Tag Archives: Liapootah Power Station

Between Wayatinah and Catagunya Power Stations- posting 1 of 6

Anticipating a comparatively easy and short day of walking, my proxy Andrew left Hobart at 7 am and drove westwards and inland along the Lyell Highway, until reaching Catagunya Road where he parked his vehicle at the locked gate.

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A friend drove him further along the highway, turned left just before the Liapootah Power Station and proceeded along the gravel surface of Long Spur Road towards the Wayatinah Power Station.

He arrived at the western side of the Station but needed to be on the eastern side to start this sector of the walk. Because it was not possible to cross over the Power Station outlet, and access through the Power Station is not permitted, Hydro tracks were followed to the most accessible part further away from the Lake Catagunya/Derwent River. Private vehicle access to the penstocks and beyond was prevented by a locked gate on the approach to the top of the penstocks, so the walk started there around 10 am. While it would have been possible to scramble beneath the penstocks, a detour to where the penstock began high up on the hill seemed like a good idea.

Wayatinah’s penstocks consist of two massive parallel pipes that carry water from the tunnel bored through from Wayatinah Lagoon. The pipes are approximately 1.2 km long and are made entirely of timber – coopered like gigantic continuous barrels. To keep it all together they are tightly bound with steel straps which keep the joints snug, save for the occasional trivial leak. Interestingly, inserted into the walls of the pipes every 50 metres of so, is a fire hose outlet (obviously the timber pipelines are not only protected from the inside!).  DSC01655e.jpg

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The walk began by heading around the top of the penstocks where they emerge from the tunnel.

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There is an impressive view down the length of the penstocks to where they disappear around a distant bend for the final approach to the Wayatinah Power Station.

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On the far side of the penstocks a good track leads down to the huge surge tank near the entrance to the power station. The glorious panoramic photo below distorts the view so I have also included a Google Earth aerial shot so you can understand the situation.

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Past the surge tank but before the Power Station, a power line easement heads east, then south east, over a series of ridges and gullies to Catagunya Power Station. The forest next to the track leading to the easement was open with healthy eucalypts, dogwoods and some wattle trees sprinkled across the landscape. The day’s walk was a combination of traversing hills and gullies, and the next photo gives an appreciation of one of the more gentle hills.

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Because of the steep and scrubby terrain, it was not viable to access or follow against the edge of Catagunya Lake (Derwent River) at water level. Instead, following the power line ‘clearing’ was the smart alternative.

Once serious walking along the transmission line ‘clearing’ began, it was obvious that sections had not been slashed in a long while. The going was irregular with patches of scrubby low level vegetation and fallen logs to negotiate so that, occasionally, Andrew walked off to one side for a clearer route. The next photo shows an example of a less straightforward area along the easement under the power lines, and helps to explain why deviating from this line made sense during the walk.

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Derwent River water passes via the township of Tarraleah

 

Earlier this year the entire town of Tarraleah was on the market for sale.  Refer article 1, article 2 , and article 3.

If you were to follow Derwent River water by walking from the western end of Lake Catagunya at the Wayatinah Power Station inland past the Wayatinah Lagoon to the Liapootah Power Station then follow the Nive River to the bridge next to the Tarraleah Power Station (with the Tungatinah Power Station on the other side of the bridge), you could look up the hill to see massive penstock pipes descending the hill from the township of Tarraleah above.

The water falling down these pipes is Derwent River water which has travelled via Tarraleah Canal 1 and Tarraleah Canal 2 after processing through Butlers Gorge Power Station at the foot of Clark Dam that holds back the waters of Lake King William.

I chose not to walk the route via the penstocks and Tarraleah township when walking from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River,  rather to follow the original river bed albeit a scatter of stones and limited water during the summer, between Wayatinah and Butlers Gorge Power Station.

However, knowing that Derwent River water flowed along the Canals and through the massive pipes, I did visit the township of Tarraleah during the period when it was advertised for sale. I was curious to see what the township of Tarraleah looked like (it had been many years since I last visited). Despite being centred within lush dense rainforest, thankfully no rain fell at Tarraleah and the sky was blue and the day sunny when I visited. I approached the town from the highway and followed the slightly snaking pipes.

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At the point where the pipes arrive at the top of the hill and are about to drop down the hill, I browsed public information boards and plaques.

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The views from the township were dramatic. I am forever in awe at the engineering achievements of the past.

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These days Tarraleah is a place that acknowledges its social history from the early days of Hydro Tasmania. I was amazed to see the row of freshly renovated houses each with their own array of pastel coloured paint finishes. Perfect location for a science fiction movie.  I felt there was something strange about its lollipop colours and perfection.

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Afterwards I travelled out of Tarraleah and down to the bridge over the Nive River. The Tarraleah Power Station was partly hidden in shadow from the afternoon sun. My eyes followed the pipes up the hill knowing the township was there on top.

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The Nive River accepts the Derwent River water after processing for electricity generation through the Tarraleah Power Station.  The water passes through a series of further management processes, and ultimately empties into Lake Catagunya and then continues its long journey towards the sea.

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I have heard rumours the Tarraleah township sold but I cannot find records supporting this.  I haven’t one idea how a buyer could get a return on an investment of $11 million at Tarraleah, so I will be very interested to hear what will happen to this piece of Tasmania’s history.

Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – what is the ‘real’ Derwent?

Will the real Derwent River please stand up!   Where should a person walk if they are ‘walking the Derwent’?

Since the Clark Dam was built in 1952, the Derwent River has not flowed from the area now known as Lake King William downstream across its original bed, until closer to Hobart.  Instead the Tarraleah Canals number 1 and 2 accept Derwent River water from Clark Dam/Lake King William at Butlers Gorge in central Tasmania.  These canals channel the water to penstocks that feed the Tarraleah Power Station.  Electricity is generated and then the water flows on to create more electricity at Liapootah then Wayatinah Power Stations.  Eventually the water empties into Lake Catagunya.

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The old Derwent River bed is stony.  Along its length between Clark Dam and the bridge at Wayatinah, seepage from the steep hills creates pools of water.  There is sufficient water, although limited, to create a continuous running flow between the stones.  At the end of Spring the river bed looking upstream from Wayatinah was as follows:

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Michelle’s photo shows another view.

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In January the water level had dropped and the river bed looked like …

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Similarly, between the bridge over the Derwent River bed at Wayatinah and the river’s meeting with the Florentine River, and downstream almost to Lake Catagunya, the river is often a stony bed with limited flow.

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Upstream from the junction of the Florentine and Derwent Rivers, upstream from the Wayatinah Power Station, I walked on the river bed where I could.

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To ‘walk the Derwent’ should one follow the original river bed or the Canals or a mix of both?

Since Tarraleah Canal number 1 runs more or less parallel to the old river bed and is usually located under 500 metres from that river bed, I chose to walk next to the Canal along the section before it turned inland to travel to Tarraleah Power Station. I rather liked the idea of staying as close to the original Derwent River course rather than following man-made deviations. However this ‘walkingthederwent’ project does raise the question as to what constitutes the ‘real’ Derwent River. Does it exist any longer? And therefore, is it possible to walk the Derwent?