Tag Archives: Otago Bay Road

Completing the last northern part of Otago Bay suburb – on 7th stage of my walk along the Derwent River

Where I went and where followers should walk are two separate pathways.  I will describe my walk for your amusement, but you should stay on the highway and not deviate as I did. Only a  masochist would take my path.

Having connected back onto the East Derwent Highway from Otago Bay Road I continued walking north. On route I looked north across the Derwent River to the next suburb Old Beach, as shown in the photo below. I loved the yellow/orange/burnt red coloured gazania flowers which grew wildly along many parts of this route.


Not long afterwards, I reached Murtons Rd and turned left to walk towards the river edge. To my left was the small inlet Woodville Bay. In the photo of the Bay below, I believe the yellow flowers in the foreground are probably part of wild wind-sown canola plants.


This area seemed very rural and I enjoyed the tufts of wild fennel growing near the edge of the road, the green grassy paddocks and the screaming plovers making it clear I was encroaching on their territory. I was delighted when two black lambs raced down their paddock to greet me, obviously hand-reared and very comfortable with humans.  If I had picked them up over the fence it would probably have been a case of ‘Mary had a little lamb … and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to follow’.  Very cute. Very vocal.


Further on, a couple of rough looking shetland ponies appeared on the hill above and in a later paddock, horses nibbled slim pastures.


On my left I had clear views across the Derwent River to the suburb of Old Beach.


I surprised a pair of native hens scratching in the undergrowth.  My arrival disturbed them so they skittered away.  If you look closely in the photo below you will see one running across the roadway leading to a private property.


Soon afterwards, the road on which I was walking came to an end.  Ahead of me through the bushes was the barely visible remains of pathways that others, and perhaps animals, had walked very occasionally. I had the choice to step down onto the narrow easy rocky shore or work my way through these paths which were only a little above water level.  You may recall from an earlier blog, that friend Me and I did some advance research on the possibilities for my future walks. This was one cul de sac we reached. Back then the paths were much clearer.  In the few weeks since we investigated, spring rains and rising temperatures have encouraged the plant life to flourish. I was fine clambering over and under fallen trees and branches and avoiding abandoned car tyres and other rubbish, but then the track disappeared under a thicket. Not to be beaten, and never to retreat, I decided to drop down onto the rocks and continue walking along the foreshore.

Around one corner I was surprised to find a pair of duck parents and their totally camouflaged teenager sleeping on the rocks amidst the flotsam and jetsam of human kind. Their retreat to the water was slow and cumbersome. It was almost as if a human being had never passed this way before.

This was okay for a while until I met with a barrier of tree branches cascading into and across the water.  I realised there would be no easy way over or through. Spotting the makings of a rough pathway on the bank, I clambered up. Before long I was practising something like one does with that ‘pick up sticks’ children’s game: I was lifting one spiky branch and pieces of barbed wire off another and standing on others in order to move my way through an ever more tricky brambling landscape. Vaguely in the distance, through the vegetation, I could glimpse a hill which looked like soft grass. A very attractive vista considering my circumstances.  Between me and that escape route was a tangle of wild freely sown long waving branches of thorny roses, and a forest of healthy but spiky blackberry canes, all intertwined. Going back to Murtons Road was not an option I would consider.  So, rather like a snorting pig, and sometimes down on my knees, I edged my way through. It took quite a while. Surprisingly no clothes were ripped and I received only a few slight scratches. Climbing the small hill of weedy and native grasses was comparatively heavenly by comparison. Then I found myself back on the East Derwent Highway and strode off happily a few minutes after 12 noon.

Into and through the suburb of Otago Bay – part of the 7th stage of my walk along the Derwent River

Before long I could see the water of Otago Bay, and I could see the rusty remnants of the two boats, the Otago and the Westralian. In the photo below, the low mountain on the other side of the Derwent is Mount Faulkner.


Ja and her dog were lively company and walking with her was a big change from my normal solo experiences. We enjoyed photographing each other in this quiet and peaceful place and parted once we reached the interpretative panel near the sunken ribs of the two boats (Westralian on the left and Otago on the right in the photo below).


I was disappointed that the main point of the interpretative panel was not to talk broadly about the history of both boats but to laud the last Captain of the Otago, the esteemed novelist Joseph Conrad.  Over the road, Conrad Drive wound up the hill into a residential area. It seems the author has become most important.  The Westralian is not mentioned at all so I can only imagine other visitors must leave the site quite puzzled about what they are seeing. In an earlier posting I provided detailed information about the Otago, after which the Bay and suburb have been named. The Westralian was a steam ship abandoned and cut down during the 1930s.

It was 10.40am before I left the boats of Otago Bay. I walked uphill – yet again without a formal pathway so I was alert for cars travelling through. There are always ‘lead foot Larrys’ whose press on the car’s accelerator speeds them through the suburban streets as they veer unexpectedly onto whichever side of the road gives them the shortest path to whatever their destination.  Could be a shortcut to God if they are not careful.

This leafy gum-treed suburb is mostly high above the Derwent River and many of the houses sit with grand views. At one point I could see that I was level with the height of the Bowen Bridge in the distance.  It was not possible to walk around the water’s edge and it was impossible to walk around the edge of the cliffs because access to these has been cut off by the gates and fences of private property.

I stayed walking up and down and then up and then downhill on undulating Otago Bay Road.


Some houses were located on 5 acre lots. Some parts of the suburb seemed quite rural without any sign of active agricultural businesses. I passed a creek with croaking frogs and others making a soft booming bom bom, bom bom; a repetitive but very musical sound. Wild blackberry canes flourished. Sulphur crested cockatoos screamed through the trees. The sounds of so many other birds reverberated through the bush. Beautiful. Wonderful.

At 11.10am, I noted a left hand road led to accommodation; the Penenjou Bed and Breakfast. I didn’t walk this road but I imagine that tourists staying out here might find the country to be very attractive and peaceful.  Apparently the homestead is located on a hectare of developed gardens overlooking Mount Wellington.

I continued walking along Otago Bay Road, close to and parallel to the Highway.

At the intersection with Restdown Drive reached at 11.18am, a sign pointed to another accommodation option Otago Cottage (http://www.otagocottage.com.au/). Again, knowing this was a No Through Road, I stayed walking along Otago Bay Road.

Looking inland I could see the smallish mound of Mount Direction.  From experience I know that walking tracks on this mountain can be accessed from the Risdon Dam Reserve near to the Prison and Willow Tavern, way back near Risdon Cove.


I reconnected with the East Derwent Highway at 11.22am, edged the road dodging rain spits, and continued walking northwards.

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From Risdon Cove walking towards Otago Bay along the Derwent River- part of the 7th stage of my walk

For safety’s sake I continued walking along on the Derwent River side rather than on the road side of the guard rail, although there were moments when the edge fell away and so I was forced temporarily back onto the road. This stage certainly would not be one that someone using crutches or a wheel chair could follow. There were no official paths and so I made do with whatever I could in terms of a suitable walking path.

I enjoyed this part of the walk observing more black swans in pairs and families of ducklings out for a paddle.  At the end of the bay of Risdon Cove, I exchanged friendly greetings with a couple of woman who were selling bunches of colourful flowers from the boot of their car on a set back on the other side of the road.

I continued up an incline still on the ‘safe’ side of the railing amidst blown and thrown rubbish, tall weeds, and native grasses.  Whispering casuarina trees separated me from the River. Clearly people have walked here before but it is a rough ‘non-path’.

At 9.54am I reached the turn off signposted to Bridgewater, began the left hand walk downhill, and passed the furry remains of dead possums (unfortunately ex- road-kill).  To my right, on the other side of the road, the 19th century heritage listed Cleburne Homestead and its scatter of old sandstone buildings popped occasionally into view through large trees and bushes.  The Homestead operates as a luxury bed and breakfast art hotel style establishment (http://www.visitcleburne.com.au/).

The photo below shows the Cleburne Spit which inserts itself into the Derwent River, with the Bowen Bridge crossing the River in the distance.


At 10am I arrived at the junction road leading left to the Cleburne Spit. The Spit looked very much like a man made raised wall approximately one or two car widths wide that extends out in a straight line into the Derwent River.  Perhaps it was a series of rocks that once could be walked upon and then someone dropped filling rocks to create a breakwater to fish from or some other activity. I wonder what the real story is. My guess is that the Spit was named after 19th century settler Richard Cleburne.  He was an interesting character who had a property in the area and was suspected of smuggling. Did the Spit figure in such illegal activities I wonder? More information about Richard can be read at http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cleburne-richard-1903.

My view across the Derwent took in the noisy Nystar works previously seen and heard on Stage 6 of the walk.  Immediately next to Nystar and further north, I could see another major industrial site: Incat, a manufacturer of very large catamarans.  In the photo below, a massive white structure has two dark ends. Inside each of these spaces, a new catamaran is being built – usually for an overseas market.


The East Derwent Highway curved in a sweeping right-hand bend from its junction with the road to Cleburne Spit. I walked straight ahead to the River and then curved around to the right keeping parallel with the Highway.  Amidst discarded rubbish, straggling weeds and under the casuarina trees I discovered two plaques: one commemorating the beginning of the building of the nearby Bowen Bridge and the second marking the official opening ceremony of the Bridge. On both occasions an Australian Prime Minister was given the honoured task. Two very strong and formidable men: Malcolm Fraser began the bridge and Bob Hawke opened the bridge.


I followed a short bitumen pathway and stood underneath the Bowen Bridge a few minutes after 10am. Eventually I walked beside the guard rail and, depending on the safety of the ‘non-path’, I walked on one side or the other.  Sometimes there was a sandy rough drop to the water below, and sometimes I was walking next to the River at ‘sea level’.

By 10.07am I reached the sign indicating I had moved from the Risdon area into the Otago Bay suburb.  At 10.11am another sign gave me advance warning that Otago Bay Road was up ahead.

In a pull-off-the-road siding, a middle aged man wearing clean moleskin trousers and a sporting peaked cap advertised new season South Arm Pink Eye potatoes. The back of his truck was open and he sold his vegetables to people who, once their cars had skidded to a halt on the gravelly surface, climbed out of their vehicles for a stretch and then a leisurely meander over to check the goods. There was something slightly furtive about the way he wouldn’t meet my eyes which left me wondering why.

The photo below looks southward towards the Bowen Bridge. One of the vehicles in the distance on the right is the truck selling the potatoes.


At 10.18am I turned left off the East Derwent Highway onto Otago Bay Road.  The sound of traffic in the distance as it poured along the Highway, and the way the wind boxed my ears, meant it was difficult to hear cars coming behind me. Constantly I was watching my back as I walked along non-existent road verges.  I did not discover a safer path for this part of the walk.

Earlier, near the Cleburne Spit, I had exchanged brief friendly words with a woman walking southwards with her dog.  When she caught up with me on her northward return journey, we found we had a great deal in common and spent some time walking together towards Otago Bay.