Will the real Derwent River please stand up! Where should a person walk if they are ‘walking the Derwent’?
Since the Clark Dam was built in 1952, the Derwent River has not flowed from the area now known as Lake King William downstream across its original bed, until closer to Hobart. Instead the Tarraleah Canals number 1 and 2 accept Derwent River water from Clark Dam/Lake King William at Butlers Gorge in central Tasmania. These canals channel the water to penstocks that feed the Tarraleah Power Station. Electricity is generated and then the water flows on to create more electricity at Liapootah then Wayatinah Power Stations. Eventually the water empties into Lake Catagunya.
The old Derwent River bed is stony. Along its length between Clark Dam and the bridge at Wayatinah, seepage from the steep hills creates pools of water. There is sufficient water, although limited, to create a continuous running flow between the stones. At the end of Spring the river bed looking upstream from Wayatinah was as follows:
Michelle’s photo shows another view.
In January the water level had dropped and the river bed looked like …
Similarly, between the bridge over the Derwent River bed at Wayatinah and the river’s meeting with the Florentine River, and downstream almost to Lake Catagunya, the river is often a stony bed with limited flow.
Upstream from the junction of the Florentine and Derwent Rivers, upstream from the Wayatinah Power Station, I walked on the river bed where I could.
To ‘walk the Derwent’ should one follow the original river bed or the Canals or a mix of both?
Since Tarraleah Canal number 1 runs more or less parallel to the old river bed and is usually located under 500 metres from that river bed, I chose to walk next to the Canal along the section before it turned inland to travel to Tarraleah Power Station. I rather liked the idea of staying as close to the original Derwent River course rather than following man-made deviations. However this ‘walkingthederwent’ project does raise the question as to what constitutes the ‘real’ Derwent River. Does it exist any longer? And therefore, is it possible to walk the Derwent?