Tag Archives: Derwent Valley

Between Wayatinah and Catagunya Power Stations- posting 6 of 6

 

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.

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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.

 

Historic Houses

 

As I walked the length of the Derwent River, occasionally I passed 19th century heritage buildings: some were falling down and others existed in various states of restoration.  Occasionally I viewed these buildings from across the River, or from near my access routes to and from the River.

Below is a selection of houses that remain as evidence of the early white settlers in the Derwent Valley district.  During my recent foray into the writing, designing and compiling of books I was introduced to the Snipping Tool available as an accessory within Microsoft Word.   I will be using this Tool in such a way as you will think I am on one side of the river but I am on the other – all to protect the privacy and wishes of property owners and managers.

Cluny House

This 1820’s house was photographed and written up on a real estate site ‘The original brick section of Cluny was established with a larger sandstone section added in 1919 from sandstone sourced from an old farm building. Original timber floors, doors, window frames, open fire places and picture rails are featured throughout the home. A wide hallway leads to the four double bedrooms. The entire front boundary of this property is on the Derwent River with the advantage of a water licence and irrigation. The fertile river flats are suitable for any number of agricultural pursuits. The entire front boundary of this property is on the Derwent River with the advantage of a water licence and irrigation. The fertile river flats are suitable for any number of agricultural pursuits. There are numerous outbuildings including a five bay garage and machinery shed and an ancient stone cottage.

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Clarendon House

The property near Norton Mandeville was granted in 1819 to William Borrodaile and he built the house  and outbuildings from  1821 to include stables, hop kiln, barn and a walled yard.  The barn is pictured below

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Images of the  house include:

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Glenelg House

Tasmania’s Heritage Register provides the information that ‘Glenelg is a fine two storey Victorian Italianate Villa built in 1878 to a design of Henry Hunter. The house has a good hillside setting, and is seen prominently from the road. Glenelg at Gretna has been in the Downie family for six generations. Andrew Downie, a solicitor, was an immigrant from Stirling in Scotland in the early 1820s. He was granted the 1000 acre property Glenelg by Governor William Sorell in 1824. The original Glenelg grant still lies on the property, with sandstone corner posts at 3 of the corners and remains within the Downie family. In 1838 Andrew’s brother, William also emigrated to Van Diemen’s land and began working with his brother. Andrew had no children and returned to Scotland later in life, and William’s family continued to run Glenelg over the following years.’  Refer image 1

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Dunrobin

The Dunrobin land was granted to Walter Angus Bethune in 1821, and the current external fence attests to the property’s establishment date.

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You can see photographs and read more details about this property here.

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The New Dunrobin is a dairy estate.

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It was always a delight, amidst great tracts of agricultural land, to see isolated heritage buildings and to consider them as specimens of Tasmania’s social history.

Air quality

You may recall one night I was woken in my tent by the smell of smoke; you can refer to the post with the details.  Apart from that night and the following day as I walked further inland with smoke in my nostrils and not knowing whether I was walking towards or from a fire (I was in an area where access to the internet and mobile telephone reception is non-existent), one of the great delights has been the clean air. Being able to breathe deeply and feel clean on the inside has been a bonus.

From time to time thousands of hectares/acres of our land suffer from unplanned Bush Fires (called Wild Fires in the USA) the source of which may be lightning strikes on dry forests.

In addition various government agencies organise planned burns to reduce the amount of dry vegetation (‘fuel reduction’ being the current term), with the view of preventing major out-of-control Bush Fires when the temperatures increase and the wind blows strongly.  The media always alerts the public so those with respiratory problems can plan to stay indoors or take other precautions.

So at different times, Tasmania no longer has pristine air.  I was amazed when I read this article and found that the air in the Derwent Valley was compared with the extremely unfavourable air quality of industrial India and China.  Back then, the air in that particular locality could be labelled as severe pollution.   Thankfully, the circumstances have reverted to normal … until the next burn.

Hamilton and Ouse in Tasmania

These two historic towns straddle the Lyell Highway and both are situated a distance from the Derwent River.  Private farms fill the distance. Direct access to the River can only be achieved by driving approximately 15 kms when leaving Hamilton, or when driving from Ouse, the River or Meadowbank Lake can be reached from two directions; one approximately 7 and the other approximately 10 kms away.

Hamilton is located approximately 4kms ‘as the crow flies’ to the east of Meadowbank Lake.  The Clyde River, which passes through Hamilton empties into Meadowbank Lake (and it once flowed directly into the Derwent River before the Meadowbank Dam was built in 1967).  Tasmania for Everyone claims ‘Hamilton had its origins at a time when early European settlement of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) had progressed from Hobart up the Derwent Valley. The first settlers arrived here shortly after New Norfolk was settled in 1807. A ford across the “Fat Doe River” probably led to the first settlement of the area then known as Sorell Plains, with the village first named Macquarie’s Town, and later, Lower Clyde.By 1828 there were a few weatherboard and sod cottages on the banks of the Clyde, whilst by the 1830s a visitor noted there were some thirty sly grog shops as one entered the town. The name Hamilton had already been suggested for the settlement sometime in 1825 when, during a visit, Lt. Governor Arthur asked if Bothwell would not be suitable, being a Scot himself and dining with the mainly Scottish settlers. The “Fat Doe River” was renamed the Clyde and Hamilton and Bothwell chosen as names for the new settlements, both names recalling towns on the lower and upper Clyde in Scotland.
Occupying a strategic location in the development of roads and agriculture, Hamilton became the focal point of the transport of produce into and out of the district.  By 1832 there were sixty persons living in the settlement and surrounding landholders successfully petitioned for a police establishment as protection from marauding bushrangers and a spate of robberies.
By 1835 the district population had zoomed to 779, including 309 convicts and by 1837 the Police establishment had eleven petty constables and a flagellator (for whipping punishment).  With cheap convict labour it was during this period that many of the town’s buildings (which still stand today) and bridges were constructed.
By 1844 Hamilton was a bustling town, with two breweries, six or seven Inns, a blacksmith, stone quarries, mills, three agricultural implement makers and a large convict probation station; it held its own Races and Hunts, indeed development was so promising that the town was marked out as a major country town, in the style of an English town at the time, with squares, an esplanade, a Circus and Municipal Reserve.
A drive up onto the Hamilton Plains shows the roads laid out, and the decaying, dry stone walls are a reminder of the failed attempt by the mainly Irish settlers to farm the rich volcanic but dry soils of the plains. Nevertheless, Hamilton remained a bustling country town throughout the remainder of the 19th century, with the population peaking at 400 in 1881 and developments like the Langloh Coal mine to the northwest of the town in the late 1930s ensured its importance as a major rural centre.
Increasing mechanisation and improved road transport effectively put an end to Hamilton’s growth. Whilst sadly these factors led to Hamilton’s decay and ultimate demolition of some notable buildings, many fine examples remain in the streetscape having an ambience redolent of our colonial history.’ 

Hamilton is located on the far side of the hill in the photo below. The water is part of Meadowbank Lake.

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In Chantale’s photo below, the Clyde River is running into Meadowbank Lake. At the top centre of the photo you can see a few houses and these form part of the town of Hamilton.

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Ouse (pronounced ooze) is located approximately 3 kms ‘as the crow flies’ to the east of the Derwent River between Cluny Dam and the north western end of Meadowbank Lake. Tasmania for Everyone claims Ouse is ‘a small rural Central Highlands town on the Lyell Highway, situated on the junction with the Victoria Valley Road and on the banks of the Ouse River. Ouse is the settlement where convicts James Goodwin and Thomas Connolly broke out of the South West Wilderness four weeks after their escape from Sarah Island. Ouse Post Office opened on 1 October 1835.’

In Michelle’s photo below you will need to imagine that Ouse is located over the low hills in the distance away from the Derwent River.

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John Wadsley’s Brighton, Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and Southern Midlands Councils Joint Land Use Planning Initiative – Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan of July 2010 provides additional historical information concerning the building of bridges to enable expansion and ease transport, the significance of convict labour in settling the Valley, and the growth of farming, the development of industries, and the establishment of hydro power generating facilities.

Catherine Nicholson’s Highland Lakes Settlement Strategy of December 2009 offers further information about the history of settlement in the Derwent Valley.

What I notice, in all the histories of the Derwent Valley that I have read, is that attention is seldom given to the Derwent River rather it is focused on the rivers which fed into the Derwent, and also on the central highland lakes.  The search for fertile soil in which to grow wheat and other crops, and for land offering suitable pastures for sheep and cattle, was of paramount importance.

The photo below shows me in Hamilton. Behind me, the Clyde River (which flows into Meadowbank Lake) is located at the bottom of the hill and edges a delightful park which suits picnicking. I am sort of smiling but I was hot and bothered after a delightful day’s walk elsewhere.

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Out on the Farm

On the last day of October 2015, I walked along the river edge (part of Meadowbank Lake) and mostly on the property of Curringa Farm.  I am most appreciative for Tim and Jane Parsons allowing me to walk there.

Their Farm is home to thousands of sheep.

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While I walked along approximately 4km of the river’s edge towards where the Clyde River entering the Lake, my friend Alex waited. As she sat in the car reading newspapers and drinking tea from her thermos, the wonderful view down to the ‘river’ as shown below was hers to savour.  In fact this waterway is one part of the very long Meadowbank Lake through which the Derwent River flows. One of Alex’s photos is shown below.

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While I walked, the Lake was busy with jet boats and water skiers. Watch this video.

As usual, the water and the river’s edge landscape enthralled me.

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When I walk alone I hear and see things which are not usually available if I walk with another. That is, the talking or the crashing through the bush disturbs birds and animals and they disappear.  During this walk, when a Rufus wallaby was suddenly standing before me a few metres away, we were both surprised. The bush was so quiet and I must have been making foot noises which sounded like normal bush rustlings so that s/he wasn’t immediately aware of my presence.  Eventually s/he hopped off to watch me from some bushes in the distance. I hadn’t moved a muscle since we first eyeballed each other.  But after its bounce away, my eyes swivelled to focus on a movement on the hill above. Down hopped a small wallaby and on the crest his/her mother appeared.  The following video shows them almost camouflaged in the environment. I feel sure you will not find the smaller baby wallaby until it moves again.

Watch this video.

Through the undergrowth, many well ‘walked’ tiny tracks were visible but on closer inspection they seemed to be wallaby highways.

20151031_114746.jpg Clever animals – they had been able to gradually force up fences in order to continue moving through paddocks. If you study the photograph below, on the lower right hand side you can see the wire mesh fence has been raised by rounding it up from the ground.

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Substantial sandstone/mudstone rocks intruded at the water’s edge and as cliffs formed hillsides and cave-type overhangs.  I wonder if the original inhabitants of the land rested in some of these places.

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The next selection of photos shows a couple of examples of the profusion of bush flowers seen during this walk: I cannot identify the first but the second is a tiny native orchid.

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Generally the bush was extremely dry, so much so that the lichen growing on rocks was shrivelled and seemingly dead.

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Parts of the Derwent Valley have received so little rain over winter that there is insufficient vegetation coverage for the cattle and sheep to eat in the coming months.  Apparently many farmers will be selling their sheep soon before the animals lose their good condition.  It is so challenging to work on the land.  It will be so challenging for city dwellers wanting to eat lamb in a few months’ time – a few gold ingots might be needed to make a purchase.

Nevertheless, it is a beautiful part of the world.

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Plentiful

The views are magnificent around the area centred on the township of Plenty in the Derwent Valley, but at this time of the year the deciduous trees are lacking foliage and there is a grey-greening colour across the landscape. The visuals are comparatively dull.

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Reid’s cherry orchards are the backbone of Plenty. Finally I walked around their most western cleared paddocks.

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I took a last look at the river before heading towards ‘civilisation’, the railway line and the main road.

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Sighted near a private home, I thought the densely flowering Magnolia tree, pictured below, was a rich sensual delight.

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When I reached the railway line over the tiny Plenty River, I looked down and listened to the burbling water flowing into the Derwent River.

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The railway line sleepers over the Plenty River were rotten and impossible to walk over safely, so I exited to the main road, crossed the road bridge and then, through the row of trees on the right in the following photo, I entered a new paddock covered in fruit trees.

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I circled an orchard until I could clamber over a broken barbed wire fence that was squeezed between two poplars. Alas – my new jacket suffered a tear in the process.  Beyond was the trainline.

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Around the corner of the railway line as I walked westwards into the distance, I left Plenty.  The day was overcast and gloomy, and I was walking with a heavy heart because access to the river was impossible.

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Linden

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The name Linden is used to name streets, roads and courts in the Derwent Valley and elsewhere across Tasmania perhaps as a marker of someone with that surname who made an impact on the community in the past. But I could not find a Linden family history, or any other historical reason to justify the naming of the property I passed at approximately 5 kilometres west of New Norfolk.

Perhaps the naming was related to Linden trees native to England from where an early property owner may have travelled.  I cannot recognise this tree so I cannot say whether the trees on the property were lindens.

Alternatively, does Elena Gover’s account in Tasmania through Russian eyes (Nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) create another possibility? Was this property named after crew member Lieutenant Vilgelm Andreevich Linden of the Russian corvette Boyerin which arrived in Hobart in 1870 at a time of goodwill in terms of Australia-Russia relations? Linden wrote notes and collected extensive information about many aspects of Tasmania. ‘As well as chapters on geography, he made an analysis of the aftermath of transportation on the economic development of the island. Linden collected interesting information about the government and electoral system of Tasmania, and of the system of land allocation which allowed an influx of free settlers…

I did not walk down the driveway so I did not see existing residences at Linden. Apparently ‘Bryn Estyn’ homestead was built on the property in the 1840s, and named after the family home of new settler Lieutenant Henry Lloyd who had relocated from Wales. The State Library of Tasmania holds a photograph of the building:

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You may recall an earlier posting showed the Water Treatment Plant named ‘Bryn Estyn’. I can only assume the original land grants for Lloyd included the acres for the Treatment Plant.

A sandstone quarry on the property was the centre of attention when the building of Tasmania’s High Court in Hobart was being planned. Back in 1982, when A. A. Ashbolt owned the mineral lease, the quarry on the Linden property was surveyed to determine whether sufficient stone of ‘acceptable quality’ existed that would be suitable for cladding the new Court. Previously this stone was used on the Supreme Court of Tasmania. The stone was found to have been laid down in the Triassic period (about 3 million years ago), a time when the early dinosaurs were roaming the earth.

I suspect the property, marked with Linden at the entrance, is now known as Ashbolt Farm. The farm specialises in producing products from elderflower and olive trees and additional information is located here.  I wish I had known about this property prior to walking because I would have made arrangements to visit and enjoy a cup of hot elderberry tea.  When I passed this property last Thursday, there was no sign of life and no welcome sign posted.

Immediately past and in the vicinity of the property ‘Linden’, the racing Derwent River was visible from the road.

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