Tag Archives: Geilston Creek

Reaching Shag Bay as I walked along the Derwent River

From Bedlam Walls Point, tracks meandered northward and before long a large quarry was visible on the other side of Shag Bay. At its base I could see the rusting remnants of machinery parts.

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Descending to Shag Bay at this point seemed perilous so I turned right and found tracks moving inland parallel to the Bay.  Fresh wallaby poo beside the track: black olive sized and shaped, glistening in the sun. I did not see the wallaby which undoubtedly would be looking elsewhere for a midday shady rest spot. Large grey-brown fantailed birds darted amongst the trees.

I was back on the main track at 10.45am and a couple of minutes later reached a sign marking the start of the East Risdon State Reserve (dogs prohibited, even on leads). The deep dark brown green water of Shag Bay rested liked a solid plane behind the sign. Very seductive.  Once at the water’s edge I was surprised how clear the water was except for the natural colouring and tannins from native plants.

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I stepped carefully down the rocky crumbling path to the Bay.

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The quality of light was extraordinary. Rain during the night had cleared the air and the colours of the landscape were clear. I reached the bottom next to the water’s edge of Shag Bay after a further five minutes, and breathed in my surrounds, feeling very joyful to have such easy access to this beautiful environment.

Temporarily I was startled by the spectacle of a massive White Bellied Sea Eagle flying up and down Shag Bay. I stood spellbound unable to move to click a photograph.  Have a look at the photo on http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=5115 and see the large fish in the eagle’s talons. It wasn’t long before a large (but much smaller than the eagle) black bird came and swooped at the eagle to drive it away.  It’s not an easy life for these birds; they have no rest.

As I continued along the foot of the Bay, I came across an old rusting boiler up on the rocks, a massive lump of concrete, and other rusting metal in the water and around about.

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A couple of minutes before 11am I reached the boiler used as part of a blood and bone factory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, shown in the photos above, then a few minutes later I reached the curve of the Bay and could see a second old boiler partly obscured by the bush.  Apparently the Tasmanian Fertiliser Company was operating here for many years until a massive boiler explosion caused death and destruction resulting in the business folding. You can read the records of the inquest at http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/10403147.

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Looking down the Bay, past two fishermen in their outboard motored runabout, I soaked in the view of the western shore of the Derwent River with Mount Wellington rising above it. Hardly any air movement and the temperature was cool enough to make standing in the sun a comfortable delight.

Prior to the walk I did uncover information (http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=1799) that Shag Bay was used for the demolition of boats such as the HMS Nelson in 1926. The photo below is from the collection of the State Library of Tasmania.

abandonedHMS Nelson Shag Bay

I saw no evidence of boat demolition during my walk around Shag Bay, however on a second visit if I investigate the quarry maybe I will find materials of interest.

The Clarence City Council (http://www.ccc.tas.gov.au/page.aspx?u=1487) suggests the 3km round trip from

Geilston Bay to Shag Bay will take 45 minutes (although another website suggests an hour and a half for the return trip). I took considerably longer by following unofficial tracks and taking time to observe the land around me as I walked. Apart from the two fishermen on the Bay there was not a soul around. I cannot recommend this walk too strongly. Everything about the walk and the location is attractive so I hope people living in Hobart will take themselves out to Geilston Bay and make their own discoveries.  The website at http://highteawithhominids.squarespace.com/ancient-humans/2011/8/19/bedlam-walls-a-walk-in-tasmania.html provides additional details which may help locate some of the historical sites that I missed.

Also on the Clarence City Council website, the claims are made that the track is well signposted. This is not true.  I saw three signs only: Geilston Creek track from the bus stop, Bedlam Walls sign including a map to Shag Bay at the start of the track, and the East Risdon State Reserve billboard close to Shag Bay. Considering the myriad of unofficial tracks that will attract the attention of many walkers, if you wander aimlessly, you will need to remember to keep the river on your left as you walk north to Shag Bay and on your right when you return to Geilston Bay.  I do not recall seeing any signs at Shag Bay so I missed the aboriginal midden and quarry.

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.