Tag Archives: Lake Repulse

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 11 of 13

My first touch with civilisation was a gravel road after I had crossed a challenging fence and stepped between dozens of fresh almost liquid cattle pats (but no cattle in sight).

I followed the road to the river and saw the sturdy bridge. Floods would never sweep that piece of engineering away!

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Would you believe I did not notice the following sign denying pedestrians access until I had walked onto the bridge and then retraced my steps up the gravel road? I later wondered whether the sign meant no access down to the river – and there was none that was safe for me.  The sign was unclear.  It was definitely easy to access the bridge.

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The views were stupendous from the bridge: maybe one of these will become a background for your computer.

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I followed the road, and dutifully kept my pace under 20km an hour.

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Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 10 of 13

I enjoyed the walk from my camping spot to Catagunya in the early morning.  Except, as usual, I didn’t enjoy negotiating fences.  Getting from one side to the other took time. Most were rather challenging. Frequently, I needed to unhitch my backpack, lift its 14kg weight in a clean and jerk manoeuvre and tumble it over a fence.  Then I would walk up and down the fence line until I found the easiest (never easy) place for me to crawl under the fence, climb over or squeeze through the fence.  Back to the pack, heave it onto my back, and adjust the straps.  Thankfully the paddocks were huge and I could never see all sides at the same time which means I didn’t have as many fences as one might imagine for this distance. The fences followed the curves of hills and disappeared over crests.  I only ever saw two gates.

From the smaller second dam I followed a creeklet down down down to an almost hill-less flatter space that bordered a section of Lake Repulse.

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I turned north-west and meandered up a smaller hill slope until Catagunya Dam came into view.

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Ahead of me were extensive paddocks with sheep.

Beside me, to my left through a thick edge of trees Lake Repulse/Derwent River streamed away in a south-easterly direction.

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Solid thick trunked trees stood sentry near the water beside rocky outcrops which defined the River edges and stopped the expansion of vegetation.

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I looked back from where I had come; way behind all the hills you can see.

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I looked forward to my destination.

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I looked around about me.

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How beautiful the country looked with its softened edges.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 8 of 13

 

When I reached the top of one of many hills, the heat of the day was intense and weariness forced me to stop.  I ate a little lunch. Sipped a little water. Thought about its reducing quantity. Lay down in the shade. And fell asleep.

Increasingly, I was acknowledging my water situation could become serious.

At the start of my walks I carry two one-litre bladders (Think 2kgs of weight).  By the early afternoon I estimated this quantity might not be sufficient: I realised that the hot weather, the energy required to navigate my way around contours and up and down hills, the need to have water to cook with, clean the teeth, and continue on, were likely to deplete my supplies. If I didn’t find water to replenish my resources I could be in trouble.

As it turned out, the first creek with the brown running water was the only source of water that I might have drunk, if pushed.  Later creeks trickled sluggishly and pools sat with green slime and algae.  Obviously no rain had flushed these creeks in ages.

By late afternoon I decided to head inland to a man-made dam of water clearly marked on the map; I was walking away from the River but I needed water and this seemed the only sensible solution.  I walked up and down more serious hills until the dam was in view (can you spot the dam in the first photo?).

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After walking for around seven hours, this nameless dam was a huge disappointment.  The water edges were pudgy with cattle trampings so that the mud oozed up around my walking boots and threatened to suck them off my feet. And the low level of water left in the dam was a thick brown mix. Unreachable and undrinkable.

That night, I didn’t cook because water would have been required. Instead I finished eating my lunch for dinner.  Again at breakfast I ate food which did not require rehydration. At no time did I brush my teeth, although I would have loved to. Keeping water to sip was more important than niceties.

Next morning I walked for two hours to reach the Catagunya complex.  No creeks ran with clean water on the way.  Cliffs and rocky edges made the water of Lake Repulse inaccessible.  I thought that the bridge over the Derwent River at Catagunya might allow me to drop down and brush my teeth, but again – no access. Impossible.

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Thankfully when I arrived at the Catagunya Power Station, a couple of work cars pulled up.  Inside I was able to refill my water containers and brush my teeth.  Thanks Hydro Tasmania.

I have written before about the challenges of walking and worrying about water. The irony is that the Derwent River is a mighty liquid machine, the water of which can be seen – but mostly it cannot be touched. If a person wasn’t able to keep walking, and didn’t have a Personal Locator Beacon, it would be easy to die of thirst in this remote part of Tasmania in the summer.

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 2 of 13

Thanks to Ieky I was driven to Lake Repulse Dam.  I rounded a fence line and left her enjoying the early morning before the temperature rose.

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Gradually I walked up my first hill for the day.

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From the bottom of the hill, the top seemed easily achievable. Unfortunately, that view gave false hope. As I reached the first crest another rose above, and this continued to be the way the land was shaped.  Up and up I walked on the cleared land behind the steep forested section that rose from Lake Repulse.  Looking back, Lake Repulse Dam was hidden in the trees.

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The distant forward views offered the prospect of more uphills but not before I could see I would need to put in some ‘down time’.

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By mid-morning the day was stunningly beautiful.

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I began to realise any access to Lake Repulse was a dream.  The steepness of the hills and the dense forest coverage were significant impediments.  I could see the Lake but I couldn’t reach it.

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Sometimes I would walk down the hills towards Lake Repulse, and shudder when I looked back.  I knew that later I would be required to climb up to the height of that which I had dropped down from.  But I kept on trying to reach the water.  Down I would go.  Be stymied. Then up I would go either over cleared land or through forests.

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And the day grew hotter.  It was heavy going. Nevertheless, I recognised the big wide sky, the solitude, the hard sounds of crows, and the shape of the landscape were all immensely beautiful and beguiling. I felt awe at the size of the country, and marvelled at its colours and textures.  Who wouldn’t feel profound happiness to be alive in such a wonderful arena! What a privilege I have been given.

Lake Repulse Dam

Lake Repulse Map

Looking inland, Michelle’s photo shows the Lake Repulse Dam wall backed by Lake Repulse, with Cluny Lagoon in the foreground.

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Looking towards Hobart, my aerial photo below shows Lake Repulse, the Repulse Dam and then Cluny Lagoon in the distance.

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Chantale’s photo provides an excellent overhead view of the Lake Repulse Dam. The photo also gives walkers an indication of the challenges which the landscape offers beside Lake Repulse.

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For vehicle drivers, the Dam is reached by heading westward past the Ouse township, turning off the Lyell Highway and travelling down Lake Repulse Road. Aerial views show the roads at the Dam site clearly.

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The road continues across the Derwent River below Repulse Dam giving you an excellent opportunity for a close look at the structure.

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The western end of Cluny Lagoon, located a little downstream from the Repulse Dam, is stunning.

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To walk further inland around the Dam wall and then along the edge of Lake Repulse, the following photograph gives an indication of the landscape to be encountered.

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Michelle’s photo below shows part of the 8 km long Lake Repulse is a handsome water storage area.

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Historical information can be read, although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information.  Hydro Tasmania provides details and adds a technical fact sheet.

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).

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 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.