Tag Archives: Lake Catagunya

From Catagunya to Wayatinah – post 4 of 4

I took a series of forest photos most of which are blurred. I am adding some here to give you an idea of what parts looked like – sorry about the quality.

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20170424_111909.jpgThen the white shape of the Wayatinah Power Station appeared between the tree trunks.

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The closer I came to the Wayatinah Power Station the steeper the hills seemed. For vehicles travelling down the road, the final gradient requires a low gear in a 4WD. The drizzle on a day like the one on which I went, meant the clay and soil track surface was exceptionally slippery and dangerous for the inexperienced or inept.

Then I was out in the open again. This time looking down to Lake Catagunya past the Wayatinah Power Station.

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To my right, additional infrastructure punctured the sky.

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Further up the hill and connecting to the huge surge tank, the snaking length of wooden penstocks started.  See my earlier post for more information about wooden penstocks here. Can you remember the wonderful photos which Andrew took in this blog posting?  My photos are less detailed but still show the dramatic line of the penstocks.

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I ended the day with a thick coating of mud on my boots and a smile on my face. Yet another day offering me a memorable experience along the Derwent River. I am especially grateful for the extensive information and access provided by GL. Please note that private and corporate owners control access to this section of the Derwent River and the many gates are locked with an assortment of sophisticated processes. General public access is not available.

From Catagunya to Wayatinah – post 3 of 4

 

I followed a road aiming to intersect with the transmission lines ready to follow that towards Wayatinah to the extent it would be possible.  Massive heavily forested gullies made continued close access to Lake Catagunya (full of Derwent River water) impossible.

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Even the cleared area wasn’t clear enough for anyone to walk through on foot, although it was sufficiently clear to keep the power lines unaffected.

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When I stood on high, misty wisps reshaped distant hills and threatened to obliterate views of Lake Catagunya. Fortunately I could always see its glistening surface way below.

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On top of the second last hill before reaching Wayatinah Power Station, the western end of Lake Catagunya appeared through the clouds.

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Before long the metal pipeline streaming water into the Wayatinah Power Station became visible.

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Often the bush was amazingly quiet. This film  seems to be without sound. Only near the end can the faint crarking of a crow be heard.  This bush silence was an unexpected beauty of my day from Catagunya to Wayatinah.

From Catagunya to Wayatinah – post 2 of 4

Since Andrew had walked this way, much rain had fallen so that any chance of crossing Black Bob’s Rivulet somewhere near where he walked was zero.

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I continued back to the old Cooma property through more locked gates.

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The owners were in the distance checking on some of their animals. Incredibly healthy cattle wandered around the unfenced land. Big curious fellows.  Superb condition. Beautiful black coats. Brown coats. Mixed colours.  As usual I talked to the animals.

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Elsewhere, I watched a large family of yellow tailed Black Cockatoos raucously calling from tree to tree.  On another occasion a rush of coloured parrots whipped through the bush with astounding speed.

A large number of gravel roads and tracks meander over the hills between Catagunya and Wayatinah. Many do not appear on maps. Without a compass a walker could spend hours taking useless tracks – apparently people have been known to become so disoriented they find themselves way north of the river and after many kilometres back on the Lyell Highway.  In part, the tracks were created to service plantation forests  grown after original native forests were cleared and burnt.  The other user is TasNetworks, the State company which travels around to access the electrical power transmission towers and to check the levels of vegetation  along the transmission lines.

Since massive bush fires many years ago in one part of the area between Catagunya and Wayatinah, the remnants of hundreds of hectares of pine plantations have created a problem for the forestry industry. The small remaining stands of living trees are awkward to reach and not profitable to harvest.  Much of the land is covered by burnt parts of trees none of which can be used.  The cost to clear seems too high. Lost money. Lost opportunity. And lost original native forests. Nature always attempts to reclaim its place however in practice this means that those plants which breed well and grow quickly can create monocultures no less damaging than the single species plantation forests . In parts along the burnt out section, native plants that act like weeds such as some wattles are already taking over.  Monocultures do not a forest make.

From Catagunya to Wayatinah – post 1 of 4

Well over a year ago, one morning I walked through smoky air westwards into the Catagunya Power Station.  After a night camping, entwined by the thick atmosphere of a far distant bush fire and desperate for water, I was relieved to be received hospitably at the Station.  At that time I was thrilled by a guided tour of the building and its operation, however I never proceeded to walk the extra few hundred metres to look at the Dam wall holding back the large Lake Catagunya.  I was most grateful when many months ago, my walking proxy Andrew climbed the hills from Wayatinah Power Station to arrive at and photograph the Catagunya Dam.  A blog search using “Catagunya” as the term, will help you to locate those past stories plus a swag of descriptive photographs.

Recently, I was privileged to make the journey between the Catagunya and Wayatinah Power Stations and to experience that stimulating environment. Thanks to the generous assistance of GL from TasNetworks,  I was able to enter the locked Catagunya Road off the Lyell Highway, and travel the 8 or so kilometres to the Catagunya Dam.

The wall of the Dam curved magnificently and  the landscape-green Lake Catagunya spread impassively to the west. 20170424_104221.jpg

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Below I could see the old Derwent River bed as a rocky almost water free pathway.

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Bypassing the river bed, a massive Canal drained water from the Lake into the Power Station. It appeared as a giant marker on the landscape that seemed much wider and more substantial than the Tarraleah Canals that run from Lake King William and the Butlers Gorge Power Station further inland.    20170424_104148

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The apparently still Canal water was deceptive. Only on closer inspection could I see the dramatic gush of water moving underneath the left hand entrance at the end of the race.  Obviously electrical power was being generated in the Catagunya Power Station that day.

From vantage points near the Dam and the Canal I could see the Power Station building way below. Oh how tiny it seemed by comparison with the larger constructions. Yet when I had first approached and walked around it, the building seemed cavernous.

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More than anything I was as excited as a three year old having a birthday party with lots of surprises.  Recent rain had cleared the air of dust, the day was overcast and the fairy weight of moisture from low clouds kept the air moist. I kept breathing deeply, absorbing the cleanness of the air. Loving the damp air. Feeling cleansed. So profoundly happy to be back in the bush and walking besides my beloved Derwent River.

Between Wayatinah and Catagunya Power Stations- posting 5 of 6

 

Above the complex of Catagunya Lake, Dam and Power Station there were a number of viewing points from which to study the construction of the dam, the head race, switch yard, etc. It was so easy to admire the engineering feat that established this enterprise. Water was not moving in the race so it seemed that the Catagunya Power Station was closed down.  Maintenance? Too much power being generated elsewhere? Water conservation and therefore prudent power generation management practices?  The reason is unknown.

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Did you notice how thin the water race walls were?  If you imagine the pressure of the water in the race you might believe the walls should be thicker. Certainly, when compared to those of Tarraleah Canal No 1 (refer to photos in my earlier postings) these walls are much slimmer, and they do not have cross beams linking both sides together.

Did you notice the ladder over the wall?  On this side and a second on the other side?  This is more than is on offer in Tarraleah Canal No 1.  Of course the ladders would be used as part of maintenance programs when the race is empty, and only a fool would step over the edge while the race is full of water. Since the power generation could be restarted at any moment, the speed of the water flow would almost immediately turn anything in that water into an electrical spark.

When looking at the Dam wall, Andrew saw specks of movement; these were the only people encountered in the whole day – three workers doing some work on the curving face of dam’s spillway. Can you spot them in the photograph?  They are working on the yellow curved frame which has been custom built to move from left to right across the curve of the dam wall.

Andrew remarked, “I could hear their voices echoing off the concrete walls, but they were far too distant for them to see me”. There was no-one at the Power Station itself – so Andrew passed by with no-one the wiser that the visit had occurred.   One sign attracted his attention.

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It was quite extraordinary to see a sign with an image of a dolphin so far inland. Hydro Tasmania must be congratulated for alerting others to the damage which can be done to marine life should people pollute Lake Catagunya/the Derwent River.   Apart from the damage to sea life 60% of Hobart’s drinking water comes from the Derwent River so the protection of these waterways is of paramount importance.

Between Wayatinah and Catagunya Power Stations- posting 4 of 6

Eventually Andrew reached cleared paddocks at the point where the transmission line swung to the south east.  The going then was much easier through low scrub in a shallower gully and then up onto the summit of Bushman’s Hill, some three hours after the start of the day’s walk.  From this hill Mt Wellington above Hobart was visible in the distance, and Andrew’s mobile phone pinged. He had come back into mobile phone coverage range. The one occasional bar of reception was enough for a text message but not sufficient for a phone call. Bushman’s Hill offered a very comfortable spot with the occasional shade tree and logs to rest on.

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After a quick lunch around 1 pm, Andrew followed the power line easement hoping to get to  Lake Catagunya’s edge. Unfortunately, the terrain became impressively steep and scrubby with a coverage of thick ferns towards the bottom so that idea was abandoned.

Before crossing Lake Catagunya’s inlet, as Andrew skirted around looking for a cross over point, Dunns Hill stood prominently. This hill, pictured below, had to be traversed to reach Catagunya Dam and Catagunya Power Station. But first the water had to be crossed or walked around.

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The challenge was to find a way of by-passing the large inlet of water where Black Bobs Rivulet enters Catagunya Lake. By heading 1 km north, north east, then east through open forest and then progressively steeper country Andrew reached a point where the rivulet hit the Lake. Right at the junction the exposed rock made for an easy rock-hop to the other side (in flood this part would be impassable as it is obvious that it carries a lot of water after heavy rain). He was so glad to see the low water level at that point. otherwise it would have meant wet feet or more kilometres of walking to skirt around this obstacle.

The first photo below of Black Bob’s Rivulet looks upstream and the second looks downstream to where it enters the lake.

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The open hill in the distance on the second photo is located north of Catagunya Dam and on the other/eastern side of Catagunya Road – this is not Dunns Hill.  Once over Black Bob’s Rivulet, the direction taken was south towards Dunns Hill. After a short scrub-bash, the route emerged into the open paddocks of the cattle country surrounding Catagunya Power Station. Andrew then climbed 1 km steeply up Dunns Hill to rejoin the power lines.  The reward for reaching the top of Dunns Hill was a fine view down into the Lake and westwards to Wylds Craig.

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Looking westwards the continuing power lines disappear into the distance. The undulating nature of the landscape is also on show.

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The glorious openness of Dunns Hill with its vistas on a sunny day, provided the stimulus for creative photography showcasing the patterns offered by the electricity transmission pylons and the grass.  DSC01711e.jpg

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The final kilometre to the power station was through open grasslands, buzzing with grasshoppers and butterflies.  It was like creating a bow wave; with each step the masses of insects were spread ahead.  My walk from Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam was in similar country and the postings  3 and 4 of 13 talk about my experiences with grasshoppers and butterflies.

I am very keen on grass with its colours and textures. Long term blog readers have seen many photos of grasses taken in many locations during my walk along the Derwent.  Andrew’s photo below shows Dunns Hill grass moved by the breeze.

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Navigation during this walk was never in doubt – the prominent shadow on the grass from the transmission cables overhead marked the route to the power station!  See the shadow line in the photo below.  Of course if the inland forest plantation/logging roads had been followed (which might be necessary in wet weather and when Black Bob’s Rivulet was flooding), then using GPS equipment would have been essential to keep track of your location. power-line-shadowv2-1

The day was glorious and the following panoramic photo captures some of that magic.

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Between Wayatinah and Catagunya Power Stations- posting 3 of 6

 

After crossing the first creek,  a steady climb brought Andrew to the first of the huge transmission towers.  To the west, the dramatic dolerite outcrop known as Wylds Craig with a cloud capping its head, stood on the horizon.  Way below, sections of the slender, curved Lake Catagunya were apparent.

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Between this point and the next pylon interposed a very deep gully which, on the other side, rose steeply through thick scrub. Towards the top on the other side, parts looked very intimidating and gave the impression it might have required a steep and scrubby scramble. As an alternative, a vehicle track was found here – presumably the access route for transmission tower maintenance and for the occasional vegetation slashing. This looked like an easier route than the scrub-choked gully so Andrew followed the track away from the transmission line – it went for a considerable distance ‘inland’, rising continuously and passing through another locked gate, until it hit a high point in forestry plantations before dropping back to the transmission line easement. It was not clear if taking the long distance of the road was easier than the shorter but steeper climb up the gully – either way, Andrew elected to stick to the transmission line for the rest of the walk.

A discernible hum could be heard while walking beneath the power lines; was it wind in the wires, vibration or something electrical?

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The next gully was equally scrubby, but the thickest part could be passed a short distance to one side, on the edge of the forestry plantation in which recently planted seedlings grew. The subsequent deep gully was passed easily by contouring a little to the north in lovely open forest with occasional views to Lake Catagunya lying far below steep and forested slopes.

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