Tag Archives: Cluan

The water issue

Unfortunately, the Derwent River’s water level was low and its unscramblable muddy banks prevented me filling up my water containers for most of my walk.  By this stage of the walk – mid morning on day 2 – my water supply was a big worry.

Contrary to my expectations of being able to collect water along the route, throughout Day 1 I found it impossible to get to the river water safely and be able to clamber back up slippery thorny banks.  Originally, I had left home with two plastic bladders each containing one litre.  When I reached the property Cluan on Day one, having quickly decided I could refill a bladder at the river’s edge I drank the remains of one bladder.  Regrettably, on closer inspection at the river edge I could not get down to the water.  This meant I needed to refill somewhere else along the way. But, as you know from earlier postings, I was never next to the river again on Day one, spent lots of time walking on the disused railway line, and eventually pitched camp next to the line.  That night I needed a reasonable amount of water to rehydrate and cook my evening meal.   From then until morning I cautiously sipped the remaining water.

First thing next morning on Day 2, instead of boiling water for a much looked for cup of tea or to make porridge, I ate a fruit bar for breakfast, and took a sip of water. Then, after packing up, I started walking.  Normally I drink a lot of water each day, and I know how important it is to keep hydrated  particularly when you are moving.  Water was everywhere but not a drop to drink – except for the remaining mouthfuls from my water bladder. I knew the water rationing had to continue. I was glad the air temperature was cool so that I wasn’t losing too much in perspiration.  However, I wasn’t to know that I would need to walk considerably further before I had a modicum of success in terms of water gathering.

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.

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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.

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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.

Cluan

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Built around 1837 but originally named Charlie’s Hope, Cluan homestead presides over more than two and a half thousand hectares of farmland. Historical information involving new settlers, convicts and smuggling can be read here.

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This property is on the market – see this website and a second website. Put in your expression of interest if you want to live in this beautiful rural setting. The promotional material indicates a private beach on the Derwent River is part of the package. I found the river level was low down on a slippery muddy bank past tall Pampas grass and therefore the river water was inaccessible.  I am not sure where the beach was.

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