Tag Archives: GASP

The Fall of the Derwent

Early during my walk along Tasmania’s Derwent River from the mouth to the source, I was travelling near Repulse Dam on a reconnaissance trip when I came across two others.  It was a strange experience.  Previously I had become aware that two women planned, with assistance and support from others, and with the direct engagement of specific groups of people in some parts, to walk from the mouth to the source.  That day, as Andrew and I drove around for me to suss the landscape and the walking route options, when I saw two women seeming to do the same, we stopped them and I asked questions.  ‘Yes we are those women’, said Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward.  I am sure they were as surprised as I was.

Since then, Justy and Margaret have made their way alongside various parts of Tasmania’s Derwent River and arrived at Lake St Clair where they were Facebooked taking a dip in those cold waters, seemingly delighted with their arrival.

Their project was very different from mine.  In my case, I wanted to walk around the whole of the Greater Hobart Area, and then to walk every metre of the way to the source at St Clair Lagoon dam.   By contrast, Justy and Margaret walked alongside parts of two Derwent Rivers; Tasmania’s Derwent River and the other in Cumbria England.  The experience of and learnings from their walks were used as part of the basis to write what they describe as a ‘fictionella’; written in the form of text artwork, similar in appearance to poetry.

That book is titled Fall of the Derwent. In this website you can see  range of photographs including two where Justy and Margaret are holding their black covered book.

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The title of the book references a drawing by an early Tasmanian surveyor George Frankland which he named ‘Fall of the Derwent’.  Colonial artist Thomas Bock engraved the image and James Ross printed the picture in The Hobart Town Almanac in 1830. The picture was drawn at a site near unpassable rapids on the Derwent River upriver from New Norfolk.  When Justy and Margaret walked past what they believed was that place, they took a suite of black and white photographs;  half a dozen or so of these images are bound into their book.  Without returning to that area I seem to remember the spot.  After reviewing my photographs in that area, clearly I was looking for serenity and simplicity.  I was looking at colours and contrasts.  It seems I was focusing on one way of seeing that world of the Derwent River, and Justy and Margaret’s view is an alternative.20150917_094036.jpg

20150917_095352.jpgI did not focus on the twisted interlacing of stark and scrappy vegetation at the river edge like Justy and Margaret have done  The differences in our images is a reflection on the different nature of our projects. I wanted to entice others to be seduced by the beauty of the landscape and then to make their own journeys along the river edge (I now wonder why I didn’t see vegetation tangles as beautiful).  When I read their book it seemed they wanted to use their experiences as the basis for creative abstract thoughts; perhaps even a metaphysical approach involving questions such what is there in that world and what is it like at a more profound level.  My approach was literal and descriptive.

The Phillips/Woodward Fall of the Derwent publication presents poetry-styled ideas and comments in ‘chapters’ headed by the days of the week; the book proceeds over  44 days consecutive days – but the ideas associated with both rivers are intermixed.

“Let us begin with two rivers / And a Dad not long for living. / Two daughters …”

Despite the introductory lines, theirs is not a chronological story connecting the sequences of walking the two rivers; reference is made to other locations such as Cape Barren Island, Dover Point, and Brisbane. And the English father walked with Justy and Margaret when they traipsed near the Cumbrian Derwent. As an intertwined overlay in this book, mention is made of his declining health – Dad in pain, no longer able to feed himself, no longer speaking.  For this reason and for the manner of writing which removes easily identifiable meaning through much of the publication, this book has a limited audience and is obviously a set of personal ideas to be understood, remembered and perhaps loved by the authors. For their personal satisfaction. I was surprised that this book uses combinations of words that do not create, for most of the book,  visual images of either of the two rivers. Instead, the poetry reads as a meshing of many experiences which presumably helps Phillips/Woodward to reconstruct a feel of those experiences.

On occasion, where the meaning was clear because I could recognise specific locations, I enjoyed some of the lines. For example, “…rows of hops that string this neck of the river…” referred to the hop vines and their structural strings in the Bushy Park area.  These hop fields obviously made a significant impression on Justy and Margaret because there was a second comment on the same topic; “…the hops in single file march orderly disruption to the valley.”  Then, when they walked around the Wayatinah Power Station, “…the woodstave pipeline is a blistering gland … Draws the corset of her breathing”.  Like Justy and Margaret, I looked in awe at these two locations and their dramatic impact was described during my posts.  To remind you – here are photos of the hop fields and others of the wooden pipeline.   20150918_104145.jpg

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DSC01655e.jpgJusty and Margaret learnt in Cumbria; “On the banks of the River Derwent, that the term ‘black market’ is born. Through the illegal trading of graphite.”  Then they found graphite was part of the geological structure at Wayatinah on Tasmania’s Derwent.  From these findings, grew the idea to play with ‘black’; the book’s cover is black, some copies are cloth bound and impregnated with carbon powder, the Fall of the Derwent and ‘black’ are interconnected within the text, and one section of the book presents a list of locations along Tasmania’s Derwent which include ‘black’ in the name; examples include Black Bob’s Rivulet and Blackmans Bay.

Phillips/Woodward’s book Fall of the Derwent was part of a public artwork presented in association with GASP (Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park) in 2016. Further information can be accessed here. If you click on ‘Download Hydrographic Score’ you will be able to read the book online.

Blogs can connect people purposefully and with pleasure

Some people refer to social media as a force which separates people, however in my experience I see it brings people together. Through my blog I have ‘met’ interesting people with whom I might not otherwise have connected and I have learnt a great deal.  My blog has introduced me to a world of wonderful ideas, beautiful environments, and to people who demonstrate they are vitally alive.  Every day I love to open my laptop and check who has sent me a comment or an email or to discover and read a recent blog posting by someone I am following.

Earlier this year, blogger Denise from upstate New York emailed to tell me she was coming to Tasmania and would love to walk in one of the locations I had previously written up.  This started what has now developed into a strong online relationship.  Eventually we met and walked when she visited Tasmania.

Denise at MONA 2015

The photo above shows Denise heading off towards the car park. It was the end of the day after we had walked from GASP (Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park), lunched at MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), checked out the current exhibitions, and realised it was time to travel home.

This November has been a special month for Denise because she decided to highlight special people in her life: she selected 30 people and wrote a daily post throughout November. I was immensely surprised when she added me in. Denise’s post can be read on her blog ‘Dee Scribes’  When you have read this, you may like to read some of her earlier postings.  As a thoughtful, intelligent and articulate advocate for redefining disability, she is second to none.  Denise is a professional with  humour and flair.  I have learnt so much more by reading her blog posts. Thank you Denise.

The euphoria continues

Yesterday a friend An drove me up along the Derwent River where we stopped off at a few dams, power stations and lakes. I was studying the terrain at ground level (our most recent Service Tasmania maps are aged and Google Earth photos are not current either), seeing where forestry and hydro tracks existed and determining where I will need to make my way through bush ‘with walls’. I can see a line of fiction here – turning an almost impassable density of bush into a character (an evil character – even though the bush is sublimely beautiful and bountiful) that has to be overcome.  My strategy will be as always, one slow step at a time and then the bush won’t even know I have come and gone (although my muscles will).

I walked some small sections yesterday, but I won’t write them up until I have walked in the areas westwards from Gretna to those sections.  I know now that it is difficult for some local readers to understand where I have been and therefore, if I change the blog posts from being a chronological record, it may be even more unclear.  Besides, by writing the stories in order and finishing with the last walk to the source it will be clear I have walked the Derwent.

Yesterday explorations and walks were as uplifting as the previous day’s flight; it was as equally wonderful, just different.  I feel gushy with delight when I am in the bush on a blue sky day, with no wind, and with a temp that rises sufficiently but not so that I boil.  Once I am sitting on rocks in the river bed with my lunch, listening to the birds, and sensing the spirit of the place, my life feels so right.  This is the place for me.

Then, despite the day’s experiences already being a treat, life added a new wonderful surprise.  Recently one of my blog followers, Justy, alerted me to the fact she and her partner were engaged in creating a new work of art for GASP beside the Derwent River at Glenorchy, a city in the Greater Hobart Area.  As part of their project, they had already walked along the Derwent River in Cumbria, England and now were planning to walk from the sea to the source of the Derwent early next year.  I hadn’t met them and only communicated a few times by email.  But yesterday, as An drove me towards Cluny Dam, I saw two women step from their car.  I waved and smiled as you do on a country road. As we drove on, I said to An “I bet they’re the two women who are engaged in the GASP project, out conducting a reconnaissance trip”. There was no reason to believe this except I felt I knew it to be the truth (the bush works its miracles). Nevertheless we continued on and had parked near the northern end of Cluny Lagoon when the two women drove past us. Again we waved. On a later road we found ourselves coming towards each other from opposite directions, so An waved them to a stop. The women looked at us queryingly. “Are either of you Justy or Margaret? we asked.” “Yes”, they responded. Instantly I called out, “I’m Helen”.  Their nod of acknowledgement followed. And then we all poured out of our cars, and hugged and had a lively chat standing on a dusty road in strong Spring sunlight. It was a brilliant unexpected meeting and capped off what had been a day of immense discovery and pleasure.

Best wishes for your project Justy and Margaret!

Walking the Back Roads

My upstate New Yorker blog follower (https://deescribesblog.wordpress.com/about) who came to Tasmania recently and walked with me along GASP to MONA, alerted me to the blogsite (https://walkingbackroads.wordpress.com/about/) re “Walking the Back Roads: A Hundred Years from Philadelphia to New Hampshire“.   She recognised my broad interest in people who decide to walk paths that are not normally walked. Thank you.  I love followers alerting me to such sites.

The walking the backroads blogsite has been inspired by a range of different books written by walkers of the highways and backroads of America through the 19th century. The blogger examines their stories.  He refers to the walk which he undertakes as ‘the long walk home’. Very interesting.

The concept of walking on backroads is instantly appealing to me. I wonder how many backroads exist which connect with Tasmania’s Derwent River in some way. I guess there may be hundreds and that they would all lead to interesting, mostly remote places. I imagine our backroads would peter out into bushland where sheep or cattle graze, rabbits multiply, indigenous wombats might run, Tasmanian devils fight for scraps of native food, or wallabies roam.

Suddenly the question comes to me; what is the definition of a backroad? When is a road no longer a main road? Is it a matter of how many people live along its edges?  Is it a matter of how many vehicles use it? Is it a matter of the road being unknown to the majority of the surrounding population? Is it possible to have a backroad in city areas or can they only be found in rural areas? Or are backroads, roads which are out of the way, difficult to find, and often not on maps?  And does a vehicular unsealed track count as a backroad?

In other words, how would I know if I was on a backroad? Is it sufficient that I make the decision?  Guess it would be. And I guess the locals may not refer to their road as a backroad even when I might.

Reliving GASP and MONA with a new walk along the Derwent River

On Stages 9 and 10 of my walk along the Derwent River, I passed the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park (GASP).  Yesterday I had the opportunity to introduce two international visitors to these important arts structures.

Mid-morning I met with a follower of my blog, De from upstate New York and her Arizona cousin Ke as we were chauffeured thanks to Ma, from the centre of Hobart to our starting point near the Derwent Entertainment Centre.

Our excursion started from the Pavilion at the southern end of the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park (GASP) near the Derwent Entertainment Centre.  Do you remember my photos of that surprise pink glass wall?

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From a distance and approaching this structure, it looks dull, industrial and disused. But just as I had felt during my walk, my two new international co-walkers were amazed once we arrived at the site. Quite delightful and I have no doubt De will be displaying her own photos on https://deescribesblog.wordpress.com/ when she has time.

Then we started strolling and rolling along the bike/pedestrian path towards the slatted walkways with their colourful striped edges.  Many photos were clicked every time we reached a new striped walkway with a different set of colours.

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De gets around in a motorised wheelchair so when she spotted a scooter with its dinghy trailer (see photo below) waiting for its owner to return from their boat out on the Derwent River, she stopped in amazement. We talked about how good security seemed to be locally.  The scooter owner had left his/her shoes, helmet and other personal items, and despite a security strap set up to prevent movement, we all knew that enterprising thieves seem to carry bolt cutters with them these days.  But all was well yesterday.

scooter

Gradually clouds disappeared, the mountain looked sharp and much of the sky was blue.

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Glorious.  After a very cold North American winter, De soaked up the sunshine as the day warmed and we did everything to stay outdoors that we could.

We continued along the foreshore and turned towards the highway when we reached the Montrose High School. Then we were onto the bike/pedestrian track past Rosetta and into Berriedale before advancing up the entrance incline to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).  Along the way we admired the new autumnal colours of the Moorilla grape vines beside the road.

Vineyards

A visit to the exhibitions at MONA requires descent into cavernous spaces below ground so we decided to enjoy a lunch break first.  Despite the busyiness of the café directly above the museum, De motored through gaps in the visitors and took us outside into the open air where tables and chairs are set on the lawn. We admired great views up, down and across the Derwent River.

Our sparkling Moorilla wines were crisp and delicious, and the food choices were expansive.  De and I settled on a soba noodle with spring peas and pickled ginger salad, and Ke tucked into an Italian summer salad which included a great variety of ingredients dressed with the best local olive oil. Ducks and peacocks were out and about, seemingly comfortable with the thousands of visitors that come to MONA each week.

Satisfied by lunch we returned inside and took the lift to the bottom floor of MONA. Over the next couple of hours we wandered through the three levels of exhibits before De and Ke found the upstairs bookshop. The wonderful conclusion to our visit came when De spotted a spectacle outside.  They left the building and, along with a throng of tourists, took photographs of a huge unblemished and bright rainbow crossing over the entire River.

It was a great pleasure to show non-Tasmanians a small part of where I have been along the Derwent River, and De and Ke’s enjoyment enhanced mine. Thanks for your company and best wishes De for your conference presentation in Burnie tomorrow encouraging people to understand there are few limits other than those we set ourselves.

Denise leaving MONA

Both De and Ke gave me permission to include their photos in this blog.

International traveller may join me for a walk

A few months ago I was excited when a blog follower from upstate New York, told me she was coming to Tasmania and would love to take a walk with me to see some of the sites I have shown in my postings.  With increasing anticipation we have corresponded and now I expect her arrival this week. Sometime around midweek we expect to undertake a comparatively short ‘stroll’ from the southern end of the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park (GASP) over the wonderful striped edged walkways over the edge of the Derwent River.   Do you remember them? For example,

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and

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Then we will head northwards into Berridale and on to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) with all its fascinations.  Perhaps we won’t be able to get away but if we do, there is always the possibility we might continue on to Cadburys chocolate factory. This doesn’t seem too shabby an itinerary.  What do you think?

Of course we will exercise our right to choose somewhere else to walk if we wish.

If anyone else is visiting and wants to relive a section of the edge of the Derwent River over which I have passed, please email me on walkingthederwent@gmail.com.

Fossil Cove Road T junction with the Tinderbox Road

Close to 9.30am I reached the left hand turn of Fossil Cove Road.

My final decision to proceed to Pearsons Point was made at that juncture.  My reason for wanting to walk to Fossil Cove is that it is on the Derwent River and I would be able to appreciate another part of the River’s western shoreline.  By my reckoning, and never having been down the road to check the situation, I believed the return walk would cover 3-4 kilometres and include steep hills. I thought that if my feet were holding up after I reached Pearsons Point and had returned back to this road then I could finish off the day’s Stage with a walk to see the fossils.  Alas … my feet were not ready for this on the return trip (I still had the walk from there back to a Blackmans Bay bus stop to consider) so I will visit another day to make this deviation from Tinderbox Road.

Including this future walk, I count three additional walks I have promised to do, in order to cover a little more of the Derwent River shoreline. I will return to the area between GASP (Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park) and Goodwood on the other side of the Bowen Bridge.  I will find out if I can make special arrangements to visit the industrial property of Nystar which sits against a significant length of the Derwent River.  And finally I will return to walk to the fossils at the end of a track at the end of a road off Tinderbox Road.  Most likely these walks will be undertaken on good weather days in winter when walking inland towards Lake St Clair is impossible because of extreme weather conditions.