velvety black silhouettes of the cows lined up along the fence line, no longer afraid of me.  It was quite wonderful being out in the fresh clean country air and I was immensely pleased that I had persevered through the day and arrived at this magical spot.

Walking the Back Roads

My upstate New Yorker blog follower (https://deescribesblog.wordpress.com/about) who came to Tasmania recently and walked with me along GASP to MONA, alerted me to the blogsite (https://walkingbackroads.wordpress.com/about/) re “Walking the Back Roads: A Hundred Years from Philadelphia to New Hampshire“.   She recognised my broad interest in people who decide to walk paths that are not normally walked. Thank you.  I love followers alerting me to such sites.

The walking the backroads blogsite has been inspired by a range of different books written by walkers of the highways and backroads of America through the 19th century. The blogger examines their stories.  He refers to the walk which he undertakes as ‘the long walk home’. Very interesting.

The concept of walking on backroads is instantly appealing to me. I wonder how many backroads exist which connect with Tasmania’s Derwent River in some way. I guess there may be hundreds and that they would all lead to interesting, mostly remote places. I imagine our backroads would peter out into bushland where sheep or cattle graze, rabbits multiply, indigenous wombats might run, Tasmanian devils fight for scraps of native food, or wallabies roam.

Suddenly the question comes to me; what is the definition of a backroad? When is a road no longer a main road? Is it a matter of how many people live along its edges?  Is it a matter of how many vehicles use it? Is it a matter of the road being unknown to the majority of the surrounding population? Is it possible to have a backroad in city areas or can they only be found in rural areas? Or are backroads, roads which are out of the way, difficult to find, and often not on maps?  And does a vehicular unsealed track count as a backroad?

In other words, how would I know if I was on a backroad? Is it sufficient that I make the decision?  Guess it would be. And I guess the locals may not refer to their road as a backroad even when I might.

Stage 3 One starting point for a Derwent River walk to Trywork Point 20 September 2014 Posting 4 of 6

If you choose to walk to Trywork Point, I recommend one starting point could be the pathway down from Vaughan Court (which runs off Oceana Drive to the right), and turn left at the bottom onto a grassy walking track. If my experience is a guide, you are likely to meet happy dogs and their owners enjoying a stroll along this route.

If you choose this route, I think you should allow at least 2 hours for a one way journey that has nil or minimal walking on the cattle tracks on private land.

This walk is not for everyone.

It requires specific equipment (supported walking boots) and a reasonable level of fitness, a tallish size and common sense. There are a number of dangers to be considered; the chance of rolling or spraining an ankle on the rolling rocks, the chance of injury on the slippery slopes where the needles from the Casuarina trees form a moving mat on the ground, and the surprising number of pieces of rusty fencing wire that pop up unexpectedly. In addition, if the herd of cattle was in the vicinity where you might be trying to edge along a cattle track, there might be some associated dangers. But above all, you are skirting around private land and that needs serious consideration.  If you are not very tall, you may find some of the rock climbing to be unsafe and perhaps impossible.

This walk is for the few.