Tag Archives: Greater Hobart Area

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.

Walking on an industrial site – posting 1 of 5

 

This seems an appropriate time to add in the stories of my walk along the water edge of one of Greater Hobart Area’s iconic industrial estates in its 100th year of operation.  This series of postings records the morning when I was privileged to be given permission to walk on some of Nyrstar’s property.  But first – a reminder of what the site looks like from a distance; from other vantage points during my walk along the Derwent.

For example, my blog posting Either side of Bowen bridge – posting 5 of 9 included a photo looking at Nyrstar from Dowsing Point and across Prince of Wales Bay.  Refer also to my postings On through the East Risdon State Reserve along the Derwent River and Along the northern side of Shag Bay and onwards along the Derwent River for additional photos of Nyrstar. These latter two postings were made after my walk through the East Risdon State Reserve on the eastern shore across the Derwent River from Nyrstar on the western shore.

Colloquially known as ‘the zinc works’ or the ‘Risdon works’, Nyrstar’s operation centres around converting raw materials into zinc metal.  More can be read here.

Special permission was required to walk on this land and I needed to agree to particular conditions before I could proceed. The extensive site holds many dangers of physical, chemical, electrical, mechanical and liquid kinds and legislation and internal procedures regulate entry and access. This is not a public access walk.  After arrival at the Reception  office on-site,  I submitted to a health and safety induction process, donned a high-vis vest and other safety gear (including designated boots), and accepted that I must be accompanied by a staff member at all times. My host and guide was a senior manager whose understanding, knowledge and passion  for the environment had to be second to none.  I could not have been more fortunate. And he also loved the Derwent River and told me how he jumped into his kayak to explore the river whenever he could find a moment (no – not while he is at work!).

The day of our walk was gloriously sunny with hardly a puff of white marking the sky; exceptional walking weather where every detail is clear.

A considerable portion of the Nyrstar industrial buildings edge the Derwent River as shown in the Google map excerpt below.

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Nyrstar’s property extends into New Town Bay. I expected only to walk on and next to the rocky shore along the lines I marked on the Google map below.  Future postings will reveal whether I actually walked further.

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I am so very grateful for the support and interest and assistance which Nyrstar provided to ensure that my walk along the Derwent River was complete.  Staff all over the site could not have been more pleasant.

 

Either side of Bowen bridge – posting 1 of 9

Stage 8 of my walk from the mouth the source of the Derwent River took me under the Bowen Bridge on the eastern shore, and during Stage 10 I walked past the Bridge at Dowsing Point on the western shore after deciding to walk to the mouth on both sides of the river. However, when on the western shore I could not easily see a way to stick by the river edge at Dowsing Point, and since that day promised to be a long one I took the easy option and followed the streets which cut across the Point. I always felt that I hadn’t been quite honest in taking this approach and that I needed to return and be serious about walking the Derwent edge to the extent it was possible.

So return I did, and this series of postings records that visit.

As usual within the Greater Hobart Area, I took a Metro bus which dropped me off one morning within the Technopark precinct at Dowsing Point on the Hobart side of the Bowen Bridge. Technopark is a state government initiative started over 15 years ago with the aim of providing support and encouragement for small businesses and creative individuals with technological related ideas that could be developed into significant money earners for Tasmania’s productive growth. It’s brief has expanded since its inception.

By leaving the bus at the turning circle within Technopark I hoped there might be ways to walk to the river edge and then continue around Dowsing Point.  Until I looked around that day, I had not realised this precinct is seriously fenced, including the installation of electric fencing, and there is no exit except through the main fortified entrance gates.  In the photo below you can see three layers of fencing, with barbed wire strung up at the top of the closer two fence lines- and the Bowen Bridge across the Derwent River in the distance.

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I walked to corners and along the fence lines without finding a gap, a gate or any chance of passing through.  I could see the Derwent River and the Bowen Bridge with Mt Direction overlooking both – but I could not reach them from the Technopark site.

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So I had no choice except to leave the Technopark and try other options to reach the River.  The day displayed a stunning blue sky overhead and a moderate breeze which rattled the long grasses.  Mount Wellington was ever present as I walked away from the river.

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Before long I passed through the gates and headed away from Technopark with the aim to walk to the Bowen Bridge.

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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 .

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!

The Derwent River at night

Tasmania’s bush, its coast and urban areas offer a photographer’s paradise at all times of day and night across the four seasons.

This Amazing Planet  is one of many blogs that show spectacular photographs of Tasmania’s flora, fauna and landscape. Go to Nightscape-Hobart for a stunning visual treat. Enjoy looking at part of the glorious Greater Hobart Area, at night, photographed from on top of Mount Wellington. Between the two sides of the city, the rich blue Derwent River passes on its way to Stormy Bay and then the sea. The brightly lit Tasman Bridge can be seen to join the two shore lines.

From the sea to the source; stories of a river on the other side of the globe

Two years ago, Helen Ivison published River Derwent: From Sea to Source (Amberley Publishing).

 Ivison River Derwent

 The promotional puff declares this book ‘brings to light tales and stories of fascinating events, landmarks and people. River Derwent: From Sea to Source is essential reading for anyone who knows this river well, and also for those who are visiting the River Derwent for the first time.’  But what is the author referring to?

Hers is the Derwent River in the Cumbrian region of England which flows from the mountainous Lakes District in two strands, one of which starts near Styhead Tarn. The two strands meet at Grains Gill, and continue in a north easterly direction as a single river towards an expanse known as Derwent Water. The river passes through this ‘lake’ then eases into a north westerly direction across country before flowing onwards through Bassenthwaite Lake. Finally, the English Derwent River turns westwards and empties into the Irish Sea.

By contrast Tasmania’s Derwent River flows generally in a south easterly direction from Lake St Clair, through steep narrow gorges, curving around farmlands, before passing between the two sides of the Greater Hobart Area into Storm Bay. The man-made lakes of Lake King William, Wayatinah Lagoon, Lake Catagunya, Lake Repulse, Cluny Lagoon and Meadowbank Lake all disrupt the progress of the River. These lakes have resulted from dam building as part of hydro-electricity generating projects over the past century.