Tag Archives: New Norfolk

Alpacas with a river view

Before I had walked 3 kilometres west from New Norfolk, I was pleasantly surprised to pass a beautiful 19th century grand country house. Photos of the Atherfield House wearing a coat of an inauthentic pink can be seen at http://www.atherfield.com/ and I am delighted to show you the house with its current more sympathetic colour.

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Last week the deciduous trees on this property were yet to flourish with flower and leaf, but the spring bulbs splashed colour in dotty clumps.

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The history of the house has been summarised at http://www.atherfield.com/history.shtml. It seems that this building started its life in the early 1800s as the Help Me On Inn which later was named the Ark Inn.  Over the early decades, when convicts were transported inland they were housed overnight in one of two stone cells still existing beneath the house.

Immediately next to Atherfield House I spotted a paddock containing grazing alpacas.

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View  Atherfield Alpacas for more of these soft gentle-appearing animals.  The Atherfield House and property sits next to the main road over which lies a slip of vegetation then the river. I wonder if the alpacas enjoyed their view of the fast flowing Derwent River as much as I did.

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Starting out last Thursday

Blog followers know I have waited almost impatiently for Spring weather to arrive; I had been so eager for my walk from New Norfolk to Gretna to be pleasantly memorable.  At home the early morning sun shone and Hobart sparkled.  At 8am the Derwent Valley Link bus departed from the city. I was the only passenger until well into the Northern Suburbs when school kids jumped on and took over – as kids do.  By the time the driver dropped me at New Norfolk central the sky was grey and a stiff cold wind blew. The day seemed as dull as the car park (note the bus shelter in the centre).

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Determined not to be distracted by the weather, I headed off towards the bridge over the Derwent River, past the historic Bush Inn.

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I was ready to follow signs.

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I needed to follow the road which led to the Salmon Ponds (although I expected to bypass this location during my walk), however I deviated to the right so I could stare at the Derwent River from the bridge.  At first I looked down onto the mown lawn where I finished Stage 14 of the walk.

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Then I swung around to look at the river from the inland/western side.

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After retracing my steps I was ready to embark on the next adventure. After turning into Glenora Road (designated as B62) on the southern/western side of the Derwent River, I proceeded past St Brigids Catholic School.

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Between the few suburban houses I caught glimpses of the river and then, within minutes, I was leaving New Norfolk.

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For many kilometres, my view of the river was rationed. Occasionally I spotted the beautiful river through an inaccessible profusion of weeds. Mentally I stripped away the vegetation and loved the changing surfaces of the river and the speed with which it flowed.

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Everywhere I looked was lushly green or silvery blue. I was thankful that the overcast sky allowed the colours to reverberate and seem so much richer.

Lots of R&R on Stage 15

There was no rest although perhaps everything I did was recreation. The R&R’s I had in mind were quite different.

I had little choice but to walk on Roads and Railway lines for the majority of my experience from New Norfolk to Gretna. You can deduce from my previous posting this wasn’t where I wanted to walk.  I had hoped for soft ground directly next to the Derwent River as much as possible.

Roads

Over the first kilometres west of New Norfolk, the bitumen minor road towards the townships of Plenty and Bushy Park was narrow, and the road verges were tiny or non-existent.

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To my right, initially house blocks got in the way of my ability to access the river directly. Before long it was metal guard rails, steep drop offs, and weedy tangles which provided a permanent separation. I walked patiently along the road edges changing sides every few minutes to try and get the safest side where I was least likely to be side-swiped by speeding vehicles. Natural gutters with stagnant green slime, or dry mini gulches below the road edges required me to be careful not to tip over when stepping off the road. Apart from not being knocked down by traffic, keeping my balance and not twisting an ankle were paramount concerns. Up and down, across and back.  These were the rhythms for many kilometres.

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In that early period I thought of owners walking their dogs; dogs off a lead. You know – the dog runs ahead then runs back to you then runs off and runs back etc etc.  In the end your dog has ‘walked’ two or three times as far as you. Similarly, as I stepped into and climbed out of gutters, the distance I covered seemed to double or triple.

At some points along the road, the guard rail was only a foot / 30 or so centimetres from the road making it very dangerous to be walking such sections. To protect myself, when a stream of cars was approaching I stood with my back to the rail and backpack hanging over towards the river, and held myself tightly against the rail so that the whoosh of cars or their side mirrors wouldn’t catch me.  It was on one such section that a couple of cars approached and the front one slowed (with the second doing his best not to ram accidentally into the front car, and crash into me at the same time) and stopped in front of me.  The old fellow rolled down the window and asked if I needed a lift. I pointed out he was going in the direction I had walked from and that I was happy to continue in the other direction on foot. Thanks but no thanks.  As I moved on, he drove off.

Later a couple of people stopped and offered me a lift. I think all offers were genuine. But I accepted none. I stood out on the road as an oddball. People just don’t seem to walk much anymore; certainly not on highways and byways.  And road planners show no expectation of pedestrians in their designs.

Some of the road surfaces were rather special. I rather liked the green lichens gradually growing across the black bitumen; I guess there is simply insufficient traffic numbers to wear it down, in this part of the world.

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The special patchwork quilt of a road shown above made me wonder whether this bit was at the extremities of two local government areas. I suspected that both Councils might be thinking that repairing this road was the responsibility of the other.

Occasionally I had the bliss of walking on smooth green soft grasses away from potential close contact with traffic.

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On other occasions the green was deceptive with uneven ground hidden beneath, sometimes containing rabbit scratched holes.

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Road bridges over rivers provided me with the greatest stress mostly because each was unavoidable and I needed to cross over them. Narrow with only two-lanes and without a pedestrian pathway, these were usually preceded or followed by sharp enough corners so drivers were onto the bridge before they could see what else was on the bridge.

Plenty River bridge

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Styx River bridge

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Towards the Derwent River bridge

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I gave the bridge over the Derwent between Bushy Park and Gretna a lot of thought, including considering whether to hitch a ride across it, before taking a deep breath and walking across. The bridge was long with a sweeping corner at one end. It had only one lane with signs at each end that indicated to drivers they should not enter the bridge if another vehicle was travelling across. I was aware that massive multiple-trailer log trucks were regularly on the road, as were other heavy and large transports, and of course locals who whizzed their way everywhere at high speed.

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I wondered how much drivers could be trusted to follow the directions and to slow down. I waited until there was no sound of oncoming traffic from the two distances, and then I hastened across.  But the view distracted me; it was so wonderful looking up and down the river that I felt compelled to take a photo in both directions. I clicked quickly as a large 4wheel drive flashed onto the bridge. I held myself back against the rail as he sped past glowering all the way.

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Railways

First and last I walked on main roads but in between I often had no alternative but to walk on the variously rotting sleepers of an unused railway line.  I couldn’t create a walking rhythm: the sleepers were irregularly spaced and irregularly sized and the spaces between each were filled with rocks, gravel, dirt or grass and weeds. Sometimes there was no fill.

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In this region, the railway line runs on the northern/eastern shore and then, about two thirds of the way from New Norfolk west to the district of Plenty, it makes a diagonal line crossing the Derwent River.  I met the railway on the southern/western side and was able to walk under the old sandstone supports on the river bank before proceeding westwards by following the river closely.

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Later I reached the railway bridge over the Plenty River, where a quick reconnaissance indicated some sleepers were missing and others looked suspiciously like they might disintegrate under weight. My weight.

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For 30 seconds I thought about whether to cross the bridge. I decided that walking on the metal rail track could be safe enough for those experienced with walking on gymnastic balance equipment, but not for those carrying a backpack, nor those easily thrown by sporadic wind gusts. Instead I detoured onto Glenora Road crossed the road bridge and then made my way off the road and back to the railway line.  Thick impenetrable vegetation prevented me from walking closer to the river so I stayed on the railway line for many kilometres, with an occasional foray closer to the river. However, mostly I found it impossible to proceed and returned to walk on the railway line.

This railway line walk should be a stunning place in autumn especially where rows of well-established poplar trees marked the edges. I know the leaves of poplars turn gloriously yellow after summer.

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Towards the end of day one of Stage 15, an impending rainstorm seen at the end of one stretch of line prompted me to look for a suitable campsite.

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A while later I pitched my tent beside the line.

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Next morning the sun was shining, despite very low temperatures, and the glorious views lifted my spirits. I received a text from blog follower Ju that Rail Track Riders http://www.greatrailexperiencestasmania.com.au/event/rail-track-riders/?instance_id=485844 would be in motion along the line during the day. What I surprise for them it would have been to find my tent on the side of the line – but I was well gone before I suspect there was a movement at any station back up the track.

After Bushy Park and en route to Gretna I saw my first railway sign when the track crossed the road.

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Looking back, clearly no railway vehicles had travelled this way in a long time.

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Now cyclists and governments are discussing ways in which to turn this old railway track into a cycling corridor.  But no one is talking about edging closer to the Derwent River.

Thwarted by barriers

I am deeply dispirited. I have some sad news. My impulsive project to walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River will be thwarted by greed and other human characteristics of a negative nature. Despite this situation, I am working on a new plan to reach the source of the Derwent River at Lake St Clair Lagoon in a physical and meaningful way and, once I have fleshed out the details, a future post will offer an explanation.  Meanwhile, after you read the following, your suggestions will be most welcome.

During stages 1-14, from time to time I recorded how access to the actual river edge was sometimes denied me because properties were fenced and gated.  I bemoaned the fact that across Tasmania, in many instances the law provides that property owners own land and water to half way across rivers. While a ‘grace and favour access’ or by ‘a permission granted approval’ process exists in some places, much of our river edges cannot be walked freely.  Yet in so many European countries ‘right of way’ paths and walking trails across the land have been taken for granted for centuries so there is much more freedom to simply enjoy being outdoors.  Non-indigenous settlement is too recent in Tasmania so a criss-cross of ‘ancient’ walking paths has not been established, and the pathways of the inhabitants prior to settlement, the aborigines, either have been obliterated or knowledge of their location is not easily available to the non-indigenous population.

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Photo of the Derwent River taken through a house block on the western edge of the town of New Norfolk.

The damage is done and to repeal laws and ‘take away’ land from owners would be political suicide, and cries of unfairness and for expensive compensation would abound. I can imagine the legislation arose partly from consideration of the practicality as to who or which organisation would maintain the thousands of kilometres of river edges across Tasmania and keep them clear from bracken, blackberry brambles and exotic weeds.

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Can you spot the River through these profusely growing weeds?

While walking for leisure purposes has a history in Tasmania since the beginning of European settlement, our early legislators did not have a crystal ball to see that the 21st century is one in which many people want a healthy lifestyle that involves exploring and accessing our natural environment without barriers.

Unfortunately, a damaging minority of people are greedy, thoughtless, and cannot be trusted to meet their promises.  The consequence is what I found during Stage 15 and what I can foresee for Stage 16.  I soon realised that almost no free/public access to the River exists between New Norfolk and Gretna, and it seems this will also be true for any future inland push along the River.

After leaving New Norfolk on the westward proceeding Glenora Road on the southern/western side of the Derwent River, I soon registered paddocks and more paddocks had been recently re-fenced with fresh spiky barbed-wire.

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Note second fence line inside and parallel to the barbed wire fence line.

This year, the Australian Federal Government budget made a concession for small business owners and granted an immediate full tax deduction for expenses up to $20,000.  My conclusion was that farmers in the Derwent Valley grabbed this opportunity and used it to protect the limits of their properties.

As a child my father showed me how to pass through barbed wire fences. The process is best with two people but one can do it. You put your shoed foot on a lower strand of wire to hold it down, then pull the next one up and slip through the enlarged space hoping not to be spiked by the barbs.  But today’s farmers in the Derwent Valley know this trick. Since they don’t want people on their land, the wires are now extremely taut and the spacing between many lines of wire is only about 10-15cm.  If an adult expects to pass through the barbed wire fences of Derwent Valley farmers then Dad’s technique cannot work.

Barbed wire fences were not my only barrier to accessing the Derwent River.  Gates presented insurmountable challenges.  Almost all gates that I arrived at were padlocked. That hasn’t always stopped people accessing a property because the use of strong square wires or other metals in gate construction usually helps you with a footing to lift up and over the top.  Not so with many Derwent Valley farmers’ gates.  The new gates either are ringed in barbed wire or are wrought iron with high straight verticals which provide no place for feet.  For me these were unclimbable.

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Very occasionally I came across older fencing that had minimal or no barbed wire and seemed very climbable. But alas. These fences had an additional strand attached; an electrified line. Intended to keep the cattle in and from trampling fence lines, these electric fences were an absolute barrier for walkers like me.

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In places, farmers had cleverly left overgrown tangles of thorny blackberry canes that extended down paddocks and into the river, as an impossible barrier near their fence lines.

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I came across signs such as ‘Private Property’ and on one occasion the sign warned that ‘Trespassers would be prosecuted’.

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Even access was limited to the very open Sports Ground at Bushy Park, one which contains almost no infrastructure. This Sports Ground edges the Styx River as it flows into the Derwent River.

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The sign pictured below was particularly annoying because it was suggesting that permission might be given if a request was made. However, I couldn’t get access to ask for permission to walk across the land.  Once on the spot, there was no way to discover who the landowner was and then to somehow connect with them using technology.

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On a particularly wonderful luscious green hill that wound around the Derwent heading for Gretna, one where walking close to the river would have been a great pleasure, the sign ‘Trespassers will be shot’ was a strong deterrent.

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During my walk I had decided that perhaps anglers had not respected the limited access they were given to the River at key points, via styles over fences. I mused that perhaps fishermen had strayed further than permitted, wrecked fences and generally not left the land as they found it.

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Blog follower Jo told me a story of how a few men had prearranged with a landowner to come and fish in his dam. After their weekend of fishing they emailed the landowner with thanks for the opportunity to take home 50kgs of fish. Needless to say, this greed was rewarded by the owner telling the fishing party never again to ask for permission to enter his land.

Later at the Gretna Green Hotel where I waited for the bus back to Hobart after completing the Stage 15 walk, I talked with a local about the reason for the impenetrable barriers to properties.  Apparently wood lifting, and cattle and sheep rustling used to be rife in the Derwent Valley until farmers closed their borders.  Not only would people drive onto properties to chop down trees and collect sufficient fire wood for their own personal needs, they would bring trucks in and take loads away to sell.  All without the permission of the land owner.  Similarly, whole cows and sheep would disappear in their droves overnight.  Regularly.  Modern day farmers’ costs are high, their income comparatively low for the hard work they put in, and so they were unprepared to subsidise the living of others. Their fences and gates have become good barriers – not perfect, because occasionally some unscrupulous wanderers bring bolt and fence cutters.  Nevertheless, as a walker with no intent to leave my mark on the land, I cannot proceed.

In my last steps walking into Gretna, I passed the two paddocks through which I envisaged Stage 16 would start. But both had impassable fences and gates with padlocks.  For the next stage, which was expected to cover the area from Gretna to Hamilton via the river, there are at least 4 property owners and who knows how many padlocked gates, bramble congested river edges, barbed wire and electric fences. It is not realistic to ask owners to come and unlock the padlocks and then relock them after I pass through.

While it is true, and you will read details in future posts, that I did access the river from time to time during Stage 15 and experienced some wonderful locations, for most of the walk I was deeply depressed about the limitations under which my project is being placed. I am pleased that writing this post has helped purge some of that anger and frustration. Now that the situation has been recorded, I feel much more ready to be positive again and determine a new way  to reach my goal.  The goal remains the same, but the process must be modified.

Stage 15 of the walk along the Derwent River has been completed!

On Thursday and Friday this past week, I followed the Derwent River and walked from New Norfolk to Gretna via Bushy Park.

Over the coming week I will write new posts detailing my experiences, presenting you with river and landscape vistas, introducing some of the people I met, providing information about aspects of Derwent Valley social and agricultural history as I found it, and showing you a range of animals. In addition, I hope to entertain you with instructions on how to pitch a light tent in a strong wind.

I have now covered approximately 230 kilometres in my quest to walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent.  By simple measurement, I have passed approximately 87 kilometres of Derwent River.  Please refer to How Far Have I Walked for further information.   Please note that under Frequently Asked Questions I have added new information.

As a result of my findings on this Stage 15 walk (which I will detail in later postings), I believe insurmountable problems exist that will prevent me from proceeding along the River as planned. Therefore, I will need to modify my plan yet still achieve my aim to meet the source of the Derwent River at the southern end of Lake St Clair Lagoon. On this basis I cannot say when a new Stage will be walked.

The Derwent River a short distance west from New Norfolk

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Looking from the Bushy Park bridge north-eastwards towards Gretna

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Dams on the Derwent River

Maps

The Derwent River will always be your guide if you choose to walk along its length, but sometimes it is difficult to walk directly next to the river; for example structures may be built to the edge, steep drop down cliffs may raise you many metres above the water, and gates and fences may make access impossibly impassable.  In addition, when the terrain forces you away from the river, the vegetation may be sufficiently dense so that you can get lost (without map and compass – and GPS if your technology allows).

If you choose to walk the entire length of Tasmania’s Derwent River you might consult one or more of the 17 maps which cover the territory. One value is that you learn the name and shape of landmarks. Have a look at the list below:

Maps

Derwent Valley Gazette

Despite the Derwent River emptying into the sea approximately 60Kms east from New Norfolk, reference to the Derwent Valley usually centres on New Norfolk and further west then north west. The reach of the Derwent Valley’s newspaper extends further to the highlands around the hundreds of lakes in central Tasmania. The Gazette (http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-gazette-derwent-valley/textview)  is the ‘voice of the valley’.

The Gazette front page Aug 2015

I expect this regular newspaper will provide insights into local conditions and activities which might impact on my future walks.  For example, I have discovered there will be an Ouse & Highlands Festival on Saturday the 17th October. An entry on the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/Ouse.festival) gives an indication of progress: ‘As part of the Children”s entertainment at the Festival we now have The Balloon Lady booked in as well as a Face Painter. It’s looking good.’ Another future activity will be the first stage of a trout fishing contest, the Tasmanian Trout Classic scheduled for the 29 and 30th August somewhere near New Norfolk.  Subsequent stages will be held at Arthurs Lake and the Great Lake.  Apparently last year’s contest attracted ‘huge interest from around the Valley, with a great crowd at daily weigh-in.’ It is a different world in the Valley: recent players at the New Norfolk Golf Club found ‘the entire course was frozen, but that didn’t stop some red-hot scoring.’

I look forward to reading more snippets of information about that new world inland from Hobart.

Walking again – not yet

Regular blog readers know I am eager to restart my walk inland along the Derwent River, and that my next travel date is dependent on the weather being suitable.

Despite unexpected occasional snow flurries in the higher areas, Hobart’s rising temperature and minimal rainfall has become more agreeable by the day, so recently I decided that it was time to tackle the walk west from New Norfolk to Gretna at the end of this week.

Unfortunately, the long range weather forecasts in the Bushy Park area, where I will be camping overnight before passing through, indicate the mornings will be -3 degrees and the days only rising to 14 degrees maximum (I cannot see any pleasure in breaking the ice in the morning to make a cup of tea).  In addition, a few splashes of rain are forecast. In reading these projections, I am reminded that the climatic situation in Hobart is not the same as in areas located many kilometres inland.  So, regrettably I must let a few more weeks pass before continuing on.

For me the perfect walking environment includes a temperature of between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius, a sunny day preferably without a cloud in the sky, and almost no breeze (definitely no wind). Before each walk I hope rain has cleaned the air so that all the green vegetation sparkles – but that everything I stroll through is no longer wet. During the early walking stages, I had quite a few of such lucky days – and I am hoping for more.

Wild West with Ray Mears

Blog reader, Be, alerted me to the third in a BBC program series, ‘Wild West with Ray Mears’. This episode focused on mountains and followed Mears travelling through the Appalachians, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada to evaluate the landscape and its effect on the early European settlers as they moved west in North America.  Be indicated there was river edge walking and this reminded her of my quest to walk along the Derwent River in Tasmania – so I was eager to watch the documentary.

Ray Mears and Wild West DVD cover

I found that Ray Mears did access various rivers and streams to emphasize parts of his story, but direct connections to my walking project were slight. However, I found his story to be important because it has prompted me to ask new questions about the Derwent River and its most recent European settler history.  Hopefully others have already conducted research and can supply me with some answers – any leads will be welcome.

  • After initial settlement in Van Diemen’s Land at Risdon on the Derwent River in 1803, what was the nature of the westward push along the Derwent River by European settlers? Do we have names of the people and families of those who moved west? What are the dates associated with these movements?  What are their stories?
  • Why did they move along the River? Did they stop and set up camp, house or agricultural property? Do those buildings or farming properties still exist?  Is the land now in private or organisational hands or is it Crown Land? Or were people only passing through?  If so, what was their intended destination? Did people moving inland along the Derwent find some parts of the wilderness edging the River made their further progress impossible so that they moved away from the River? What are the movement stories?
  • To what extent was the River used for transport between Lake St Clair and New Norfolk? Where and when? What was transported on the River? Can anyone name ships/boats that were used? Were there recognised ferries across the River above New Norfolk?  I know the Derwent River has a series of rapids further towards the source.  Did these inhibit river travel?
  • In the rivers of the United States’ Rockies mountains, the ‘mountain men’ trapped beavers for their fur. Their fur was used to create a strong felt which could be used for those increasingly tall hats that were fashionable in the 18th century. What was the nature of any trade in possum skins and those of other animals that might have persuaded hunters to walk the Derwent River?  What are their stories?
  • Massive removal and usage of natural resources supported the westward movement of European settlers across America. When did forestry operations and logging commence west of Hobart in the Derwent Valley and how was the Derwent River used to support those operations? What mining expeditions and investigations were made along the Derwent River? When and by whom?  What were the outcomes of these searches and trials and finds?

Ray Mears met with a muleteer who explained why he loved being in the wilderness: ‘I leave no trace as I pass and just move through like a shadow’.  I hope that is how I walk.

Shelter for the walk

In future months I will be sleeping out on a few nights when I head off from New Norfolk towards Lake St Clair trudging beside the Derwent River. In the past few days I have outlaid outlandish sums of money when I purchased the lightest sleeping bag and tent.  Collectively they weigh 1.99kg.  We all have our priorities and mine is clearly to walk to Lake St Clair with the minimum of discomfort.  For others who might follow in my footsteps and expect to seek the lightest gear, as an example here is what I bought.

  1. The tent, a Marmot Force 1P, has a bright lime green shell supported by slim ‘Featherlite’ steel rods. In this one person tent I will be able to sit up (head zone is 91cm high), load the contents of my backpack at my feet (length less than 2 metres), and sit my backpack outside in the triangular vestibule.  It has a full coverage fly. The documentation with the tent indicates the package weighs 1.06kg.

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Yes this is the tent set up in the comfort of my loungeroom!  It was a trial installation; first the tent and then the fly.

  1. The sleeping bag is a Mountain Design Ultra Tek 470 with a black 20 Denier shell, a vivacious orange coloured zip defining one edge and the inside of the bag is aflame with more brilliant orange fabric. Pertex Quantum is the windproof fabric used to reduce the weight without sacrificing strength and abrasion resistance. IApparently the fabric’s softness allows insulation in the sleeping bag to have more loft. A special feature is the water repellence of the 750 Duck Down Tek fill. The sleeping bag, including the stuff sack, weighs a mere 0.93kg.

Sleeping bags are temperature rated in 3 different measurements:

  • Comfort (C) is based on a standard adult woman having a comfortable night’s sleep
  • Limit (L) is based on the lowest temperature at which a standard adult male is deemed to be able to have a comfortable night’s sleep
  • Extreme (E) is a survival only rating for a standard adult woman

The temperature rating guide for my sleeping bag is C=1, L = -4, and E = -21 degrees.

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I still need to obtain one further comfort item; an inflatable mattress which weighs next to nothing.  More research required.

Unspeakables. Unmentionables.

Where ever we walk some sort of crime is likely to have been committed in past years, centuries, or millennia – that is, if the concept of crime is part of the culture.

In the past week, Tasmanian police have been hopeful for a breakthrough in the search for Lucille Butterworth, a young woman who has been missing for almost half a century, believed murdered.  Reports indicate that police ‘have the best lead yet with credible new information leading them to the lonely gravelled roadside area 8.5km from the Granton turn-off on the Lyell Highway’. The location is next to the Derwent River.

Having seen the latest news media photos, I remember walking this section of the road on my jaunt from Granton to New Norfolk. It was the section where no road verge offered protection from the traffic and I needed to walk on the tarmac.  No sign of human habitation.  Only vehicles with their racing drivers charging along the highway.  I had no clairvoyant moments that day – I never felt the presence of anyone interred in the land nearby.  But I hope the scientific and systematic exploration of the area between the road and the Derwent River will bring answers to the many questions which the family have lived with for decades.

Lucille disappeared at a time in history preceding the invasion of mobile phones.  By all accounts she waited for a public bus in Hobart’s northern suburbs but the bus never arrived so she accepted a ride with someone in a passing car.  These days, a person in a similar situation would simply phone a friend or a relative for help.

Should a blog reader have more information about Lucille Butterworth’s disappearance please contact Tasmania Police.

Hobart to Lake St Clair in 1850; mostly by foot.

Another of the stories published in Hilary Webster’s compilation: The Tasmanian Traveller A Nineteenth Century Companion For Modern Traveller, recorded the Journey of F.J. Cockburn who on foot travelled ‘From Hobart to Lake St Clair and Return’ in 1850.

The Tasmanian Traveller

Cockburn seems to have been the butt of nonsense advice when he asked around for the best time of year to walk from Hobart to the remote inland Lake St Clair, which is located roughly in the centre of Tasmania. He tells ‘I received replies which induced me to start on May-day.’  By that time of year, temperatures are plummeting and the further you progress away from the coast of Tasmania the more the rain settles in.

He took a steamer to New Norfolk and then it rained for 4 days.  On one of these early walking days he found an essential bridge had been washed away with the deluge. His crossing was memorable. ‘The river remained impassable until 7th, when by letting a long ladder down from the remnant of the bridge onto the ruins of one of the piers, I was able to cross, like a monkey, before an admiring audience’.

Miles later he ‘stopped at a little eating house, in a damp situation surrounded with wet fields …” What was wrong with F.J. Cockburn’s powers of perception?  All the weather signs indicated that proceeding further at that time of the year was a bad idea.  Then came more reasons for abandoning the walk; ‘the last six or seven miles of my day’s journey was along a regular wild bush road, affording admirable opportunities for murder and robbery.’

Despite these factors, F.J. Cockburn persisted with his journey. After losing his way at one point he came across a hut with two shepherds who fed him mutton chops, damper and tea. “My bed was formed on the floor near the fire, of sheepskins, and I was very thankful that it was too cold for fleas.”

When he reached Lake St Clair, his appreciation of the lake was stymied. ‘The sides of the lake being covered with dense forest, almost impenetrable, it cannot be seen to advantage without a boat, and boat there was none.’

Cockburn summed up his experience of Lake St Clair as ‘certainly a gem in its own way. It is as fine as any Scotch lake of its size, excepting in the beauty of the foliage on the banks. It was a wild and striking scene.’

F.J. Cockburn carried a satchel weighing ‘about twelve pounds: one shooting coat, waistcoat and trousers; one pair of shoes; three shirts; three flannel waistcoats; three pairs of socks; three handkerchiefs; one pair of braces; one neck-tie; one travelling dressing case – and when I started, half a pound of “nailrod” tobacco.’  I can’t help wondering how small this man was – these days the clothes on this list would weigh much more for the average sized walker.

He concluded ‘on the whole I was pleased with my trip; the roads were bad, the country wet and the air cold, but on the other hand, the grass was more vividly green than at any other time, the air was clear and crisp, there were no fleas, and walking was pleasant in the cold.’

Long-term followers of this blog know that I found the start of my last walk (in April) from Bridgewater/Granton to New Norfolk way too cold. This led me to the decision to put on hold any further walking towards Lake St Clair until Springtime when the temperature starts to climb towards summer.  I am in awe of walkers around the world who like being cold and wet and find pleasure in achieving walking goals in such environments.  Perhaps I am too soft!

More natural beauties stages 11 -14

As some followers remarked on earlier postings, my selection of past photos on different walk stages has given me a chance to ‘relive’ the experiences. Here are some favourites from the last 4 stages of my walk along the Derwent River.

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I love the Hobart wharf area with its crab and other fishing vessels.

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I love the pretty 19th century buildings lining Hunter St, one of the first settled areas in Hobart.

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I love the drama of the Federation Concert Hall where the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra presents great performances.

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No water is spared. The Parliamentary gardens are always lush and green.

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I love the juxtaposition of the old and new: at Wrest Point Casino; at Lower Sandy Bay’s Blinking Billy against new modern houses.

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Fresh beaches. Serenity.

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Public sculpture.

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Coastal walking tracks.

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Great signage

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The heritage listed Shot Tower near Taroona

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A rough bark and branch ‘hut’ near a track. Shelter from any rain?

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Natural rock caves

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Dramatic viewpoints

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The sun. The reflections.

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Looking at, listening to, smelling the bush.

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And I appreciate the glories of introduced trees and man-made vistas.

Collectively these images provide a reminder of what sits beside the Derwent River as it flows from New Norfolk to its mouth.

Water Taxi ferry stops operation

Many weeks ago I  joined a group of mad hatters (the Scarlatt O’Hatters local group all decked out in purple clothes and donning elaborate red hats) on a river journey upstream from Sandy Bay to New Norfolk on the Derwent River.

I loved the historical information which the water taxi driver provided about features as we passed the shoreline of the river. He deliberately drove the boat into particular bays with specific and interesting histories. At that time, I had walked both the eastern and western shores of the Derwent River and had researched and seen a great deal, however, during the boat ride I gained new information.  More delightfully I saw the land from a new angle and appreciated the Derwent River quite differently.  It was an experience about which I enthused to friends and encouraged them to try.

So it is not surprising that when, not so long ago and since that memorable trip by water to New Norfolk, the story of the ceasing of this water taxi business became big news, I was stunned.  You can read more at http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/hobart-water-taxi-operator-rod-howard-winds-up-after-seven-years-of-feast-or-famine/story-fnj4f7k1-1227278029630

I am very sorry that Rod Howard felt he had to pull the plug and close the service.

The Derwent River is an extraordinary resource which should be used frequently by commuters and tourists. The harbour is one of the most picturesque in the world, yet people are have not been patronising services sufficiently for someone to be gainfully employed. Alas, there are no longer any commuter services on the water, and apart from the MONA ferry, the Peppermint Bay cruise and the historic old Cartela, there are few other locals boats plying the waters to carry locals and tourists around.

New Norfolk

New Norfolk is a Tasmanian inland town which sells itself as the Capital of the Derwent Valley. The undulating countryside around and the more majestic peaks in the distance make this town one of the most beautifully set in the region. The town’s social and cultural history is rich and the architectural remnants are everywhere to be seen.

The website at http://www.newnorfolk.org/ contains much interesting information and I particularly like one of the image pages where an early photo of a building or location sits next to a more recent photo in the same spot.  From this website you learn that ‘New Norfolk was the third planned settlement to be undertaken in Tasmania, after Hobart and Launceston.’ 

On the history page, you will learn about the connection between the Norfolk Island penal colony and the settlement of New Norfolk.

‘New Norfolk was at first known as “The Hills” because of its setting among hills, valleys and gentle streams.   In 1811 Governor Macquarie came to visit Van Diemen’s Land.   He mapped out a town site and named the town “Elizabeth Town” (after his wife) in the District of New Norfolk.  The name did not catch on although it was used on and off from 1811 to 1825, but the local settlers, wanting to preserve a link with their old island home, won the day and the town was officially known as “New” Norfolk. The stream called the Thames by the locals, was renamed the “Lachlan” (pronounced Locklon) by Governor Macquarie (in honour of his son). However, although it retains the name to this very day, it is pronounced as “Lacklan” by the locals, much to the confusion of newcomers.’

I strongly recommend this site for its extensive information and superb historical photographs, drawings and reproductions of lithographs.

A second site at http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/about/regions-of-tasmania/hobart-and-south/new-norfolk offers additional information and recommendations for things to look for. when visiting the area. In particular, a convict Betty King/Mrs Elizabeth Thackeray was mentioned as being the first European woman to step onto Australian soil.  You can read more about her at http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/settlement/display/70623-betty-king and it seems she was buried in a Methodist Church cemetery on Back River Road in New Norfolk (as per the map below). Unfortunately my Stage 15 of the walk, when the weather begins to warm next Spring, will not deviate from the Derwent River to look at this – but if you are visiting, maybe the site will be worth a look.

Map of Betty Kings memorial New Norfolk

My favourite time of the year to visit New Norfolk is autumn when the leaves turn red and gold so that the town almost seems to be on fire in places. Quite wonderful. Notwithstanding this, the other seasons of the year offer their own special characteristics, making the town always interesting to visit. And when the weather fails, you can immerse yourself in the many antique shops.