Tag Archives: Geilston Bay

Shag Bay industrial history

 

In earlier posts I directed your attention to the online magazine Tasmanian Geographic .  The latest issue contains a well-researched and lengthy article, ‘Early Recycling at Shag Bay’, on the early industrial history of late 19th and early 20th century of Shag Bay.  Thanks to authors, John and Maria Grist, I now understand more about what I saw as I walked past the detritus scattered around this Bay. I strongly recommend accessing their article for its historical photographs and the fascinating content. Thanks John and Maria – much appreciated.

My long term blog followers may recall the name of Shag Bay but unless you know this part of the Derwent River, its location will remain a puzzle.  Shag Bay is a small inlet on the eastern shore between Geilston Bay and Risdon, and is mostly easily accessible on a dirt track from the Geilston suburb end. My posts from walking around Shag Bay include:  From Geilston Bay to Risdon on Stage 6 of my walk along the Derwent River yesterday ; Reaching Shag Bay as I walked along the Derwent RiverThe Shag Bay and Bedlam Walls area covers much loved and used aboriginal land of the Moomairremener people ; and Along the northern side of Shag Bay and onwards along the Derwent River.

To help you to remember Shag Bay, here are a few photos I took way back very early in my trek from the mouth the source of the Derwent River.

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Nature is cheaper than therapy

A Californian fiction writer M.P. Zarrella offered the opinion ‘nature is cheaper than therapy’.  Since then, her point of view has spawned posters, cushion covers, and T shirts such as:

Nature cheaper than therapy  and tshirt nature its cheaper than therapy

The use of this comment spread until people couldn’t help themselves …

facebook cheaper than therapy and Beer is cheaper than therapy

Thinking about whether nature is cheaper (with the inference of ‘better’ than therapy), I have been inspired to trawl through my walking-the-derwent photos.

Here are a few favourite natural scenes clicked during Stages 1-6 of my walks along the eastern shore of the Derwent River.  Most of these images spent time as my computer screen background where they lifted my spirits daily.

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Iron Pot off the southern end of South Arm peninsula

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Driftwood beach shack on Pot Bay Beach, South Arm peninsula

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Mount Wellington across the Derwent River from South Arm Beach

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Looking northwards into the gigantic Derwent Harbour from Gellibrand Point at the northern end of the South Arm peninsula.

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Looking uphill from Trywork Point

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Lichen on rocks at Tranmere Point

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Little Howrah Beach

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Looking southwards along Bellerive Beach

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The suburb of Sandy Bay across the Derwent River through the casuarina trees from Rosny Point

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Tranquil Geilston Bay looking toward Mount Wellington

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Bedlam Walls Point

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Shag Bay

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Native flowers in the East Risdon State Reserve

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Tommys Bight

Whenever the weather is deteriorating outside my window, by looking at these photographs from the first 6 of 14 walking stages, I ‘revisit’ the various locations and feel most uplifted. No therapy needed here.

My first walking story video

Thanks to Lara Van Raay, Producer with ABC Open for southern Tasmania, I completed a 3 hour workshop devoted to editing a series of brief video shots that I collected during the week. When long-term blog followers look at my final video story, they may recognise the location. I covered this area in stage 5 of my walk along the Derwent River, when I walked from Rosny Point to Geilston Bay.

This video can be seen at https://vimeo.com/122073284 or

https://open.abc.net.au/explore/14ov5vx

I used VideoPad by NCH Software (http://www.nchsoftware.com/videopad/) for sequencing and editing the video clips. This is freely downloadable. I found it easy to use initially and even easier after taking time to watch some of the excellent and simple online tutorials.

Once the video was complete I uploaded it onto Vimeo (which, unlike You Tube, isn’t a site with advertisements). From Vimeo, I have added the video story to ABC Open’s projects ‘where you will find me’ category (refer https://open.abc.net.au/explore/14ov5vx).  If you are Australian and write stories or make video stories, you can find a place to upload them onto the ABC Open site; it is one way of sharing experiences around our country.

This is my first attempt at story creation in video and I recognise both my filming and editing are very rough around the edges.  Nevertheless, everyone has to start somewhere. During the coming winter months when I cannot continue my walking in the centre of Tasmania because of miserable weather conditions, I may use the opportunity to work on story lines with locations closer to home.

Happy viewing!

On the long and winding road through the Tinderbox area.

The morning had hardly begun when, a little after 9am, I started walking southwards along the Tinderbox Road, knowing that most of the way would not be and could not be directly next to the Derwent River.

In this area, with the exception of the occasional house surrounded closely by bush (I did imagine most of these households placed their trust against bushfires/wildfires in hope and household insurance), there is no way for easy access to the cliff edges, and there is no track along the top.  I did not think it worth the risk to walk alone in an isolated bush area a long way from a road or houses. I have no doubt it is possible to walk more closely to the Derwent River, but doing so would  not be a smart idea.

No track, pavement or pathway exists beside the two lane Tinderbox Road. Throughout the day I walked on the road when no traffic was in sight or within hearing and I stepped along the verges (where there were any) when traffic was approaching.  Thankfully, there were very few cars and sometimes 10 or 15 minutes would elapse without a vehicle on the road.

The most disturbing vision for the day was a fresh road kill; the glistening innards of a young native animal, a Common Ring Tailed Possum, spread across the road and barely connected to the main body. These possums normally go out for their hunting during the evening and this fellow must have been racing home to bed when struck by a car racing down the road.  The image of a ring tailed possum below was created by Greg Hughes of arrowfire.deviantart.com at http://www.deviantart.com/art/Ringtail-Possum-344619937.

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On the upside, I was delighted to have a close encounter with a group of 6 large native Green Rosella birds. My good fortune to see these grand birds at close quarters occurred because the noise of two vehicles crossing paths from the two different directions made the birds comfortable and they did not hear my scrunching sounds as I walked on the roadside gravel. I stopped mid step as soon as I saw these heavy birds. During my walk from Geilston Bay to Risdon, I had the privilege of seeing a couple of these birds close by (read the posting From Risdon to Tommy’s Bight via Porters Bay and finally to the bus stop).  Anywhere on the web, photographs of Green Rosellas can be found easily, however they all emphasise the lime green yellow throats as the main colour. In my experience, their deep green camouflaging backs defines their character.

So … what were the birds doing as I watched them (one was employed only a metre away)? They were snacking on ripe blackberries and loving every moment of it.  Inadvertently I moved a foot and the grating sound surprised them.  The small pack of large Green Rosellas rose from the bushes and, in a flash of blue edged tails, were gone. What a thrill to see them: such private birds. Later a local dismissed my excitement. ‘They are everywhere here, and they try and get my blackberries before me as I work along the canes picking them’, she said.

Leaving home last Friday towards the start of Stage 7 of my walk along the Derwent

From my house early morning, I could see a mirror sheen across the Derwent River. This promised a great day for walking and so I was eager to get going.  Unfortunately the bus service to the area I was starting from departs only every couple of hours. Eventually I caught the Metro bus 694 when it passed through the Eastlands Shopping Centre bus mall at 9.13am.

The bus passed through upper Lindisfarne as it headed along the East Derwent Highway. When I looked left across the Derwent River, my view of the top of the mountain was cut off by a thick resting white cloud. The roads were calm. People were at work and kids at school. When we passed Geilston Bay I could the water was serenely flat. By this point, I was the only passenger on the bus and felt luxuriously chauffeured.  We detoured for a scenic view through the upper Geilston Bay residential area, then back to the highway.  As we travelled onwards, I noted the start of the trail to Bedlam Walls which I had walked previously, then the electricity pylons and fire trails marking the East Risdon State Reserve. The Willows Tavern loomed on the left and on the right hand side of the highway I glimpsed the starkness of the barb wired fencing of the state Prison.

At the roundabout (where I wanted to go left) the bus turned right to travel through the suburb of Risdon Vale.  Lots of small weatherboard houses and lawns with a few bushes rather than complex luscious gardens. ‘Donut’ burnout tyre marks on the intersections of roads. Rooves needing paint.  Neat and tidy. Streets prettily named after plants: Spinifex, Sycamore, Lindon (although Lindon Park had no Lindon trees), Poplar, Heather, Banksia, Kerria, Hawthorn, Marlock, Gardenia, Lantana and Holly.

Side view of the mountain: I marvelled at the speed with which clouds were being pushed across the top of the mountain southwards.

At 9.39 I was off the bus just before the junction of Saundersons Road, Risdon with the East Derwent Highway.  This is on the southern side of Risdon Cove. Around the corner of the road in the photo below, I could look over the railing in the direction of the Derwent River.

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I walked to that distant railing and realised that walking on the road would be very dangerous with traffic speeding on the narrow lanes.  I legged it over the railing and walked on the River side. The photo below is one of my first views.  Note the pair of black swans.

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No longer did I have Mount Wellington as my standard backdrop across the water. In the photos above, the elevated section on the other side of the Derwent River (above the Bowen Bridge) is the Mount Faulkner Conservation Area.

The Shag Bay and Bedlam Walls area covers much loved and used aboriginal land of the Moomairremener people

Various websites have indicated that the tract of land between Geilston Bay and Risdon Cove contains a great deal of evidence of land and river use by the original land owners.

Previously I acknowledged the traditional owners of the land along the Derwent River that I have been walking across. This land, before European settlement, belonged to the Moomairremener people however the early international settlers failed to understand that the local inhabitants had established government practices and legal systems, and worked with the land and sea to ensure an ongoing food supply. Unfortunately the characteristics which made the indigenous people civilised were different to those characteristics which made the settlers civilised. Because of their major cultural differences, both groups of people couldn’t grasp the positive values of each other. Each failed to learn from the other so that neither came to an understanding that the difference between them did not make one group better or worse.  As the new settlers encroached on aboriginal land and hunting grounds without understanding the value and significance of what they were doing and attacked aboriginal people, inevitably the Moomairremener people attacked in return.

Bedlam Walls Point’s aboriginal cave, middens and quarry were the main features of aboriginal occupation that I expected to access during my walk. Regrettably I did not find the cave or the middens but I did see, at a distance, the quarry.  Another walk is needed to take more time to access these additional sites.

All the above are in easy walking distance of the site (Risdon Cove) at which, according to one story, an Aboriginal band hunting kangaroos was mistaken by whites for attackers and massacred (http://fieldnotestasmania.blogspot.com.au/2009/11/bedlam-walls-walk.html). According to http://www.australianhistorymysteries.info/pdfs/StudiesAHM-1.pdf “On 3 May 1804 there was a violent clash between a group of British settlers and a large party of Aboriginal people at Risdon Cove, near Hobart in Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land). Different writers and historians have given varying accounts of what happened then.”  In my view, neither option expressed on this website does any credit to the early settlers.

I cannot help thinking about the ongoing contemporary parallels where governments provoke fear by urging our populations to be vigilant against others who dress or look different. I cannot see this is a helpful way to learn to understand the benefits that different people can bring to all our lives.

Bird song on the track along the Derwent River

A glorious soundscape within a fresh and embracing landscape was my reward for Stage 6 walking along the Derwent River.

As I left the bus and began to walk along the marked gravel pathway nearby, a sulphur crested cockatoo screeched overhead. It was easy to enjoy the sunlit stand of poplar trees then Peppermint gum trees and other vegetation surrounding me.  Geilston Creek, with its paddling ducks, wound its way towards Geilston Bay on my right.

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The further I walked the more bird song I heard and the more native birds showed their colours. First I noticed a pair of pardalotes, then Jenny Wren and her mate the divine Blue Wren both collecting a meal of insects from the path ahead. To my left were sports ovals and tennis courts. 10 minutes after leaving the bus I reached a new walking bridge over the creek near the edge of Geilston Bay, garlanded by large flowering wattle trees at the entrance.

Once over the bridge I turned left onto a road, with a series of dinghy lockers visible on the other side of the creek, then a couple of minutes later the Bay was clear on my left and the last houses before the bush started were located up on the right. The track to Shag Bay started 15 minutes after I left the bus. Despite no breeze I felt the cold air hard on my face. But the air was deliciously clean, the environment pristine after the rain overnight, and the tranquillity of the vistas was sublime.

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The official sign in the photo above, which was located at the beginning of the track, includes a map showing the way to Shag Bay and on to Bedlam Walls. I trekked gently uphill parallel to Geilston Bay on an undulating gravel track and around me all manner of birds sang, whistled, chirped and squawked. An ornithologist would be able to identify those sounds, but mostly I needed to rely on seeing these feathered friends of the bush.  The sounds were inspiringly musical. It was a feast for the ears. I spotted a Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike.

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The photo above show where I had walked from: it looks down the track with Geilston Bay on the right.

Along the way, unofficial tracks led down to the water.  On this walk I had hoped to locate the known aboriginal cave but alas, I was unlucky.  I suspect one of those tracks would have led to it, and so I will return another day for further exploration. Previous research had indicated that our Parks and Wildlife Service government department no longer can afford the upkeep and safety practices that are associated with this cave, and that somewhere there are stairs to descend to the cave and a locked gate to prevent entry. Other bloggers have indicated this gate is easily climbed if you are prepared to take the responsibility to accept all risks. As yet I have no idea if Trespassers Prosecuted signs are in place for that location. A clear photo of the cave is available at: http://tastrails.com/shag-bay-heritage-walk/tastrails_shagbay_bedlamwalls/

At 10.05am I reached a split path and took the left hand route. The occasional gum tree was surrounded by open grassland containing frequent clumps of one of our native plants the Diplarrena Moraea, spiked with their white blooms. Tree roots slithered across the path creating a tripping hazard, so I walked slowly in order to absorb the views. At a second split in the path, again I took the left hand track.  This meandered downhill on slippery gravel under old Casuarina trees to the water’s edge. At 10.10am I stood on the rocky shore at Bedlam Walls Point.

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From the foreshore at Bedlam Walls Point, I looked across the Derwent River northwards to the industrial business ‘Nystar’ which edges part of the western shore of the river; a large zinc and lead smelting and alloying operation.

The photo below is also taken from Bedlam Walls Point and looks southwards. The headland on the left is the Lime Kiln Point marking the other entrance into Geilston Bay. Further afield the Tasman Bridge spans the Derwent River.

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Before I left the Point, I watched a few pieces of river traffic: cormorants diving for their fish dinners, the MONA catamaran, fishing boats, and the sailing yachts.

Generally tranquillity reigned. Then for a while, I walked the rocky edge back into Geilston Bay a little then retraced my steps again to walk around the Point and along the Derwent River edge hoping to find the cave.  Once it was obvious success with this search wasn’t likely, I clambered up the hill. By 10.25am, I was standing on top of a cliff on a little used unofficial track. I continued to walk along northwards and up the gentle hill with the intention of rejoining the official track. Before then, however, I came across an infrequently used 4 wheel drive ‘road’ and followed this instead. The main path was only 20 or so metres further inland. By continuing on the ‘road’ I walked closer to the River and found the experience very pleasant.  There were no other people, and no signs of native animals. Only beautiful bird song.