Tag Archives: London

Walking from Australia to London

I blinked and blinked again.  Walking from my home to London? How would this be possible?  Yes it will be possible … but in 100 – 200 million years’ time when continents reconnect with each other, according to a recent news story: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/australia-on-path-to-join-uk-as-part-of-supercontinent-amasia/story-fnjwl2dr-1227331780435?sv=1e2848859e5b4afa30b76819882202f0&

I reflected that the Derwent River might no longer exist and its beautiful ribbon-like pathway through our landscape might only be remembered in the fault lines of rearranged rocks.

Considering the geological and weather upheavals likely during those intervening years, I imagine the footsteps of human kind will not even be a distant memory.  My guess is that the ant and cockroach populations will have mutated strangely and may be the only lively fauna roaming the planet. If water remains on the Earth then possibly some creatures who can survive in highly acid waters may be in the ascendancy in some regions.

It is rather strange to sit here tapping on my computer and to consider that not only do I expect the human race to become extinct, but all the artefacts of mankind will be obliterated over the millennia.  Having held a career in the museology industry for much of my professional life, I retain the urge to collect and conserve the artefacts of our histories. Nevertheless, these collections and preservations will probably only be valued for a few more hundreds or thousands of years.

On this basis it seems that walking and discovering what we have around us is a much more worthwhile thing to do – at least at the personal level. In an earlier posting I referred followers to the blogsite of a man who took 11 years to walk around the world. Even if I should set myself a similarly outlandish goal, it won’t be possible now to walk from home to London in my lifetime except by using some water or air based technology to move from land to land. What a small dream this is in relation to the expanse of the history of the universe.  But then, humans are not so great when compared to the scale of the universe.

Travelling to the River Source

Please listen to the radio broadcast on Radio National during the Blueprint for Living program of 4 April 2015, provided by host Michael Williams titled Travelling to the River Source.  Go to http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/blueprintforliving/rivers/6070254. Below the options to listen to the audio and download the broadcast, the web site provides the following information:

“Throughout the history of travel, rivers have held a particular place – whether it be as the first trade routes or the more modern experiences of bobbing around for enjoyment. But for a few hardy souls, a river journey wouldn’t be complete if it wasn’t attempted on foot. Maya Ward is a Melbourne writer who travelled the length of the Yarra River in Melbourne a few years ago and Katharine Norbury is a London based screenwriter and author who has also discovered the redemptive nature of walking the path of river from its mouth to its source. Her first book is published this month called ‘The Fish Ladder-travelling upstream’. They joined Michael Williams to explain the appeal of travelling upstream.”

Historic Granton, Tasmania

The northern suburb of Granton on the western shore of the Derwent River adjacent to and extending from the Bridgewater Bridge has significant history in relation to transport and communications across Van Diemens Land/Tasmania. Two heritage buildings, which still stand, are introduced below.

The Black Snake Inn

On stage 8 of my walk along the Derwent River, after I had crossed the Bridgewater Bridge from the eastern shore, I continued south into the start of the suburb of Granton. On that route I soon passed the house in the photo below.

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Located at 650 Main Road, what I was seeing was the building that started life as the Black Snake Inn, apparently Australia’s earliest ferry inn, which was built by the convicts who constructed the Bridgewater Causeway. The Google maps street view of this remarkable building can be seen at https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/650+Main+Rd,+Granton+TAS+7030/@-42.751047,147.229129,3a,52.5y,209h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sTcT1xn5QTiR_rSA4AsFFbg!2e0!4m7!1m4!3m3!1s0xaa6e12713b1bfcbb:0x1a0841b5479abad1!2s650+Main+Rd,+Granton+TAS+7030!3b1!3m1!1s0xaa6e12713b1bfcbb:0x1a0841b5479abad1!6m1!1e1?hl=en

According to http://www.werelate.org/wiki/Person:George_Robinson_%2838%29, Rhode Island born George Robinson erected a new Black Snake Inn on an earlier ferry Inn in 1833 and continued his business at the Black Snake until 1837.  Robinson showed his enterprising ability in a newspaper notice: “MR. G. W. Robinson has this day started a Van with two splendid horses for the immediate accommodation of persons travelling up and down from the Ferries. The Van will leave the Black Snake at half past nine every morning, and leave Hobart Town at 2 o’clock every afternoon…

Charles F Tomkins

Artist Charles F Tomkins (1798-1844) produced a hand coloured lithograph titled The Black Snake Inn and this was published in London by Smith & Elder in 1833 (Reference: http://catalogue.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/item/?id=98999)

According to the http://www.heritage.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahpi/record.pl?RNE10944 record (of March 2015), The Black Snake Inn ‘is significant for its association with Derwent River ferry and road crossings. Until 1836, when the Bridgewater Causeway was completed and before a bridge completed the crossing in 1849, ferry transport was the only means of crossing the Derwent River. It is significant for its initial function as a ferry inn accommodating passengers using the commercial ferry services run by the Inn’s operator. In addition, the Inn is significant for providing accommodation for travellers on the Main Road between Hobart Town and New Norfolk, and those using the Bridgewater Causeway. Between 1819 and 1825 the diary of Reverend “Bobby” Knopwood noted frequent visits to the Black Snake Inn which was often referred to as the “half way” house. Governor Arthur’s Land Commissioners visited the Black Snake Inn in 1826, remarking that its licensee, Presnell, was in the “true Style of a selfish Settler” giving all who passed “all the trouble in his power”. By 1833, the Inn was acquired by George Robinson. By August he had built a “new house’ at Black Snake and advertised the lease for the old inn premises as a possible store. His new Inn was drawn by Louisa Meredith, probably in the mid-1840s and the structure depicted is almost certainly the building known as the Black Snake Inn today, showing the same form. It is possible that a new facade was erected some decades later because the Victorian Rustic Gothic style became more common after the 1840s.’ This website provides extensive additional historical, architectural and social information.

The site http://www.watersideaccommodation.com/downloads/HistoricalSummarytheClaremontAustinsFerryArea04May07.pdf contains an alternative photograph of the building.

I am grateful to Tasmanian collector and historian George Burrows for his reminder to create a posting about the Black Snake Inn.  In addition, he told me… “I am probably one of the few people who have canoed the river from source to Hobart BEFORE the dams were built.”  How remarkable is that!  Very impressive.

The Old Granton Watchhouse

The building, located at the junction of the Brooker Highway, Lyell Highway and the Bridgewater Causeway, was built by convicts in 1838. Extensive information and photographs can be seen at http://ontheconvicttrail.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/old-watch-house-granton.html

The starting point for Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River will be near this Watchhouse.

Freight ships berth on the Hobart docks

After motoring up the Derwent River, I watched a vessel berthing at MAC2/3 (the name of one of Hobart piers) in the early evening. I watched the ship being pushed slowly but powerfully by one large tug boat until nudged evenly to the wharf edge. Having checked the Tasports shipping lists, I could not determine which ship this was because none are listed on that wharf in the time frame in which the photographs below clearly indicate a ship was docking.  I realise it is extremely unlikely their lists are inaccurate so I am puzzled.

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The docking process takes time. During the process a fishing boat passed directly before me.

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The Derwent River is not a busy shipping route like the Thames River is in London; however, there are sufficient marine vessels moving about the Greater Hobart Area to keep any water watchers alert.

A new milestone marking the 13th stage of my walk along the Derwent River: I reached the mouth on the western shore. Whoppee Doo!!

Yesterday, I completed the first part of my walk along the Derwent River: an exciting achievement.

Last August I started walking from the mouth of the River at Cape Direction on the tip of the South Arm peninsula and now, at the end of February, I have completed the distance from that mouth to the Bridgewater Bridge and back on the western shore to Pearson’s Point near the settlement of Tinderbox.

On the 8th stage mid-November, I had the first major milestone when I finished the walk from Cape Direction to the Bridgewater Bridge. This 13th stage was the culmination of walks from the Bridge back to the mouth on the western side of the River.

During yesterday’s walk, I covered about 5km of the length of the Derwent River.  By my reckoning, the total distance of the Derwent River on the western shore from the Bridgewater Bridge to the mouth is 38 3/4 km.

For Stage 13 yesterday, I needed to walk to Pearson’s Point from the bus stop where I finished on Stage 12 and then, on reaching my goal, I needed to retrace my steps back to Blackmans Bay to connect with a bus that could return me to Hobart.  This distance was approximately 17 kms. I have now walked at least 171km not counting getting to and from buses.  But when the walks are staggered over time, this number does not mean much.

The highlights of the walk to Pearson’s Point were mostly small and natural: rosehips, green rosellas, hum of bees, resting sheep, and the taste of delicious ripe blackberries along the way.

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I was surprised how close the northern part of Bruny Island was to the mainland of Tasmania (almost felt like I could swim across the D’entrecasteaux Channel) and I felt overwhelmed by the staggeringly expansive and grand views across and up and down the Derwent River.

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The fun part was singing (including mixing up the words in my excitement) Handel’s Hallelujah chorus (from The Messiah) at the top of my voice when I passed a large sign with the words SING. You can listen to a superb version performed in 2012 by the Royal Choral Society at the Royal Albert Hall in London England at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUZEtVbJT5c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUZEtVbJT5c

Over the next few days I will write up the journey and the discoveries of Stage 13’s walk.  Then I will be looking towards a long main road walk from the Bridgewater Bridge at Granton to New Norfolk which I expect to undertake in the next couple of weeks.  Once I have reached New Norfolk I will be on the way to Lake St Clair, the source of the Derwent River.

Stage 2 on 4/9/2014 Clarence St Bellerive Email 1 of 14

As expected, the early morning (number 640) Metro bus arrived from Hobart at my eastern shore bus stop, and once on board I settled down ready for the new experience of Stage 2 of my walk along the Derwent River. After charging along Cambridge Road, the bus turned left at Bellerive village and commenced the long haul along Clarence St.  It occurred to me that the houses along both sides of the road represented many vintages of free-standing suburban house architecture for this part of Hobart. I was surprised to see Wunderlich panels of decorative pressed metal in the frontispieces of some houses in the gable beneath dual pitched roofs, indicating an architectural age of early in the last century. There were the flat roofs of houses that had more in common with Tasmanian shacks of the 1950s, the three fronted brick veneers, the fashionably rendered homes in tones of dark beige with their black roofs, the remnants of rural cottages from a time before the city sprawl had moved to fill the land on the eastern shore of Hobart, substantial pretty weatherboard family homes, and much much more. If your experience is of the repetitive rows in London streets, the towering repetitive apartment blocks of Moscow, or the repetitive white family group block houses of Athens, then the sight of the houses along Clarence St will be a revelation. Somewhat puzzling but fascinating nevertheless. You will not be familiar with the diversity of free standing houses with their own front and back gardens that so many Australians take for granted, and accept as their right. One family to a large block of land is a situation more prevalent and typical in Hobart perhaps than in other Australian capital cities and it is one of the features that attracts me to this beautiful and interesting city.