Tag Archives: Derwent

Did I have company? – posting 6 of 9

On both sides of the Bowen Bridge lots of dry tall yellow grasses and other scrubby undergrowth grew next to the path. I was the only person around and the track appeared to be used rarely. The area was isolated; the closest residential area was over one kilometre away and I suspect that locals would seldom walk here. With the heat of the day and the nearness of the river, I was alert for the slither of snakes heading down for a desperate drink. However, I feel sure they would be deranged if they drank salty water  –  the Derwent is tidal at this point. Nevertheless I  did not want to step on or corner one – all Tasmanian snakes are venomous.

Strangely, not only did I not see a snake but I also did not see a water bird.  Thankfully there were a few chattering birds in the casuarina and eucalypt trees to keep me company.

Earlier in the day when I was walking around the Technopark fence line downhill nearest the Derwent River,  I had watched dozens of brightly blue and red coloured beetles- I haven’t seen these before, and a website for identifying Tasmanian beetles does not include this one.  Anybody any ideas?

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The experience was very pleasant and I would be very happy to wander this way again.

Word of caution for others who might follow in my footsteps: the seedpods of the casuarina were liberally sprinkled along the pathway and in the light dappled by the trees, full concentration was required so that I didn’t roll on them – a sprained ankle or a fall down the slope were just two possible consequences if I did not watch where I was going.

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The Styx River

In ancient Greece, the Styx was a deity and also a river that formed a boundary between earth and the underworld, and was one which had miraculous powers. In texts such as Dante’s The Divine Comedy, the Styx figures as a metaphor for Hell. I suspect many countries in the world contain a river named the Styx and that for some people, their river connects with Hell or with an earlier characteristic from Greek mythology. There are a number of Styx rivers across Australia.

Tasmania’s Styx river feeds the Derwent when it flows into that River along the edges of the Bushy Park Sports Oval. Our Styx River, a wild one racing through narrow gorges and bristling over rapids in many sections, starts its life in the wilderness near Mount Mueller further west and south of Maydena before travelling past dense ancient forests. I can imagine for our early settlers, the inaccessibility of the river, the rugged surrounding landscape, and the virtual impenetrability of the vegetation would have made this territory seem like hell.  To compound their problems, constant heavy rain falls, cold miserable conditions in winter and fiendishly hot days in summer would have made their lives hell. Yet, over time, the forestry industry found ways near the Styx River to log old-growth forests. Regrettably.

Back to my walk.

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I survived a quick jog over the Styx River road bridge without being mown down by vehicular traffic, and stopped to look at the water rustling beneath.

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I rested nearby to enjoy the sound of the water and the comparatively cool air.

Tent practice

I have slept in tents but not for many years. Over the past days I realised that I have never camped in a tent without a car nearby, except for my overnighters on the Overland Track (during which I stayed in huts). That is, all my bushwalking experiences have been day walks not requiring the carrying of a tent.

Recently I set out to practice sleeping in my new tent in order to accustom myself to the noises of the night (at home I have double glazed windows so that sleep time is a silent time).  In order to complete my record of all aspects of my trek along the Derwent, I am including this post – but you will recognise a nincompoop in capital letters when you read about my first experience.

Last week I was tired when I put on shoes and socks (trying to be a little authentic), slipped on my headlamp and treked off into the night from my home’s front door. A few metres down the hill into my backyard, where I had pitched my tent earlier in the day, I unzipped the rain-dropped tent fly, fumbled with the tent zip, and quickly fell through the hole created, into the tent. Twisting around, I was immediately sitting comfortably on my borrowed mattress (thanks Ju) all the while slipping around on the new sleeping bag, reaching out and rezipping my tent fly, and untying my shoe laces. Off came the shoes and I was really pleased with the way one side of the tent fly makes a little vestibule. The shoes could sit there on the grass protected from the rain. Pulled in the legs and zipped the tent. It was difficult to keep still; the shiny sleeping bag surface was constantly moving beneath me.

I have an incline for a back yard, not very steep but my block of land is not horizontal.  Earlier in the day I had installed the tent in a place where the trees and bushes wouldn’t scratch past the tent if there was any wind, and where it didn’t seem as steep a slope as elsewhere. Of course I discovered a shiny sleeping bag on a slope is not conducive for continuous sleep. Ridiculously hopeless from the beginning and a good lesson learnt.

Inside the tent I had plenty of room, and was perfectly set up for a good night’s sleep. The sleeping bag was snug and cocoon like. I was wearing a thermal top, socks and fleece trousers but it was too hot in that little tube to wear them all. So I am very happy with the ability of my new sleeping bag to keep me warm overnight.

But whenever I wriggled or turned over, down I slipped heading towards the bottom of the tent. Each downward slide required a new effort from me, inside that zipped up close-fitting cocoon, to lump/hump myself back up towards the top of the tent. Get positioned. Go to sleep. Wake up to find I am turning over in my sleep and heading south. Grunt and groan to get myself back uphill again. Super sleep. Oh oh. Going downhill again. Repeat the manoeuvre. Rest. Contemplate how happily warm I am. Fall deeply and happily asleep.

Waking yet again, I realised the mattress was turning cold. I was very warm inside my nylon tube but where my body touched, a penetrating cold was coming through. Why, I wondered. Was the mattress deflating? No it did not seem to be. Unexplainable but not good. I willed myself to sleep and slipped off yet again into the land of nod.

It was when I awoke around 4am, the mattress was too cold, and I was at the bottom of the tent heading towards a foetal position that I remembered I did have a bed to go to.  Feet into the shoes, out into the drizzle, and then ‘home’. Yes – later I did feel rested. Friends can see a cartoon or two coming out of this ‘adventure’!

This weekend I headed into the country and, thanks to blog follower Ju, I was able to camp on a more rural property out in an apple orchard. Deliberately I set the tent up in an area that is normally considered a possum and wallaby thoroughfare because I wanted to see if the scampering and vocal gymnastics of these native animals would wake or alarm me.

Tasmania is home to 5 species of possum.  The type most commonly found where I camped would have been the Common Brushtail Possum (photo below is from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Brushtail_Possum.htm)

Common Brushtail Possum

Which of Tasmania’s two species of wallaby were grazing around me overnight, I will never know. It could have been either or both the Bennett’s wallaby

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(Photo from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Bennetts_Wallaby.htm) or the Pademelon also known as the Rufous wallaby (Photo from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Tas_Pademelon.htm)

Pademelon

There are no funny stories from my night in the orchard. I slept flat. The mattress didn’t become cold. The animals didn’t wake me.  I slept.  Outside in the morning, a carpet of hard frost covered the land – but I was never cold inside the tent. Apprenticeship over!

A light rain dusted the tent before dismantling, and continued while I packed up. So my only issue now is to find a clever way to dry a tent before repacking when I am out and about on my walks.

Bloggers associating with mainstream media

After blog reader Jo became aware of various discussions by people interested in blogging in association with mainstream media, he forwarded a link to me.

Friends know that I can talk the leg off a table about my walking and related research projects. Therefore, if an opportunity was presented to me to talk about what I am doing on radio, television or write for the print media, I would welcome this.  But at the moment I am not interested in being proactive and engineering such opportunities; I am simply enjoying myself too much with the research and walks.  Yet because I do hope to inspire others to get out and make their own life projects large or small, not necessarily along a river like the Derwent and not necessarily walking, then perhaps I should make the time to broadcast more widely using mainstream media. Have any of my followers thought through this and, of so, what have you decided or done?  What have been the outcomes?

My blog is already directly connected to social media. It has its own Facebook and Twitter sites, and is connected to LinkedIn. I like the fact that these manage themselves and require minimal action from me, thereby releasing me for further research. But is this enough?

In the online article, “Ms Perera said working with mainstream media helped boost her credibility as writer and her social media followers. ‘It helped me in terms of going forward with my blog… having being published in places like Fairfax just makes your work seem more substantial,’ she said.”  Until reading this, it had not occurred to me that some people believe a hierarchy of media types exists and that bloggers are somehow less credible than writers in the mainstream media.  What do other bloggers think about this, I wonder?

Carly Jacobs in the online article said ‘she knew other bloggers who had been burned by their interactions with traditional media. “I’ve got lots of blogging friends that have had very, very negative experiences in working with mainstream media. Particularly personal bloggers. A lot of the time they’ve been misquoted, or they haven’t really understood the relationship…. I think bloggers are a little bit more sensitive to other people’s privacy, whereas mainstream journalists are trained to get ‘the good story’ out of people.”’  I wonder if my followers have any experiences they wish to share on this point.

What about bloggers seeking financial gain?

I imagine all blog writers would love a dribble if not a rush of income from their regular reports. This is perfectly understandable for those writing with the commercial motivation to sell a product or a service. However, I believe there are thousands of us who simply love what we do and what we write about, and we will continue to do so without expectation of dollars floating into our bank accounts.  I will be interested in the viewpoint of those of my regular blog followers who have their own blog.  Are you already attracting or trying to attract sponsoring advertisers to bring you some income?

Golden acacias

In our Tasmanian bush and in the suburbs Spring is evidenced by the budding and blooming of the early flowering native acacias. Last year, I included photographs of a few different varieties of these trees, commonly known as wattles, in various blog posts. Over the weekend during a suburban ramble, I was delighted to come across the early awakenings of a couple of wattle trees.

In my photo below, on the lower left of the image you can see some ‘open’ flower balls. As yet I have not been able to identify this acacia tree: it looked something like an Acacia Riceana otherwise known as the Arching Wattle, but it was not a prickly bush so this means it is another variety of the 950 species of acacias.

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Wattles have been known and used by Australia’s indigenous population for thousands of years as an excellent food source. According to WildSeed Tasmania  , the Acacia mearnsii ‘Black Wattle’ is one of a number of local wattle trees which have edible seeds suitable for flour production and for medicinal uses of its bark. More information can be read at Bush Tucker Edible Acacias. The Australian Native Food Industry says the edible parts are ‘Seed – the seed is harvested, then roasted and can be ground or sold whole. The flowers (without stalks) can also be used, typically in pancakes, scones and scrambled eggs or omelettes.’ This website also contains information about the nutritional value: wattle seed is a high energy source, contains a wide range of minerals and provides valuable fibre to the diet. The seed pods appear in the first part of the year so, when I am walking along the Derwent in the first three months of 2016, I will remember this readily available food source.

Finding cooked produce containing wattle seed in cafes or restaurants is not unusual. Native Tastes of Australia lists many recipes for mouthwatering cakes, pies, meat dishes and much more.

Meeta Pandit at the Theatre Royal in Hobart

Having established the Theatre Royal’s connection to the Derwent River, it is now an easy step to exclaim about a recent performance staged in that theatre.

Before booking seats for an Indian classical music concert, I conducted no research so I was surprised by the extraordinary powerful and musical voice which flowed effortlessly from the stage one night this week.  At the concert I discovered that Meeta Pandit, internationally renowned vocalist in the Hindustani tradition, has established herself as a highly revered singer of classical Indian ragas.

Wikipedia informs me that ‘The term “Hindustan” has been historically applied to the Gangetic Plain of North India… Hindustani classical music is the … North Indian style of Indian classical music.’ I also learned that ‘It is traditional for performers who have reached a distinguished level of achievement to be awarded titles of respect; Hindus are usually referred to as pandit and Muslims as ustad.’

Meeta Pandit’s performance was amazing. Vocal gymnastics of the most wonderful kind.  Her perfect pitch, extraordinary breath control, and the rapid precise movement up and down the octaves kept me spellbound. In addition, the hypnotic wandering of her fingers drew me in more deeply.

Later, when I listened to samples of her singing on http://meetapandit.com/, it sounded very nasal, common and unspecial and that’s not what I heard.  At the concert it was pure sound.  Pure.  Music.  I travelled to India many years ago and since then have listened to music from India in many forms.  Because of Meeta Pandit’s superb vocal quality and performance abilities, I now feel the Indian music I experienced previously only amounts to wailing and unpleasant piercing assaults on my ears by comparison.

My accompanying friend, a follower of this blog, exclaimed ‘who would have thought when the Theatre Royal was built almost two centuries ago that one day someone with a voice as fluid and melodic would travel from a country with even greater rivers than the Derwent, to grace the stage and leave an audience gasping for breath and overwhelmed by such brilliance.’ Meeta Pandit comes from the northern part of India which is slightly west of centre where great rivers such as the Yamuna River flow and, during this week’s concert, she mentioned rivers in her songs. At the risk of alienating readers with words that seem cheesy, it seemed to me the sounds from her vocal chords flowed like the continuous silky smooth waters of inland rivers. It was that good! Okay. Enough of my use of superlatives.

At the Theatre Royal concert, a fellow musician played hand drums and another played a Shruti box with bellows that provide a drone accompaniment, but I saw no string instruments. You can watch You Tube videos on many sites and gain an idea of Meeta Pandit’s vocal ability and musicality; examples include –

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w4Fji9E8Ww

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JEk9eZiVUI

Alas

Regretfully I sit here at my computer at the time I had planned to leave home for Stage 7 of my walk along the Derwent River.  As promised the sky is mostly cloudy and, while I would have preferred a clear blue sky, clouds in themselves are not the problem.  The clouds are trying to be ordinary cumulus stacks but there is too much a sense of snow cloud around their edges, so I do not trust the day. The mountain (Mt Wellington) still has a covering of snow from yesterday’s storms and today’s winds blowing from there are icy.  Since quite a bit of today’s walk was over exposed roads, the thought of being blasted by the wind all day isn’t attractive. So … I expect Friday’s weather to be suitable and will try again then.  It’s such a shame. My lunch was made and bag packed. Nature wins!