Tag Archives: Derwent Basin

Recapping the walk along the Derwent River

 

I lived the walk along the Derwent with a vital obsession but, after so many months intensely engaged on other projects, now some of the details are vague. To re-immerse myself into the experience, I am writing this post.

In addition, I suspect it will be a great help to people who have become followers of my blog during the past 6 months.  Despite my inactivity, it surprises me how many visitors and views the blog gets daily, how many different posts are read, and how many different countries around the world are represented.

In August 2014, from an impulsive unplanned idea, I took a bus to a spot near the mouth of the Derwent River on the eastern shore, walked to the sea then retraced my steps and began the walk towards the source of this great river approximately 214kms inland.  On day trips, and around other life commitments, I walked in stages along the eastern shore until I reached the Bridgewater Bridge which crosses the Derwent approximately 43 kms upstream.

Instead of continuing inland, I crossed the bridge and headed back on the western shore towards the southernmost  mouth of the River.  Most of the walks along the eastern and western shores between the sea and the Bridgewater Bridge were along designated pathways, although some informal track walking, road walking and beach walking was required during my trips.

Then I returned to the Bridgewater Bridge and began the journey inland expecting only to walk on the side of the river that made passage easiest.  I had no intention to walk both sides from this point onwards in anticipation the landscape would be inaccessible for a number of reasons or particularly wild with dense and difficult forests. I walked to New Norfolk on the western/southern side of the Derwent but from then on, I switched from side to side. Using maps I determined where I must take up each new stage of a walk while switching from side to side, so that I could say I had traipsed the entire length of the Derwent River.

The farthest inland stages of my walk are easily defined.  I walked from near the township of Tarraleah besides Canal 1 (along which is transported Derwent River water) above the actual River bed, past Clark Dam, and around majestic Lake King William to the township of Derwent Bridge.  From there I followed the river to its source at St Clair Lagoon dam.  In case some people believe the source of the Derwent is further inland, I walked onwards to the weir where the Derwent Basin empties into the St Clair Lagoon via passing the southern end of Lake St Clair.

Between New Norfolk and the area near  Tarraleah, my walk beside the River was in country near  townships (some of which were located at a great distance from the River) such as Bushy Park, Gretna, Hamilton, Ouse, and Wayatinah.  This necessitated additional travel to or from the highway and roads, on which these towns exist, to reach the river or to return home from a walk along the river.

Inland, the water of the Derwent River is controlled by dams constructed to create hydro-electricity for Tasmania: I walked past them all. From the end of the river closest to the mouth, these are the Meadowbank, Cluny, Repulse, Catagunya, Wayatinah, Clark and St Clair Lagoon dams.  Each of these has a bank of water behind them:  Meadowbank Lake, Cluny Lagoon, Lake Repulse, Lake Catagunya, Wayatinah Lagoon, Lake King William and St Clair Lagoon.  Most of these dams and bodies of water has a power station: Meadowbank Power Station, Cluny Power Station, Repulse Power Station, Catagunya Power Station, Wayatinah Power Station and Butlers Gorge Power Station.  I was privileged to be shown around one of these power stations during one walk.

Water from the Derwent passes through two other power stations:  Nieterana mini hydro and the Liapootah Power Station.  I did not follow the trail of these Derwent River managed flows.  The water from other locations inland passes through the Lake Echo Power station and Tungatinah Power Station then flows into the Derwent after power generation, thereby increasing the volume of water flowing downstream.  I did not walk along these feeder rivers.

The few stages of the walks which have not been recorded in this blog, are in all the zone between Gretna and the area near Tarraleah – a stretch of perhaps  120 km.  I have written up and posted most of the walks in this zone, and now it’s time to add the missing sections.

Resting and reflection

I had nowhere else to be so I sat on the track edge at the Derwent Basin weir and mused.  And when I realised telephone reception existed in this part of the wilderness, I texted and phoned people.  I could go no further.

The day was cool but mild, and the water gentle and clear.  Joy. Profound happiness.  A deeply moving experience. And I was grateful.

20160104_091127.jpg

20160104_091207.jpg

20160104_093148

 

20160104_093159.jpg

 

 

 

The track to the Derwent Basin

I and the floating threads of spider web strands were the only occupants of the sometimes wider and sometimes narrower track from the Pumphouse Point locked gate onwards to the Derwent Basin.  The twists and turns of the tiny track made sure I had new vegetation and bush character to look at, on every moment of the walk.

20160104_084951.jpg

Native animals had passed along the path leaving evidence of their progress.  For example, the dragging of a small kangaroo tail is shown below.

20160104_084709.jpg

Between this track and the clear water of St Clair Lagoon, reedy wetlands extended large distances, so much so, that seeing the water was impossible.

20160104_084943.jpg

20160104_085321.jpg

After winding within the bush, finally the track entered the back of the Pumphouse Point Hotel complex’s visitor carpark, with the reception building and one of the facility blocks nearby.

20160104_090118.jpg

20160104_090127.jpg

No signage existed to direct me to the Derwent Basin weir from the Pumphouse Point complex, so I crossed a small bridge and took ‘pot luck’ along tracks which eventually allowed me to pass the area where the Derwent Basin meets Lake St Clair’s waters, and to continue onto the Derwent Basin Weir.

20160104_090448

Enjoy the crystal sharp birdsong in the bush on this short video.

Later I found a sign and followed the elevated blue metal track from which I could scan glimpses of the large expanse of Derwent Basin.

20160104_090517.jpg

20160104_090646.jpg

20160104_090802

20160104_090846.jpg

20160104_090856.jpg

20160104_091000.jpg

20160104_091114.jpg

On the southern side of the track, St Clair Lagoon filled the space. In the photos below you can see the bump on the horizon; that is Mount Charles to the north east of Lake King William which I had walked beside and around the day before I reached this idyllic spot.

20160104_090836

20160104_090952

When I reached the tiny weir controlling the flow of water from the Derwent Basin into St Clair Lagoon, the sharp mid-morning sun sparkled intensely on the water. I was almost blinded by the light.

20160104_091137.jpg

20160104_091229.jpg20160104_091226.jpg

 

What if the water leaving St Clair Lagoon Dam was not the source of the Derwent?

 

Different people hold views about the start and finish of places and the same is true for the Derwent River.  So, just in case, someone should say to me that the River’s source is at the weir where water flows from the Derwent Basin into St Clair Lagoon, or the source is where the water flows from the body of Lake St Clair into the Derwent Basin, I walked to both other locations to be sure I had arrived at ‘the source’.

From St Clair Lagoon Dam I returned to the Pumphouse Point road and continued towards Lake St Clair and the Hotel.  Trees flanked the walk.

20160104_082932.jpg

20160104_082941.jpg

And I passed unwalkable wetlands.

20160104_083218.jpg

Suddenly one corner of spectacular Lake St Clair stretched before me, and I could see the outlier of the Pumphouse Point Hotel sitting crisply on the Lake, roughly marking the entrance of water to the Derwent Basin.

20160104_083442.jpg

20160104_083436.jpg

20160104_083751.jpg

As I walked towards the Point I fell in love with Mount Olympus standing high in all its grandeur. Zeus would be pleased.

20160104_083958.jpg

Gradually I closed in on the Point so that the white box appeared as a building.

20160104_084007.jpg

20160104_084345.jpg

The entrance to the Hotel seemed barred to me.

20160104_084531.jpg

However to the right of the entrance a sign indicated a walking track would take me to the Weir at the southern end of the Derwent Basin.

20160104_084550.jpg

Again, anglers have been remembered.

20160104_084638.jpg

What goes up goes down

In any landscape, every hill has its ups and downs. Having crested the hill separating me away from Lake King William but with the Derwent River on my left as I walked northwards, I was astonished that I could see Lake St Clair.  There, as a bright white beacon on the water surface, was the Pumphouse Point Hotel. You will need to enlarge the photo below to see the tiny white block in upper left centre. To its right a small portion of the Derwent Basin can be seen. The Derwent Basin empties into St Clair Lagoon, and where that Lagoon is dammed, the Derwent River starts its long run to the sea.

20160103_103751.jpg

Of course the source was still a long way away, but I knew seeing this vista meant I was closing in on the point where the Derwent River started.

Then I started downhill on the sharp rocky track.

20160103_103831.jpg

At the halfway down point, I photographed the view both up and down.

20160103_110309.jpg

20160103_110407.jpg

20160103_110401.jpg

Before long I was walking with the River to my left and a dry forest beside me.

20160103_110548.jpg

Yesterday I walked to the source of the Derwent River

Over the past four days I have enjoyed remote, off-the-main-track inland Tasmania from Clark Dam at Butlers Gorge, along the edge of Lake King William to the town ship of Derwent Bridge, and then further north to where the Derwent River commences out of the gates of St Clair Lagoon.  I continued further north also to the Weir which controls water into St Clair Lagoon from the Derwent Basin (which is kept filled with water flowing from Lake St Clair).  Dozens of posts with all the details of the walks, and accompanied by some grand photos, will be forthcoming over the coming days.

This latest walk means I have walked most of the length of the Derwent River from the mouth to the source.  There are only a few gaps to fill if I have the courage (or a moment perhaps of insanity because of the level of difficulty I believe is involved) in the coming weeks.

For the moment, I thought a few photos would be in order to whet your appetite for more.

The photo below shows one aspect of a view across Lake King William in the late afternoon.

20160102_170531.jpg

The photo below looks across Lake King William early in the morning.

20160103_072935.jpg

Sun passing through gum leaves.

20160103_110629.jpg

The Derwent River early morning near Derwent Bridge.

20160104_064805.jpg

The source of the Derwent River – the water as it leaves St Clair Lagoon. I was standing on the dam when I took the second photo, and watching the water run away eventually to pass New Norfolk then Hobart and finally exit into Storm Bay before dispersing into the wide ocean.  The whole experience was quite marvellous.  The river was fresh and alive!  And so was I!

20160104_075644 20160104_081109