Tag Archives: Gretna

Natural bush remnants amidst agricultural lands –posting 1 of 5

The bush, whether  or not it has been disturbed by farmers, hydro workers, road makers or forestry men, is always alluring and endlessly attractive. It may be open, tangled or dense. Agriculturalists may have cleared land leaving occasional remnants of bush and tufts of its natural grasses. It will contain natives and exotics. The bush may be dry or wet. The colour may be grey-green naturally or from a dusty overlay.  Alternatively, myriads of other shades of green, grey, beige, and brown will fleck against rocky outcrops and the black or green glassiness of the Derwent River passing through.

The following photos and those in the subsequent postings in this series, were taken at various locations between Meadowbank Dam and its Power Station towards Gretna.

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Recapping the walk along the Derwent River

 

I lived the walk along the Derwent with a vital obsession but, after so many months intensely engaged on other projects, now some of the details are vague. To re-immerse myself into the experience, I am writing this post.

In addition, I suspect it will be a great help to people who have become followers of my blog during the past 6 months.  Despite my inactivity, it surprises me how many visitors and views the blog gets daily, how many different posts are read, and how many different countries around the world are represented.

In August 2014, from an impulsive unplanned idea, I took a bus to a spot near the mouth of the Derwent River on the eastern shore, walked to the sea then retraced my steps and began the walk towards the source of this great river approximately 214kms inland.  On day trips, and around other life commitments, I walked in stages along the eastern shore until I reached the Bridgewater Bridge which crosses the Derwent approximately 43 kms upstream.

Instead of continuing inland, I crossed the bridge and headed back on the western shore towards the southernmost  mouth of the River.  Most of the walks along the eastern and western shores between the sea and the Bridgewater Bridge were along designated pathways, although some informal track walking, road walking and beach walking was required during my trips.

Then I returned to the Bridgewater Bridge and began the journey inland expecting only to walk on the side of the river that made passage easiest.  I had no intention to walk both sides from this point onwards in anticipation the landscape would be inaccessible for a number of reasons or particularly wild with dense and difficult forests. I walked to New Norfolk on the western/southern side of the Derwent but from then on, I switched from side to side. Using maps I determined where I must take up each new stage of a walk while switching from side to side, so that I could say I had traipsed the entire length of the Derwent River.

The farthest inland stages of my walk are easily defined.  I walked from near the township of Tarraleah besides Canal 1 (along which is transported Derwent River water) above the actual River bed, past Clark Dam, and around majestic Lake King William to the township of Derwent Bridge.  From there I followed the river to its source at St Clair Lagoon dam.  In case some people believe the source of the Derwent is further inland, I walked onwards to the weir where the Derwent Basin empties into the St Clair Lagoon via passing the southern end of Lake St Clair.

Between New Norfolk and the area near  Tarraleah, my walk beside the River was in country near  townships (some of which were located at a great distance from the River) such as Bushy Park, Gretna, Hamilton, Ouse, and Wayatinah.  This necessitated additional travel to or from the highway and roads, on which these towns exist, to reach the river or to return home from a walk along the river.

Inland, the water of the Derwent River is controlled by dams constructed to create hydro-electricity for Tasmania: I walked past them all. From the end of the river closest to the mouth, these are the Meadowbank, Cluny, Repulse, Catagunya, Wayatinah, Clark and St Clair Lagoon dams.  Each of these has a bank of water behind them:  Meadowbank Lake, Cluny Lagoon, Lake Repulse, Lake Catagunya, Wayatinah Lagoon, Lake King William and St Clair Lagoon.  Most of these dams and bodies of water has a power station: Meadowbank Power Station, Cluny Power Station, Repulse Power Station, Catagunya Power Station, Wayatinah Power Station and Butlers Gorge Power Station.  I was privileged to be shown around one of these power stations during one walk.

Water from the Derwent passes through two other power stations:  Nieterana mini hydro and the Liapootah Power Station.  I did not follow the trail of these Derwent River managed flows.  The water from other locations inland passes through the Lake Echo Power station and Tungatinah Power Station then flows into the Derwent after power generation, thereby increasing the volume of water flowing downstream.  I did not walk along these feeder rivers.

The few stages of the walks which have not been recorded in this blog, are in all the zone between Gretna and the area near Tarraleah – a stretch of perhaps  120 km.  I have written up and posted most of the walks in this zone, and now it’s time to add the missing sections.

Water edges between Gretna and Lake Repulse Dam

Grasses, bull rushes, cliffs, rocks, thistles and thorny bushes, marsh plants and or trees edge Meadowbank Lake and the Derwent River up to Lake Repulse Dam and downstream to Gretna. Intermingled with any of these options can be weeds such as willow trees or blackberry brambles. 

 Brandon water edge

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Brandon water edge cliffs

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On the rarest of occasions, physical access to the river was possible.

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Unfortunately in relation to the photo below, a herd of cattle were headed my way – this was their drinking spot. I did not have time to go to the edge; instead I walked furiously onwards under the hot sun.

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While there was seldom a moment when I could not hear or see the Derwent River during my walks on farmland, usually a steep drop off or a thicket of trees prevented me feeling the breeze as the River flowed fast past me.

Seeking pastoral scenes walking along the Derwent River

Strictly defined, the word ‘pastoral’ is associated with land used to graze sheep or cattle, and therefore any land used in this way will offer a pastoral scene.  However, in my mind, the word ‘pastoral’ is overlaid with romantic images from artists during the 17th to the 20th centuries that idealised farming land.  Artists such as Claude Lorrain, Henry Milburne, and John McCartin are amongst thousands of artists who created and followed in this aesthetic tradition.

During my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent, occasionally I hoped to see pastoral scenes in which I could imagine an idealised lifestyle.  However this wasn’t possible in the area of the land between Gretna and Cluny Dam – severe drought continues to keep much of the land that was cleared for animal grazing, with little or no grass. On some farming lands I walked across sandy paddocks where the ‘soil’ was barely held together by the occasional weed.

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This is not the first time I have mentioned the dryness of the farming land up and down the area between Gretna and Cluny Dam during my blog.  In the past I have included photographs of severe cracks in the ground.

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Nevertheless every time I walked on a different property in that area and when I came across the vegetation-free ‘soils’, I was aghast at how bad things are for some farmers. There is no romance in these scenes.

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Nevertheless, on most farming properties, some paddocks have been irrigated by drawing water from the Derwent River giving rise to lush grass for grazing, or for fodder and other crops.

 

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Between these two extremes are paddocks with a moderate amount of grass cover, enabling stock to graze.

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I admire our farmers who manage to survive despite the climatic ravages to their properties.  We need them to survive.  We need to eat.

I would have loved to show you photographs of the rolling hills in combination with the Derwent River and the adjacent landforms, whose shapes I simply adore.  However, to do so would be to identify the location of where I had walked, and therefore on whose property I was permitted to cross.  Blog followers who have discovered my site only recently can refer to Tackling the Derwent in the Meadowbank Lake region in order to understand that I promised not to tell which properties I had walked on – owners had various excellent reasons, and so I continue to honour my vow.  It does mean, of course, that where the owners did not mind others knowing that I walked on their land, I cannot declare these either because by deduction, readers would be able to determine those owners who want their privacy maintained.

But I will give you snippets of images which I hope don’t help others make identifications.  The images help me to see this part of our country has strong, albeit weathered, bones.  Very beautiful in their starkness.

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Walking across farmland – posting 1 of 2

From past as yet undescribed walks, I have a large backlog of information and photographs to write into posts and publish. It is my priority to grab snatches of time to write.

Tasmania has been marked by many plus 30 degree days over the past couple of months, and it was on one of those days that I walked next to the flow of the Derwent River across a couple of private farms in the area between Cluny Dam and Gretna. In earlier posts I have declared that my ideal walking temperature is between 15 and 20 degrees and while I dreaded walking in the searing dry heat, I feel compelled to walk when drivers offer their services to get me to the starting point and collect me at the end. Thanks Alex for being available and helping me achieve my goal.

As usual I will not identify the location of my walks between Gretna and Cluny Dam, so that I meet the commitment I make to the landowners to maintain their privacy.  As usual I have a couple of hundred glorious photos and unfortunately I cannot publish most because they will identify the properties on which I walked.  Nevertheless there are some stories to tell and they are not without colour and texture.  Despite the constraints, I will do my best.

On this particular day, the air was bright and clear and the forests beckoned.  When I start a walk, I always wear a smile on my face.

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The first gate was easily passable.

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Later I found other gates less accommodating. One makes me smile as I remember, although the gate put me in a spot of difficulty at the time.  I recall the surrounding fences were not climbable and the gate was padlocked. Unfortunately the gate was high (and I have comparatively short legs) and the wire mesh offered no easy toe-hold.  Nevertheless I had no choice but to get over that gate. Somehow I managed to get astride the top, and with the gate moving on its hinges, I sat pressed on the upper iron bar in a most unstable and uncomfortable position.  Because of the movement of the gate I couldn’t get my balance to swing my leg over easily.  No-one around.  No-one expected.  Just me.  On the top of the gate.  Hot sun searing my brains.  I think a cartoonist could have made an amusing image of this circumstance.  Eventually I tried a sort of falling-off-the gate-manoeuvre, caught a strap of my gaiters in the wire mesh and nearly yanked a leg off, and then stepped onto the ground. Relieved. Glad to be on the other side. Obstacles can always be overcome! Of course, the best gates are those that I find open.

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Once through the forest, I walked across low level dry vegetation which cracked and crackled as my boots crossed the ground.

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Throughout this particular walk the Derwent River always flowed nearby. Once more I fell in love with its colours and movement.  Yet again, I fell in love with the trees and grasses that grow beside the River.

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Writing up the ‘gaps’ in my walk along the Derwent River

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The photo shows water entering the Derwent Basin from Lake St Clair.

Despite my excitement when I reached the source of the Derwent River, I recognised there were some kilometres not yet walked or which had not had their stories told in posts on this blog.  Despite earlier misgivings and qualms about walking some edges of the Derwent River, I renewed my commitment to complete 100% of the length from the mouth to the source, and to create a blog which tells the complete story.  My future posts detail those ‘gap’ walks to the extent that I can, considering the confidentiality requirements of some landowners.

For blog followers who recently linked to my site for the first time, you may not be aware that in the earlier stages of this ‘Walking the Derwent’ project, my walks were sequential.  That is, where I finished a walk I started the next walk. However, once I reached the town of Gretna, from then on as I walked inland, my walks occurred out of sequence depending on the weather, access to the land, and a driver to take me to the start of a walk or collect me from the end of a walk.  I imagine for most of my blog readers it has been difficult in the past months to understand to understand how far away from Hobart or from Lake St Clair each walk has been.  Once I have finished writing all the walk posts, I propose to create one post which describes the River in terms of moving from one end to the other sequentially.  Hopefully this will clear up any confusions or uncertainties.

Gretna to Lake Repulse Dam – an aerial perspective: 3 of 3

The Cluny Dam holds back the water of Cluny Lagoon, and pumps it through the Cluny Power Station.  At the western end of the Lagoon the wall of the Lake Repulse Dam rears high.

Between Cluny Dam and Power Station and Lake Repulse Dam, Michelle saw:

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Between Cluny Dam and Power Station and Lake Repulse Dam, Chantale saw:

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Between Cluny Dam and Power Station and Lake Repulse Dam, I saw:

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When walking along the edge of the Derwent River, I am not so conscious of the constant winding of the river around the hilly landscape as when I look at the photos in this and the last two blog posts.  The beauty of this snaking quality is that as I take each step, new vistas become visible.