Tag Archives: Granton

Celebrating 200 years of ferries on the Derwent River

The Eastern Shore Sun newspaper for December 2016 provided a community news story which added to the knowledge of the history of ferries plying Derwent River waters.  Turn to Page 11 for the full story and photo.

Two hundred years ago the first licenced ferry travelled from the fledgling township of Hobart across to the eastern shore to a place very close to where I live. The landscape would have been so different; trees would have covered the area where my house now stands.  I wonder if the weather was as warm and pleasant as it has been in the past few weeks around the Greater Hobart area – even exceeding 30 degrees.  Wind is a constant across Tasmania, and the early ferries would have needed skilled personnel to bring their craft safely across the expanse of water and into moorings – especially considering the fact that early vessels were rowed across the river.

Earlier postings on my blog introduced some information about the Derwent ferries, and this latest article supplements what I have offered previously.  While you can search the blog for many posts that mention ferries,  key posts are Ferries on the Derwent River and Historic Granton Tasmania .

Unspeakables. Unmentionables.

Where ever we walk some sort of crime is likely to have been committed in past years, centuries, or millennia – that is, if the concept of crime is part of the culture.

In the past week, Tasmanian police have been hopeful for a breakthrough in the search for Lucille Butterworth, a young woman who has been missing for almost half a century, believed murdered.  Reports indicate that police ‘have the best lead yet with credible new information leading them to the lonely gravelled roadside area 8.5km from the Granton turn-off on the Lyell Highway’. The location is next to the Derwent River.

Having seen the latest news media photos, I remember walking this section of the road on my jaunt from Granton to New Norfolk. It was the section where no road verge offered protection from the traffic and I needed to walk on the tarmac.  No sign of human habitation.  Only vehicles with their racing drivers charging along the highway.  I had no clairvoyant moments that day – I never felt the presence of anyone interred in the land nearby.  But I hope the scientific and systematic exploration of the area between the road and the Derwent River will bring answers to the many questions which the family have lived with for decades.

Lucille disappeared at a time in history preceding the invasion of mobile phones.  By all accounts she waited for a public bus in Hobart’s northern suburbs but the bus never arrived so she accepted a ride with someone in a passing car.  These days, a person in a similar situation would simply phone a friend or a relative for help.

Should a blog reader have more information about Lucille Butterworth’s disappearance please contact Tasmania Police.

Hobart to Lake St Clair in 1850; mostly by foot.

Another of the stories published in Hilary Webster’s compilation: The Tasmanian Traveller A Nineteenth Century Companion For Modern Traveller, recorded the Journey of F.J. Cockburn who on foot travelled ‘From Hobart to Lake St Clair and Return’ in 1850.

The Tasmanian Traveller

Cockburn seems to have been the butt of nonsense advice when he asked around for the best time of year to walk from Hobart to the remote inland Lake St Clair, which is located roughly in the centre of Tasmania. He tells ‘I received replies which induced me to start on May-day.’  By that time of year, temperatures are plummeting and the further you progress away from the coast of Tasmania the more the rain settles in.

He took a steamer to New Norfolk and then it rained for 4 days.  On one of these early walking days he found an essential bridge had been washed away with the deluge. His crossing was memorable. ‘The river remained impassable until 7th, when by letting a long ladder down from the remnant of the bridge onto the ruins of one of the piers, I was able to cross, like a monkey, before an admiring audience’.

Miles later he ‘stopped at a little eating house, in a damp situation surrounded with wet fields …” What was wrong with F.J. Cockburn’s powers of perception?  All the weather signs indicated that proceeding further at that time of the year was a bad idea.  Then came more reasons for abandoning the walk; ‘the last six or seven miles of my day’s journey was along a regular wild bush road, affording admirable opportunities for murder and robbery.’

Despite these factors, F.J. Cockburn persisted with his journey. After losing his way at one point he came across a hut with two shepherds who fed him mutton chops, damper and tea. “My bed was formed on the floor near the fire, of sheepskins, and I was very thankful that it was too cold for fleas.”

When he reached Lake St Clair, his appreciation of the lake was stymied. ‘The sides of the lake being covered with dense forest, almost impenetrable, it cannot be seen to advantage without a boat, and boat there was none.’

Cockburn summed up his experience of Lake St Clair as ‘certainly a gem in its own way. It is as fine as any Scotch lake of its size, excepting in the beauty of the foliage on the banks. It was a wild and striking scene.’

F.J. Cockburn carried a satchel weighing ‘about twelve pounds: one shooting coat, waistcoat and trousers; one pair of shoes; three shirts; three flannel waistcoats; three pairs of socks; three handkerchiefs; one pair of braces; one neck-tie; one travelling dressing case – and when I started, half a pound of “nailrod” tobacco.’  I can’t help wondering how small this man was – these days the clothes on this list would weigh much more for the average sized walker.

He concluded ‘on the whole I was pleased with my trip; the roads were bad, the country wet and the air cold, but on the other hand, the grass was more vividly green than at any other time, the air was clear and crisp, there were no fleas, and walking was pleasant in the cold.’

Long-term followers of this blog know that I found the start of my last walk (in April) from Bridgewater/Granton to New Norfolk way too cold. This led me to the decision to put on hold any further walking towards Lake St Clair until Springtime when the temperature starts to climb towards summer.  I am in awe of walkers around the world who like being cold and wet and find pleasure in achieving walking goals in such environments.  Perhaps I am too soft!

Walking from Australia to London

I blinked and blinked again.  Walking from my home to London? How would this be possible?  Yes it will be possible … but in 100 – 200 million years’ time when continents reconnect with each other, according to a recent news story: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/australia-on-path-to-join-uk-as-part-of-supercontinent-amasia/story-fnjwl2dr-1227331780435?sv=1e2848859e5b4afa30b76819882202f0&

I reflected that the Derwent River might no longer exist and its beautiful ribbon-like pathway through our landscape might only be remembered in the fault lines of rearranged rocks.

Considering the geological and weather upheavals likely during those intervening years, I imagine the footsteps of human kind will not even be a distant memory.  My guess is that the ant and cockroach populations will have mutated strangely and may be the only lively fauna roaming the planet. If water remains on the Earth then possibly some creatures who can survive in highly acid waters may be in the ascendancy in some regions.

It is rather strange to sit here tapping on my computer and to consider that not only do I expect the human race to become extinct, but all the artefacts of mankind will be obliterated over the millennia.  Having held a career in the museology industry for much of my professional life, I retain the urge to collect and conserve the artefacts of our histories. Nevertheless, these collections and preservations will probably only be valued for a few more hundreds or thousands of years.

On this basis it seems that walking and discovering what we have around us is a much more worthwhile thing to do – at least at the personal level. In an earlier posting I referred followers to the blogsite of a man who took 11 years to walk around the world. Even if I should set myself a similarly outlandish goal, it won’t be possible now to walk from home to London in my lifetime except by using some water or air based technology to move from land to land. What a small dream this is in relation to the expanse of the history of the universe.  But then, humans are not so great when compared to the scale of the universe.

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.

Sorell Creek sign post: Stage 14 of walk along the Derwent River

Around 11.35 am, directional signs at the Sorell Creek T junction with the Lyell Highway gave me useful information for me to gauge the distance I had walked from Granton and what was left to cover if I continued ‘straight’ to New Norfolk. As I crossed the actual creek flowing with a lot of water, I was made aware by a slightly mangled small blue sign, of a cemetery to my left; usually old cemeteries contain interesting stories but visiting it seemed like a deviation which would take me too far from the Derwent River so I continued on the Highway making a mental note to return another day to have a look at the Malbina cemetery.

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The main signs indicated New Norfolk was a mere 5 kilometres further north, if I stayed walking on the Highway – but I expected to be finding tracks off the highway taking me closer to river in the next half an hour.

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and the golden view when looking back south was also worth a photo.

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I wondered how many people commuted to New Norfolk daily by foot.  Probably zero numbers.

Time for a morning tea break on Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River

At 11.20 am, having been walking from Granton towards New Norfolk since a little before 8am,  the Sorell Creek area seemed a pleasant place to stop and take a break. The town is too small to have a shop so, as usual, I dug into my backpack for some prepared food to nibble.  I rested on a grassy bank near the road verge with my back to the Lyell Highway and surveyed the low paddocks with resting watchful cows, munching sheep and wandering geese.  Their backdrop were golden poplar trees with leaves dropping and blowing in the occasional breeze, and a strip of glassy dark blue Derwent River streamed behind. The crows were cawing. Traffic roaring. But the sun sparkled on everything I could see. The vista and experience seemed quite magically unreal.

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