Tag Archives: East Derwent Highway

Chatting with a traveller

On Stage 14 of my walk from Granton to New Norfolk by the Derwent  River, a car pulled off the road ahead of me at Sorell Creek. The female driver sat motionless. I plodded on and, as I walked past the car, she wound down her side window and asked for help.  A farmer from inland NSW, she and her daughter were staying temporarily in Maydena (http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/about/regions-of-tasmania/hobart-and-south/maydena), a small town on the way to Strathgordon in south western Tasmania – a town where our shy native platypus can be seen in the fast flowing Tyenna River, the waters of which eventually flow downstream to help keep the Derwent River level high.

While her husband worked that day, she decided to take a drive in the car and look around to see more of the country.

When we met, she wanted to find a route to the convict penitentiary at Port Arthur (http://www.portarthur.org.au) without needing to navigate busy Hobart city streets. Her only map was a small abbreviated tourist map of Tasmania that showed the main highways and a few towns. I dragged out some of my maps, and we chatted amiably while many options were considered.  Through these conversations I was clear that our road signage is designed for those who know where they are going, and not always for those who don’t know the terrain.

The thought of encouraging her to take the East Derwent Highway, come out near the Tasman Bridge and then need to cross three lanes of traffic immediately, filled me with dread.  When you are driving and unsure of where you are and how to get there, many signs and endless traffic can be disorienting.  I felt sure she would find herself in suburbia and never understand how to extract herself from there in order to be on her way to Port Arthur.

To take the Midlands Highway by crossing the Bridgewater Bridge, and travel towards Oatlands to find a cross country route, also seemed impractical.  Once off that highway, narrow winding roads lead eventually to Richmond but this would not help her easily to get onto a road leading to her destination, without much more direction asking of locals.

We settled on the option where she would continue along the Lyell Highway, drive along the Brooker Highway towards Hobart city, before taking the left hand exit to the Tasman Bridge near Hobart, and then driving across the Bridge.  I hope the blue airport symbol was posted liberally during that journey.  If she followed that symbol, then once at the final roundabout to the airport she knew to drive straight on.  We didn’t exchange contact details so I continue to wonder if she found Port Arthur without getting lost and without losing time.

At 12.15pm we parted company. I was glad to have had someone to talk with. Besides, she had been considering walking (http://www.bicentennialnationaltrail.com.au/) from the north to the south through Australia (a mere 5330kms from Cooktown in far northern Queensland to Healesville slightly east of Melbourne, Victoria).  I wish her all the best.

The Derwent River and its Highways

The south of Tasmania is crossed by trunk roads, regional freight roads and regional access roads, including six of the highways for walking on when walking from the mouth of the Derwent River to the source.

  1. The South Arm Highway which extends from Opossum Bay to where the suburb of Mornington reaches the Tasman Highway. I bussed and/or walked on the South Arm highway during Stages 1-3.

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2.   On the eastern shore of the Derwent from Geilston Bay to Bridgewater Bridge it was the East Derwent Highway which felt the plod of my feet occasionally during stages 5 -8 of my walk.

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3.    Once I reached Bridgewater on Stage 9, the highway crossing the Bridge was the Midland or Midlands Highway (sometimes referred to as the Heritage Highway).

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4.     Some of Stage 12 of my walk on the western shore towards the mouth of the Derwent River, included a couple of kilometres on the Channel Highway.

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5.   At the start of Stage 14 I will walk on the last few metres of the Brooker Highway, the main highway which extends from the centre of Hobart city to the Bridgewater Bridge at Granton. For the first time, at the Bridgewater Bridge, this Highway edges the Derwent River.

6.    Immediately after the highway intersection with the Bridge, the Lyell Highway commences. From Granton until I reach the source, the Derwent River winds closest to the Lyell Highway, the highway which extends west to the town of Queenstown (which is overshadowed by the copper bearing Mount Lyell). This highway will be my life line in terms of accessing public buses.

Across the Jordon and into Greens Point as I walked northwards along the Derwent River

In leaving Herdsmans Cove, I was back on the East Derwent Highway and immediately crossing the bridge northwards across the Jordan River.

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Looking towards the Green Point peninsula at the far end (Derwent River is on the other side of the peninsula) from the Jordan River Bridge: suburbs of Herdsmans Cove on the left and Green Point on the right.

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I was off the bridge by 11am and walking up the bitumen path beside the Highway until I reached a yellow gravel path to the left, where I turned and continued on with wild fennel flourishing on the sides of the path along with brightly flowering gazanias growing wild, walked around another gate and by 11.11am I reached the sign for the Bridgewater Foreshore Trail.

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In the distance I could see rain showers softening over Mount Wellington but I was dry and walking in the sunshine. After rounding another gate, a sign pointed out the Green Point Scenic Loop off to the left. I headed along this in a southward direction enjoying the fresh smell of the gum trees and the perfume of the wattle flowers.

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At 11.35am I reached the point of Green Point at the junction of the Jordan River with the Derwent River and sat on the grass beside the path for a brunch break.  My breakfast was eaten at 6am so I was a smidgin hungry by this time. A strong south westerly wind blew across the Derwent River and buffeted me. The freshness was invigorating.

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Ten minutes later I was up and walking on.

A few minutes after midday I had passed some more gates and signs and had chosen the trail closest to the shore leading north. On my right were the fences of some houses, and either someone had dumped their rubbish over the fence or the wind had blown it there. I was amused to see a blue hard plastic chair hanging on a washing line.

Just after 12.30pm I walked around the Green Point Waste Water Treatment Centre, or as some maps have it, the Sewage Works.  The fresh smells of wattle or gum trees couldn’t reach my nose here. For some reason?

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Near the Treatment Works I walked back on a street for some metres before coming around a corner where I was able to return to the yellow gravel road (am I Tasmania’s version of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz?).

Now I was about to walk around the suburb of Bridgewater.

Onwards into and around Herdsmans Cove on the 8th stage of my walk along the Derwent Rive

At 9.48 am I was leaving Old Beach and continuing my walk northwards along the East Derwent Highway with its noise of heavy trucks and speeding cars passing me by. To my left were masses of overgrowing blackberry brambles reminding me of the thicket scrambled through on my last walk.  Not long after, the hint of a track on the left took me away from the edge and above the Highway and a little closer to the River.  I continued for a while when it seemed like the track would descend into Gage Cove, but it petered out – I recommend anyone following in my tracks stays on the Highway. Overhead soared a large hawk or kite drifting on the breeze while looking down for a feed.   Below I could see black swans feeling safe on the waters of the reedy Cove. Back towards the road I walked, clambered over a collapsing barbed wire fence, and eventually down onto the unprotected road verge and again sometimes into the ditch (with the thrown cigarette butts and the jetsam of McHappy Meals). At 9.58am I reached the sign for Gage Brook and soon after observed some water ran below towards Gage Cove, amidst a conglomeration of marshy and spiky vegetation.

I continued past a second sign directing traffic to the Baskerville Raceway, and at 10.10am I turned left at a major roundabout (suburb of Gagebrook to the right, Bridgewater straight ahead and Herdsmans Cove to the left). A minute later I turned left at a T-junction then left again at Calvert Court at 10.19am.

I loved hearing the wind in the massive gum trees.  Majestic to look at. Thrilling to listen to. The photo bellows shows a stand of gums in a mowed parkland beside the Bellerive walk. The trees I saw at Herdsmans Cove were much larger.

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At 10.23am I turned left at a short unnamed cul de sac with an empty block leading to a foreshore trail. Two locals, who were mowing lawns, confirmed this was the way to go. On the track, a sign gave directions along this ‘Swan Park Trail’.

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I never discovered if there was an actual Herdsmans Cove as in a bay or body of water, but I suspect it may be the small inlet adjacent and north of the Lamprill Circuit. If I had turned left I could have walked the Lamprill Circuit. However, because I could look down and could see a small shelter structure had been built at a vantage point where the River and mountain views could be appreciated and I realised going down meant coming back up a hill, I did not pursue this direction.

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Instead I turned right and headed northwards. This was the first of the Brighton local government signs and it made me more confident of where I was walking as I came across more.

At 10.30am I was rounding another gate and soon, away in the distance, I could see the tops of the Bridgewater Bridge.

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The walk around the suburb of Herdsmans Cove was uneventful. Lots of bird song beside the path and scattering tiny birds in the long grasses. A brilliant Blue Wren flitting. Mounds of black swans like dark rocks sleeping on the rocky shore. Foreshore Trail signs off and on. Gates to walk around.

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Eventually I was curving back towards the Highway and nearing the bridge over the Jordan River. Initially I was looking across the Jordan River at the suburb of Green Point (part of Bridgewater) –

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Then I was approaching the Bridge.

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A TasWater worker had parked his vehicle and was absorbed in problem solving inside a building alongside the Jordan. Beside him, I took an informal track up and onto the Jordan River Bridge.

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Starting stage 8 of my walk along the Derwent River

My starting point was the jetty half way through Old Beach on the eastern shore, and to reach this from my home in Bellerive on the eastern shore of the Derwent River was not straightforward. There are no direct buses from Bellerive to Old Beach.

Instead, I left home at 6.45am (way too early for my liking but no other choice), passed three Black Cockatoos feasting on a native tree in a private home (one acted as a sentry high up while the others gorged themselves), walked to the Eastlands bus mall and caught the first bus through to the bus mall in Elizabeth St in Hobart’s CBD. At 7.17am the X1 express bus to Glenorchy in the northern suburbs of the Greater Hobart Area (and beyond) departed. This arrived at 7.35am at the Glenorchy bus mall and, anticipating public toilets would be non-existent for my walk, I walked over to the Northgate shopping centre to use their facilities. I was back at the bus mall in time to catch Metro bus 126 to Old Beach which departed at 8am. At 8.20am I stepped off the bus ready for the day.

The sky was overcast and I was wearing a thermal top over my T-shirt and topped with a fleece jacket.  Blowy. Hard air hitting my face.

Since there was no direct water access from the jetty northwards, I walked through the suburban streets staying on the hard concrete footpaths. Plovers and Blackbirds were my constant companions and extravagant blooming roses and wattles perfumed the air. It was rubbish removal day and the streets were lined with bulging large faded red wheelie bins and yellow lidded green bins. The wind had lifted many lids and these were thrown back as if saluting when on parade (a vision that friend Jo exclaimed he saw).

At 8.33am I reached the intersection with the East Derwent Highway and lost a footpath. I turned left and walked beside the highway where it was obvious a few other people had walked but there was no formal pathway. At this point I could see the water of the Derwent River but I was not close. It was clear that property owners had fenced and gated off any access to the River and I need to determine whether they had the right to do this in all cases.  I continued on the Highway noticing the signpost to the Bonorong Wildlife Park and Compton Agistment Centre marking the turn off from the highway away from the River.

Not much further along I saw a track between new houses on the left and followed it then through the grassy bushland but, as lovely as it was, it was impassable offering no easy way to the River and so I had to retrace my steps. At 8.54am I was back on the Highway walking to the left of the guard rails (so that I wasn’t directly on the Highway) on rolling gravel where a path was never intended.  Then the guard rail disappeared so I walked carefully as far off the road on the narrow verge as I could.  Sometimes I walked in the ditch. By 8.58am I was passing Compton Road and at 9.01 I reached Clarrie’s Creek. I began to disrobe as the morning and the exercise began to warm me: off came my thermal top.

The perfume from the flowering wattle trees was invasive and pervasive in the nicest way.  Please feel free to use any of the photos below as a screen saver. I have.

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Continuing along the Highway, I walked up an incline until I could turn left on a bitumen roadway. This was blocked by a gate, but there was walking space around this, used by others. I had reached the newest part of Old Beach on its own rounded headland. Once past the gate I turned left towards the Verve Village site office signs and walked on. Through the mesh fence to my right I could see the Verve café, not open. The time was 9.10am.

Not long afterwards I was snapping photos of the low mountains and hills across the Derwent River on the western shore. Grandly beautiful in a simple way.

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This ‘roadway’ eventually ended at a locked gate but again a regularly padded informal path was clearly visible around the obstacle.  I turned left and 100 metres along, a yellow gravel path appeared. The path had no sign but I hoped it was a foreshore trail and followed it. It was.  A trail with almost no signs of animal life except a massive black furry feral cat bounding away and a sole man out for exercise.  Crows carrhh carrhh carrhhed in the distance and overhead. Casuarina trees edged the path and through them the woodland was open and airy. Water lapped onto the shore. Mudstone rocks edged out of the soil on the banks. I enjoyed a flash of colour when I noticed yellow and orange flowering nasturtiums that had escaped from a suburban garden into the bush.

The photos below show a view southwards to the River from the first 100 metres of the path.

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The foreshore trail was easy to follow, wide and clear.

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At 9.36am I reached the point where the Derwent River and Gage Cove met.

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The trail curved into the Cove but not before a man-made construction, to the right of the path, seemed to flush deep below and then a dreadful stink followed. I tried not to think what was going on there.

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By 9.42am I was walking up into the suburb having enjoyed watching black swans floating around in the Cove, and a few minutes later I reached a gate which, as usual, I walked around.  I turned left and followed the road from the cul de sac amidst the noise of every neighbourhood dog barking to indicate a stranger was nearby.  Me.

At 9.45am I turned left at the T junction and by 9.48am I reached the intersection of Stanfield Drive with the East Derwent Highway.  Continuing on I could look down in Gage Cove with its coating of red algae or some other red plant.

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So far my morning had gone well and I was enjoying myself. Also, I was pleased that I had finished passing through all parts of the suburb of Old Beach and was ready for the next suburb.

Completing the last northern part of Otago Bay suburb – on 7th stage of my walk along the Derwent River

Where I went and where followers should walk are two separate pathways.  I will describe my walk for your amusement, but you should stay on the highway and not deviate as I did. Only a  masochist would take my path.

Having connected back onto the East Derwent Highway from Otago Bay Road I continued walking north. On route I looked north across the Derwent River to the next suburb Old Beach, as shown in the photo below. I loved the yellow/orange/burnt red coloured gazania flowers which grew wildly along many parts of this route.

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Not long afterwards, I reached Murtons Rd and turned left to walk towards the river edge. To my left was the small inlet Woodville Bay. In the photo of the Bay below, I believe the yellow flowers in the foreground are probably part of wild wind-sown canola plants.

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This area seemed very rural and I enjoyed the tufts of wild fennel growing near the edge of the road, the green grassy paddocks and the screaming plovers making it clear I was encroaching on their territory. I was delighted when two black lambs raced down their paddock to greet me, obviously hand-reared and very comfortable with humans.  If I had picked them up over the fence it would probably have been a case of ‘Mary had a little lamb … and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to follow’.  Very cute. Very vocal.

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Further on, a couple of rough looking shetland ponies appeared on the hill above and in a later paddock, horses nibbled slim pastures.

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On my left I had clear views across the Derwent River to the suburb of Old Beach.

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I surprised a pair of native hens scratching in the undergrowth.  My arrival disturbed them so they skittered away.  If you look closely in the photo below you will see one running across the roadway leading to a private property.

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Soon afterwards, the road on which I was walking came to an end.  Ahead of me through the bushes was the barely visible remains of pathways that others, and perhaps animals, had walked very occasionally. I had the choice to step down onto the narrow easy rocky shore or work my way through these paths which were only a little above water level.  You may recall from an earlier blog, that friend Me and I did some advance research on the possibilities for my future walks. This was one cul de sac we reached. Back then the paths were much clearer.  In the few weeks since we investigated, spring rains and rising temperatures have encouraged the plant life to flourish. I was fine clambering over and under fallen trees and branches and avoiding abandoned car tyres and other rubbish, but then the track disappeared under a thicket. Not to be beaten, and never to retreat, I decided to drop down onto the rocks and continue walking along the foreshore.

Around one corner I was surprised to find a pair of duck parents and their totally camouflaged teenager sleeping on the rocks amidst the flotsam and jetsam of human kind. Their retreat to the water was slow and cumbersome. It was almost as if a human being had never passed this way before.

This was okay for a while until I met with a barrier of tree branches cascading into and across the water.  I realised there would be no easy way over or through. Spotting the makings of a rough pathway on the bank, I clambered up. Before long I was practising something like one does with that ‘pick up sticks’ children’s game: I was lifting one spiky branch and pieces of barbed wire off another and standing on others in order to move my way through an ever more tricky brambling landscape. Vaguely in the distance, through the vegetation, I could glimpse a hill which looked like soft grass. A very attractive vista considering my circumstances.  Between me and that escape route was a tangle of wild freely sown long waving branches of thorny roses, and a forest of healthy but spiky blackberry canes, all intertwined. Going back to Murtons Road was not an option I would consider.  So, rather like a snorting pig, and sometimes down on my knees, I edged my way through. It took quite a while. Surprisingly no clothes were ripped and I received only a few slight scratches. Climbing the small hill of weedy and native grasses was comparatively heavenly by comparison. Then I found myself back on the East Derwent Highway and strode off happily a few minutes after 12 noon.

Into and through the suburb of Otago Bay – part of the 7th stage of my walk along the Derwent River

Before long I could see the water of Otago Bay, and I could see the rusty remnants of the two boats, the Otago and the Westralian. In the photo below, the low mountain on the other side of the Derwent is Mount Faulkner.

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Ja and her dog were lively company and walking with her was a big change from my normal solo experiences. We enjoyed photographing each other in this quiet and peaceful place and parted once we reached the interpretative panel near the sunken ribs of the two boats (Westralian on the left and Otago on the right in the photo below).

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I was disappointed that the main point of the interpretative panel was not to talk broadly about the history of both boats but to laud the last Captain of the Otago, the esteemed novelist Joseph Conrad.  Over the road, Conrad Drive wound up the hill into a residential area. It seems the author has become most important.  The Westralian is not mentioned at all so I can only imagine other visitors must leave the site quite puzzled about what they are seeing. In an earlier posting I provided detailed information about the Otago, after which the Bay and suburb have been named. The Westralian was a steam ship abandoned and cut down during the 1930s.

It was 10.40am before I left the boats of Otago Bay. I walked uphill – yet again without a formal pathway so I was alert for cars travelling through. There are always ‘lead foot Larrys’ whose press on the car’s accelerator speeds them through the suburban streets as they veer unexpectedly onto whichever side of the road gives them the shortest path to whatever their destination.  Could be a shortcut to God if they are not careful.

This leafy gum-treed suburb is mostly high above the Derwent River and many of the houses sit with grand views. At one point I could see that I was level with the height of the Bowen Bridge in the distance.  It was not possible to walk around the water’s edge and it was impossible to walk around the edge of the cliffs because access to these has been cut off by the gates and fences of private property.

I stayed walking up and down and then up and then downhill on undulating Otago Bay Road.

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Some houses were located on 5 acre lots. Some parts of the suburb seemed quite rural without any sign of active agricultural businesses. I passed a creek with croaking frogs and others making a soft booming bom bom, bom bom; a repetitive but very musical sound. Wild blackberry canes flourished. Sulphur crested cockatoos screamed through the trees. The sounds of so many other birds reverberated through the bush. Beautiful. Wonderful.

At 11.10am, I noted a left hand road led to accommodation; the Penenjou Bed and Breakfast. I didn’t walk this road but I imagine that tourists staying out here might find the country to be very attractive and peaceful.  Apparently the homestead is located on a hectare of developed gardens overlooking Mount Wellington.

I continued walking along Otago Bay Road, close to and parallel to the Highway.

At the intersection with Restdown Drive reached at 11.18am, a sign pointed to another accommodation option Otago Cottage (http://www.otagocottage.com.au/). Again, knowing this was a No Through Road, I stayed walking along Otago Bay Road.

Looking inland I could see the smallish mound of Mount Direction.  From experience I know that walking tracks on this mountain can be accessed from the Risdon Dam Reserve near to the Prison and Willow Tavern, way back near Risdon Cove.

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I reconnected with the East Derwent Highway at 11.22am, edged the road dodging rain spits, and continued walking northwards.

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