For people with lives normally immersed in the big cities of the world, travelling this route to Opossum Bay will be full of surprises.
Hobart is a capital city yet, after not many minutes of travelling, the bus passes through bush land from time to time, before coming out into clusters of developing real estate. Springing up around many corners, the landscape is meshed with strips of dark bitumen. These cul de sacs and neighbourhood streets are usually featured with white concrete lengths of soon-to-be driveways into soon-to-be built houses on blocks cleared of all vegetation. These new suburbs represent the interest in having and the will to live in your own home – even if it means a 20 minute or so travel time to the city. We know that by the standards of other capital cities around Australia and the world that such travel times are but a blink of time. The easy accessibility to the centre of the city is a great reason to live in suburban Hobart.
As usual the bus travelled through the suburb of Rokeby. I was eager for another view of Ralph’s Bay remembering its sparkling crisp deep blue expanse when I travelled this way for Stage 1 of the walk. This time the colours were different however, despite the sun shining. Perhaps it was the high level wispy cirrus clouds that filtered the light and affected the colour of Ralph’s Bay on this journey. This time, when travelling the streets at the top of Rokeby, the spread of water was coloured a warmer tone of greys and pale greens. The Bay looked benign and neutral, and was all together welcoming. Further on in the journey, I passed the mud flats at the Lauderdale site of the Bay. The tide was in further than previously and covered most of the mud. I couldn’t help but think how time makes small differences in our world – it is only two weeks since I was travelling here on route for the first walk and, at that time, acres of mud flats were on show.
What else did I see during this bus trip? Glossy dew on lawns. White blossom on fruit trees. Pink blossom. A well-painted graffiti wall, following a colourful display of clever mosaics in the suburb Clarendon Vale. Road signs with the symbol of a horse with rider warning of the additional ‘traffic’ which the road might share. Paddocks with grazing horses. Horseboxes. White fences. As the bus started on the road across the isthmus to the South Arm peninsula one sign with a stylised image of a Pied Oyster Catcher bird indicated travellers should be aware that these birds may want to walk across the road from time to time. Later, on the return to Hobart journey, I noted perhaps 50 Black Oyster Catcher birds resting as a large family, on the sandy edge of Ralph’s Bay near the sign. They were not in the least put out by the rattling of the passing bus.
Tomorrow, Thursday 4 September, I plan to walk a second stage of my foot journey along the eastern shore of the Derwent river. As with the first leg, I need to take Bus 640 that departs from the Hobart city bus mall at 8am and heads towards Opossum Bay. I will jump on the bus once it reaches the eastern shore and, as before, I know I must be patient because it will weave through the suburbs of Rokeby and Clarendon Vale before passing Lauderdale, Sandford and South Arm (details of these great locations are in the earlier postings related to the first stage of the walk). My bus destination is the Opossum Bay Shop. From there I will walk north to Gellibrand Point via beaches, roads and open landscape. I hope to be able to enjoy my pre-packed lunch sitting looking towards Mount Wellington before returning to the Driftwood Drive bus stop for my journey back towards Hobart. The morning low temperature is expected to be around 9 degrees when I arrive and rise to about 14 degrees around 1pm. The return bus leaves Opossum Bay at 2.02 so I hope it doesn’t rain before then. Keeping my fingers crossed!
After leaving Rokeby, we weren’t back on the main road long before the bus deviated again; this time through the suburb of Clarendon Vale. There is a significant building here. As some sort of counterpoint to the modern Catholic Church next to the John Paul II Catholic School, down the road before reaching the main road you can see a heritage quality, beautiful old sandstone church. This is St Matthews Anglican Church which comes with a reasonable size cemetery full of ancient headstones. Would be worth a stop-over on a future excursion.
Here’s some additional information to whet your appetite.
From http://members.optusnet.com.au/~tacplaci/rokeby.html#r13, “The first service in the area was conducted by the Chaplain of Van Diemen’s Land, the Reverend Robert Knopwood in 1821, and he agitated for a Church for many years. Whilst the first burial, that of Catherine Chipman, took place in 1827, the foundation stone for the church was laid in 1840 after Knopwood’s death (1838). Knopwood is buried here, in a plain coffin with no name plate. The Church and its fittings and furnishings, the churchyard and burial ground are on the Register of the National Estate.”
From http://www.ohta.org.au/organs/organs/Rokeby.html you can gather further information including photos by John Maidment of the simple but striking building (see below) – all the more so because there are no other grandiose buildings nearby.
Once the bus was back on the main road, we passed the suburb of Oakdowns on the left and the Tasmanian Police Academy on the right (the latter overlooking a glorious panorama of Ralph’s Bay) before taking a bend in the road and coasting down into the main drag of Lauderdale, a seaside suburb. The tide across Ralph’s Bay was out leaving the rippled mudflats visible.
With suburban build-up left behind after Lauderdale, the scenery became entirely rural, except for the short line of houses in the shopless village of Sandford.