Since Andrew had walked this way, much rain had fallen so that any chance of crossing Black Bob’s Rivulet somewhere near where he walked was zero.
I continued back to the old Cooma property through more locked gates.
The owners were in the distance checking on some of their animals. Incredibly healthy cattle wandered around the unfenced land. Big curious fellows. Superb condition. Beautiful black coats. Brown coats. Mixed colours. As usual I talked to the animals.
Elsewhere, I watched a large family of yellow tailed Black Cockatoos raucously calling from tree to tree. On another occasion a rush of coloured parrots whipped through the bush with astounding speed.
A large number of gravel roads and tracks meander over the hills between Catagunya and Wayatinah. Many do not appear on maps. Without a compass a walker could spend hours taking useless tracks – apparently people have been known to become so disoriented they find themselves way north of the river and after many kilometres back on the Lyell Highway. In part, the tracks were created to service plantation forests grown after original native forests were cleared and burnt. The other user is TasNetworks, the State company which travels around to access the electrical power transmission towers and to check the levels of vegetation along the transmission lines.
Since massive bush fires many years ago in one part of the area between Catagunya and Wayatinah, the remnants of hundreds of hectares of pine plantations have created a problem for the forestry industry. The small remaining stands of living trees are awkward to reach and not profitable to harvest. Much of the land is covered by burnt parts of trees none of which can be used. The cost to clear seems too high. Lost money. Lost opportunity. And lost original native forests. Nature always attempts to reclaim its place however in practice this means that those plants which breed well and grow quickly can create monocultures no less damaging than the single species plantation forests . In parts along the burnt out section, native plants that act like weeds such as some wattles are already taking over. Monocultures do not a forest make.
The goal was achieved. It was great to have it done. I am very grateful for Andrew’s generosity of spirit and for his notes and photographs. The walk between Wayatinah and Catagunya Power Stations could be ticked off the list. But a long walk back to the Lyell Highway had to be faced before returning home. Andrew turned north for the 7 km walk on Catagunya Road. He passed a mix of open unfenced paddocks and distant plantations. The Cooma farmstead and outbuildings were the only marker that people had lived in the area.
For a brief moment he thought he would have company. Andrew had been walking for a while when, in the distance on a straight stretch of road, he could just make out a couple of figures coming slowly towards him. Someone to say g’day to and have a natter – but – on closer inspection they transformed into ambling sheep. After that, Andrew’s company all the way back to the locked gate was a rather large herd of very healthy looking quadrupedal steaks – which, with a spritely step, he kept ahead of. After some 7 hours of pleasant walking, this walk along the Derwent River was over. There had been time for plenty of stops during the day to take photographs and to enjoy the surroundings.
Hydro Tasmania, TasNetworks and forestry related employees can drive over the convoluted maze of tracks between the two dams, but there are numerous locked gates and no general public access. Even during the walking, many locked gates with serious double and complicated locks were seen. I have said in earlier postings that landowners and managers in the Derwent Valley and Central Highlands can recite histories of bad experiences with people entering their lands and not treating it appropriately or stealing their wood or livestock. It is a shame that a few people wreck it for the rest, and remove the opportunities for those who care for the land and the property of others and wish to explore more of our wonderful Tasmanian natural environment.