Tag Archives: Lake Repulse Dam

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.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 9 of 13

The signs of a past bushfire were clear on one long hill.  Possibly a year ago.  A little green regrowth in evidence.

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Nevertheless seeing the blackened trees was a timely alert and made me wonder how I would cope if a bush fire came my way.  I have been informed the safest place is to find/create a hollow in the ground at the bottom of a hill, dig in and cover yourself as well as you can (remembering that most bushwalking gear and clothes is synthetic and will melt), hope the fire will flash over you quickly and that no trees or burning branches will fall on you, wait until the rush has passed, and then hope you can see somewhere to go.  I don’t ever want to put that to the test.

On the evening of this walk, I dropped off to sleep around 7.30pm (early to bed early to rise!) in my trusty little synthetic tent on the only flat place I could find during almost the entire walk.

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A little after 9 pm I woke to the smell of smoke.  Hmmmm.  I clambered out of the tent to have a look; 360 degrees of hills were softened with smoke haze.  No wind.  I couldn’t guess the direction from where the fire smoke might be coming.  When I considered collapsing my tent, repacking my backpack and continuing onto the Catagunya complex, I realised it was possible the fire was flaring between me and that destination. I listened for the sound of helicopters doing water drops.  Heard nothing.

A couple of hundred metres below me was the dam with its thick brown water (photo below taken when setting up before the smoke haze arrived) which I felt was the safest place I would find close by. Thought I was safest staying put.

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So I climbed back into my hot sleeping bag (the evening temperature didn’t cool as forecast), and went to sleep.

In the morning, I took the following photos. They show the smoky cattle-crossed hills surrounding me – and indicate the smoky air I was breathing.

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I packed up and walked passed another smaller dam, before travelling around, down and up hills once more. The smoky haze persisted. Didn’t seem worse.  I continued.

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When I saw Catagunya Dam in the distance with the haze behind, I knew the seat of the fire was elsewhere.

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Later, I learnt the fire was over 70kms away in the south west of Tasmania.  Strong winds were responsible for creating the haze and even Hobart way east was blanketed similarly by smoke from the same fire.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 7 of 13

Even in a section that appeared to be cleared to the River, the edges were not negotiable, effectively preventing my access to the water of Lake Repulse.

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In the location photographed above where the Lake is at the foot of the cleared land, after walking downhill eventually I had to give up my attempts at water access, and start a new uphill trek. I crossed a running creek, collected some brownish water in case my water supplies ran out, then continued the climb up another hill.

My activity sent a Rufus Kangaroo bouncing up and away. Obviously I had disturbed her midday sleep.

Some way up the hill I stopped to rest and sat looking down. A movement caught my eye.  A huge Rufus Kangaroo came into sight crossing the area where I had walked. I suspect he slept through my intrusion and was now looking for his mate.

Watch my video (takes over a minute) and look for the point where you first spot the kangaroo. When immobile he wasn’t always easy to see.  From time to time he is partly shielded by vegetation but you will see him bouncing first to the left, resting on a log with his ears twitching, then bouncing back to the right. When stationary, the bright light on his back helped blend him with the environment. Only his twitching ears gave him away when he rested his front legs/arms on the log.  Majestic. Comfortably natural in his environment.

I hope you enjoyed the sounds of the bush while you watched.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 6 of 13

I have been asked why I chose to walk on the eastern/northern side of the River.  Quite simply, that side looked easier.  Once on the walk I had grand views to the other side, and felt vindicated in my decision.  On the western/southern side dense virgin bush with no tracks or plantation forests covered the steep hills.

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Even when the forests opened out, the terrain was rocky and treacherous on the other side of the water.

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Nevertheless the landscape was richly beautiful even when tampered with by mankind.  All the photos above remind me of the steepness of the terrain on ‘my’ side of the river, and the impossibility of accessing the waters of Lake Repulse.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 5 of 13

 

The forested areas gave me the greatest amount of work.

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Clambering up or down through the forests with a backpack changing my centre of gravity and catching on vegetation, swinging a stick in front all the while to relocate spiders, imagining tracks through the undergrowth and finding the cattle had created hundreds of intermeshed occasional pathways to and from nowhere useful for me, and the day’s temperature rising and passing 30 degrees all contributed to produce a constant world of challenge. Where I chose to walk, I struggled and strained yet I can see that my photos make the ground look smooth and trouble free.

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My photographs show me how beautiful the forests were. Usually I focused on a small shrub, the trunk of a tree or a clump of grass as I walked but now that I am looking at my photos I can see the way the object of my attention fitted into a larger environment. In addition, I love seeing the way the light splits through the bush.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 4 of 13

One of the spiders and the predominant butterflies both attracted my attention because of their prominent orange colourings.  The landscape they lived in was dry and remote and I wondered if the spider’s colouring was a way of distracting or attracting the butterflies onto their web (can butterflies see in colour?).

The spiders caused me considerable work with my trusty walking stick, a stout branch I picked up early in my walk. I was forever circulating the stick in front of me to relocate the spiders and their webs to the side and let me pass. The spiders spread long thick stranded web lines between bushes and tall grasses and tree branches, and then spread their long legs in the centre of a normal circular web at around my chest level.  I guess the whole spider would be around the size of a 50 cent piece. Beautifully camouflaged against a vegetation backdrop coloured in browns, beiges and greys, the odd orange marking was the only way in which the spiders became visible.  You cannot see any of them in the photos below, but they were there.  Hundreds of them. Everywhere.

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I checked the database of all Tasmanian Spiders and did not find a photo corresponding with my memory of the spider on the hills with the orange markings.  I was stunned by the high number of spiders endemic and imported into Tasmania, as listed on this comprehensive website.  I am not so much frightened of spiders rather I never enjoy eight legs running fast and uncontrolled over my body without permission.

An overview of Tasmania’s butterflies indicates 39 varieties are endemic.  After perusing Insects of Tasmania,  I believe the orange marked butterfly flying about the hills between Lake Repulse Dam and Catagunya Dam may be from the Genus Danaus and be commonly referred to as the Wanderer Monarch from the family known as the Browns  (Nymphalidae). But this is only a guess and the butterfly may have been one of the other ‘browns’ shown on this page of the website.

Perhaps a blog follower, as a specialist who knows Tasmania’s spiders and butterflies, can provide more information about the possibilities.

Surprise surprise … as  I type this post I ‘feel (imagine)’ things running all over me and I shudder at the horrible thought.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 3 of 13

The major landmark nearest to Lake Repulse Dam is Bilton Hill with its local telecommunications tower.  That didn’t help me much. I had no mobile phone or internet reception for the entire walk.  The area between Lake Repulse Dam and Catagunya Dam is an isolated remote part of Tasmania.

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I walked on, forever looking down unable not to watch the thousands of cricket insects jumping across the ground and around my legs.  Movements everywhere. Movements may signal a snake so I needed perpetual vigilance.  It was exhausting being alerted by the motions of the constant cricket hops and imagining a dangerous slitherer was the cause of the movement. Only once during the walk did I think I glimpsed six inches of a thick glossy black ‘rope’ disappearing into the undergrowth.  This is not something you check on to be certain.  You just keep going.