Tag Archives: Meadowbank Lake

Glorious photos of Meadowbank Lake

 

Meadowbank Lake is the last expanse of water that has been dammed for hydro power generation purposes, before Hobart.  A good, but narrow bitumen road (Ellendale Road) crosses Meadowbank Lake near its inland western extremity.

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This glorious sight is easily accessible from the Lyell Highway on the northern/eastern side of the Derwent River, or via the tiny towns of Glenora and Ellendale on the southern/western side.

Looking westwards:

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Looking eastwards:

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I have written about Meadowbank Lake before and previously included photos.  The photos in this post were taken one day after completing a walk further inland. I was being driven back to Hobart along the Lyell Highway, and then we deviated by crossing the Lake and proceeding to Ellendale to buy freshly picked raspberries and blueberries.

Only on one occasion have I passed by this Lake under cloud.  Even then, the more sombre colour of the Lake and the less vivid greens, greys and beiges of the landscape were still most attractive.  There are picnic spots either side of the Lake, and public toilets on the Lyell Highway side.  A wonderful location for solo or family visits.

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.

Growing up as a Hydro boy

Thanks to blog follower Mary, I have discovered a series of online stories about past Hydro workers some of whom helped build the Tarraleah Canal No 1 and others who lived near other electricity generating power stations along the Derwent River. These short stories make interesting reading and include photographs of the people and places.

I recommend you look at Hydro Tasmania’s site where the son of Jack Warren records his history.  The photo below from that site shows Jack at Canal No 1 in 1935.

Jack Warren 1935 from Mary

Simon Stansbie’s record of growing up at Wayatinah can be read on the Hydro Tasmania’s website. Ian Berry tells us what it was like to grow up at Butlers Gorge (where the Clark Dam was built to hold back the waters of Lake King William).  You can read this and see photos at Hydro Tasmania’s site.

Collectively these stories give a little insight into the human reality of living and working in remote central Tasmania to create the extraordinary electricity generating infrastructure last century which used the waters of the Derwent River.

Heather Felton published a book, which tells these and other stories of the people of ‘The Hydro’.  Read more about the book: The Ticklebelly Tales.

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Information about the book launch can be read in issues of the Cultural Heritage Program Newsletter ; and at a second site.

I am not sure what the word ‘Tickleberry’ refers to.  Do I have any blog followers with this knowledge?  According to Wikipedia part of Tarraleah, the area for the married quarters of the original community, was known as Tickleberry Flat. In addition, during my walks I know that I have passed an area mapped as Tickleberry Flat which is south east of Curringa Farm, and almost south of the town of Hamilton mid-way along Meadowbank Lake – a long way from Tarraleah.  In New Norfolk Tickleberry Farm grows raspberries.  The name Tickleberry comes up in many internet searches.  The Brighton, Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and Southern Midlands Councils Joint Land Use Planning Initiative – Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan tells us “Hydro-electric power schemes which commenced in the early 1910s saw the development of construction villages across the highlands at Waddamana (from 1911), Shannon (1925), Tarraleah (1934), Tickleberry Flats (1935), Butlers Gorge (1938), Bronte Park (1948) and Wayatinah (1952). As these small communities grew, schools, shops, community halls, medical facilities and offices were established.”

After all of this, I still wonder what the original meaning of Tickleberry is: maybe someone’s name or a common name for a plant.

Meadowbank Lake is a gem

 

Meadowbank Lake is the closest to Hobart of the six large dammed water masses along the Derwent River. It is also the easiest to access via a bitumen road (Dawson’s Road) that exits from the Lyell Highway between the towns of Hamilton and Ouse.  I have now passed this area many times and strongly recommend it for a picnic or a flying visit.

The views from the eastern/northern side

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The views from the middle of the bridge/causeway

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The views from the western/southern side

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Hamilton and Ouse in Tasmania

These two historic towns straddle the Lyell Highway and both are situated a distance from the Derwent River.  Private farms fill the distance. Direct access to the River can only be achieved by driving approximately 15 kms when leaving Hamilton, or when driving from Ouse, the River or Meadowbank Lake can be reached from two directions; one approximately 7 and the other approximately 10 kms away.

Hamilton is located approximately 4kms ‘as the crow flies’ to the east of Meadowbank Lake.  The Clyde River, which passes through Hamilton empties into Meadowbank Lake (and it once flowed directly into the Derwent River before the Meadowbank Dam was built in 1967).  Tasmania for Everyone claims ‘Hamilton had its origins at a time when early European settlement of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) had progressed from Hobart up the Derwent Valley. The first settlers arrived here shortly after New Norfolk was settled in 1807. A ford across the “Fat Doe River” probably led to the first settlement of the area then known as Sorell Plains, with the village first named Macquarie’s Town, and later, Lower Clyde.By 1828 there were a few weatherboard and sod cottages on the banks of the Clyde, whilst by the 1830s a visitor noted there were some thirty sly grog shops as one entered the town. The name Hamilton had already been suggested for the settlement sometime in 1825 when, during a visit, Lt. Governor Arthur asked if Bothwell would not be suitable, being a Scot himself and dining with the mainly Scottish settlers. The “Fat Doe River” was renamed the Clyde and Hamilton and Bothwell chosen as names for the new settlements, both names recalling towns on the lower and upper Clyde in Scotland.
Occupying a strategic location in the development of roads and agriculture, Hamilton became the focal point of the transport of produce into and out of the district.  By 1832 there were sixty persons living in the settlement and surrounding landholders successfully petitioned for a police establishment as protection from marauding bushrangers and a spate of robberies.
By 1835 the district population had zoomed to 779, including 309 convicts and by 1837 the Police establishment had eleven petty constables and a flagellator (for whipping punishment).  With cheap convict labour it was during this period that many of the town’s buildings (which still stand today) and bridges were constructed.
By 1844 Hamilton was a bustling town, with two breweries, six or seven Inns, a blacksmith, stone quarries, mills, three agricultural implement makers and a large convict probation station; it held its own Races and Hunts, indeed development was so promising that the town was marked out as a major country town, in the style of an English town at the time, with squares, an esplanade, a Circus and Municipal Reserve.
A drive up onto the Hamilton Plains shows the roads laid out, and the decaying, dry stone walls are a reminder of the failed attempt by the mainly Irish settlers to farm the rich volcanic but dry soils of the plains. Nevertheless, Hamilton remained a bustling country town throughout the remainder of the 19th century, with the population peaking at 400 in 1881 and developments like the Langloh Coal mine to the northwest of the town in the late 1930s ensured its importance as a major rural centre.
Increasing mechanisation and improved road transport effectively put an end to Hamilton’s growth. Whilst sadly these factors led to Hamilton’s decay and ultimate demolition of some notable buildings, many fine examples remain in the streetscape having an ambience redolent of our colonial history.’ 

Hamilton is located on the far side of the hill in the photo below. The water is part of Meadowbank Lake.

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In Chantale’s photo below, the Clyde River is running into Meadowbank Lake. At the top centre of the photo you can see a few houses and these form part of the town of Hamilton.

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Ouse (pronounced ooze) is located approximately 3 kms ‘as the crow flies’ to the east of the Derwent River between Cluny Dam and the north western end of Meadowbank Lake. Tasmania for Everyone claims Ouse is ‘a small rural Central Highlands town on the Lyell Highway, situated on the junction with the Victoria Valley Road and on the banks of the Ouse River. Ouse is the settlement where convicts James Goodwin and Thomas Connolly broke out of the South West Wilderness four weeks after their escape from Sarah Island. Ouse Post Office opened on 1 October 1835.’

In Michelle’s photo below you will need to imagine that Ouse is located over the low hills in the distance away from the Derwent River.

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John Wadsley’s Brighton, Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and Southern Midlands Councils Joint Land Use Planning Initiative – Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan of July 2010 provides additional historical information concerning the building of bridges to enable expansion and ease transport, the significance of convict labour in settling the Valley, and the growth of farming, the development of industries, and the establishment of hydro power generating facilities.

Catherine Nicholson’s Highland Lakes Settlement Strategy of December 2009 offers further information about the history of settlement in the Derwent Valley.

What I notice, in all the histories of the Derwent Valley that I have read, is that attention is seldom given to the Derwent River rather it is focused on the rivers which fed into the Derwent, and also on the central highland lakes.  The search for fertile soil in which to grow wheat and other crops, and for land offering suitable pastures for sheep and cattle, was of paramount importance.

The photo below shows me in Hamilton. Behind me, the Clyde River (which flows into Meadowbank Lake) is located at the bottom of the hill and edges a delightful park which suits picnicking. I am sort of smiling but I was hot and bothered after a delightful day’s walk elsewhere.

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Aboriginal history associated with Meadowbank Lake

Hydro Tasmania acknowledges aboriginal history was apparent in a cave that is now beneath the waters of Meadowbank Lake in central Tasmania.

In 1977, J Stockton wrote a paper A Tasmanian painting site which adds to the information provided by the Hydro.  The paper provides some background on the submerged cave and indicates that other caves exist with similar markings and ochre residues.

I do not know where these caves are and I wouldn’t want to visit and disturb them even if I knew their location.  Therefore, Chantale’s photo below, showing the north western end of Meadowbank Lake as it receives Derwent River water travelling downstream from Cluny Dam, is simply a picture of one part of the Derwent River system and it is not intended to relate to the location of the caves. I have included it simply to remind readers how part of Tasmania appears these days; that is, with all the signs of European settlement and land control.

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Meadowbank Lake

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Chantale’s photo above shows the north western end (the furthest end from Hobart) of Meadowbank Lake. You can see the trail of Dunrobin Bridge strung across.

Collecting historical information about Meadowbank is not easy, however the information  I have located has added to my store of knowledge.

According to Environmental Flows for the Lower Derwent River Final Report to DPIWE February 2002 Freshwater Systems, Meadowbank Dam is located approximately 107km upstream of the river mouth.  This report divides the lower Derwent into ‘two major sections: 1. The lower River Derwent – the freshwater river between Meadowbank Dam and New Norfolk; and 2. The upper Derwent estuary – the estuary between New Norfolk (in the vicinity of the upstream tidal limit) and Bridgewater.’

A brochure providing information about access to Meadowbank Lake for anglers includes details about Recreational Fishery Management (Meadowbank Lake is managed by the Inland Fisheries Service as a Family Fishery and is open to angling all year round. Regular stocking with brown trout, rainbow trout and trophy sized Atlantic salmon maintains the quality of the angling.); Native Fish Management (The short-finned eel (Anguilla Australis) is stocked upstream of the dam wall. The blackfish (Gadopsis marmoratus), which is native to northern Tasmanian rivers, has been introduced into the Derwent system and may be encountered in the lake.); and Pest Fish Management (Meadowbank Lake has populations of the pest fish species, redfin perch (Perca fluviatilis) and tench (Tinca tinca). If either of these species are caught, anglers are asked to humanely kill the captured fish and dispose of appropriately.)

Discover Tasmania provides information which encourages access to and usage of the Lake and its shores.

Wikipedia gives background information about the Power Station.

The September 2013 LAKE MEADOWBANK PLANNING PROJECT BACKGROUND REPORT  prepared for the Central Highlands Council in partnership with Hydro Tasmania and the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts includes panoramic photographs of the Lake and explanations of many of its aspects.

Hydro Tasmania provides information about Lake- side facilities and also about changing water levels.

A little history associated with Meadowbank Farm since the 1970s can be read at this site.

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Perched between treed hills sits Meadow Bank dam, roughly 15 kms downstream from Meadowbank Lake’s far western end.   Chantale’s photo shows the start of that water catchment behind the dam wall and the Meadowbank Power Station nestled at its feet.