Tag Archives: Otago Bay

Who am I?

Increasingly blog followers have questioned my enigmatic no-name status.  I have been secretive about my identity to protect myself from predators and weirdos. My surname is so rare that I wouldn’t want someone to track me to my house. When the walk was over I intended to reveal and explain more about myself so everyone could understand why I presented myself only as Tasmanian Traveller.

Despite this approach, for people who have emailed me, I have opened up a little more.  For the woman from upstate New York who visited me and asked to walk on some of the sections she had read about in my blog,  of course she got to learn so much more about me.  And she, and others, have been most respectful and careful to keep my gender and characteristics neutral and non-identifying. Thank you.

Now that the process for my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River is evolving, I no longer see a need to retain my protective shell.  From now on, there will be safety in numbers as I walk with one or more friends.

So who am I?  My name is Helen Tyzack and I come from a working history in the visual arts and museology industries, plus an overlay of working in or for many different types of education institutions, government agencies and not-for-profit organisations.  All my life I have walked to get around, keep costs down, to be kinder to the climate, and to experience the beauties of the natural environment at close quarters. A few years ago I sold my car and have walked or used public transport ever since.  As a female, I have wanted to walk alone in remote and isolated country and by maintaining my anonymity this has been comfortably possible.  I am on the mature side of 60 years of age, short in stature with an overweight body, various health challenges and perpetual problems with my feet.  But I refuse to let these characteristics and impediments prevent me living; they slow me but they do not stop me. I will not let them stop me. I am energised by the possibilities of discovering new places, and my walk along the Derwent River has exceeded all my expectations. In recent years I have flown off to different countries around the world to learn and experience new adventures.  It has been one of the greatest surprises that the Derwent has offered so many revelations that the thought of overseas travel has been halted.  I guess it is always easier to think somewhere else will be more interesting yet a place right on your own doorstep can offer ‘the world’.

Helen at Otago Bay 2014

The photo of me above was taken by a passer-by as I walked past Otago Bay at the end of last year on Stage 7 of my walk along the Derwent River.

For each of the 15 walking stages completed so far, I have walked alone and independently, and have only been supported by public transport when buses deposited me at a starting point and collected me from each walk’s destination. I have realised this practice cannot continue because of the limited public transport options available in central Tasmania. As an alternative, I have decided to try a UBER-style approach to transport – friends are offering to be my chauffeur and in some cases they are offering to walk with me.

To cope with the constraints of private property restrictions, I am working with locals and others to obtain various kinds of alternative access to the Derwent River.  No project ever goes totally to plan and that is the joy of exploration: discovering new ways to meet changing personal expectations keeps my brain active and my mind vitally alive.

During my last walk, I reached the township of Gretna. From now on, as I head inland towards Lake St Clair, I expect to be accompanied by a friend who will drive me to key locations. Whenever we ‘touch’ the river I will walk north and south along the edge to the extent that the river and the landscape allow.  Gradually, I will walk past the river until I sink down with pleasure on the dam wall at the southern end of St Clair Lagoon with my goal achieved.  The next stages of my walk will represent the collection of the final pieces of a fabulous patchwork quilt – and once I have all the pieces, I will stitch them together into my blog to record a sequential and seamless walk from Gretna to Lake St Clair.  And then I will write two books: one will be a how-to-do-it publication for tourists and locals who want to understand how to use public transport to discover the river edges, and the second book will be a fictionalised account of my walk.

Another revision: naturally therapeutic images from stages 7-10

I can’t help myself. Having reviewed my favourite images from the first half a dozen stages of my walk along the Derwent River, I felt compelled to continue looking through my collection from the subsequent walks.  I have chosen photos showing aspects of both the natural and man-made world and I believe all will prompt thinking about the Derwent River, Hobart and its suburbs, and the natural environment. My selection of the images with the most memorable impact for me, from stages 7-10, are given below.

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From the eastern shore looking northwards towards the Bowen Bridge, with a couple of black swans on the river.

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Two plaques ‘opened’ by two great Australian prime ministers near the Bowen Bridge.

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The rusting raw-edged remains of a ship, the Otago, at Otago Bay.

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My enjoyment of any family’s black sheep.

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Heading into Old Beach and gradually leaving Mount Wellington behind.

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The gloominess of the approaching storm when I reached Old Beach.

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The pleasures of well-made pathways, thanks to local government.

Green Point from new Old Beach

Looking northward across the Jordon River to Greens Point.

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The glories of native flora. In these instances, it was blooming wattle and a spectacular stand of eucalyptus/gum trees which attracted my attention.

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The remains and the signs of a burnt out car on a back track.

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Knowing that it is still possible to have a laugh when walking.

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Arriving at the Bridgewater Bridge.

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Walking on the western shore of the Derwent River for the first time during this project.

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The house of one of first European settlers, James Austin, at Austins Ferry.

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At Dogshear Point, walking around the Claremont golf course, with the thwacking sound of hit balls crossing the greens.

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Reaching Cadbury’s chocolate manufacturing factory in Claremont.

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The hand-hewn rustic style seat near Connewarre Bay.

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Passing MONA somewhat camouflaged as it nestles into a tiny hill against the Derwent River.

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The mosaics along the foreshore.

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The jumble of boats and boat houses at Prince of Wales Bay.

Hoon tyre marks

Road mark making in Lutana.

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Cornelian Bay’s oil tanks up close.

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The Tasman Bridge.

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The circus had come to town.

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The emptiness of an arena of stands waiting to be filled during wood chopping competitions.

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Reaching the ‘end of the line’ on arrival in Hobart city.

From Windermere to McCarthy’s Point via Coonewarre Bay on my 9th walk along the Derwent River

The track from Windermere southwards was not signposted but with hunches I found a well walked and easy informal track, the start of which was rather obscure.

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More black swans swimming.

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I loved the tall stand of pine trees which featured on one part of the track to Connewarre Bay.

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This was my first view of Connewarre Bay with the backdrop of prominent Mount Wellington.

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Once near the houses with their lawns extending to the water’s edge, I came across a wonderful piece of rustic furniture to be enjoyed by walkers such as myself. The wood’s soft grey weathered tones were immensely attractive.

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Further along, I came across a large family of what I think were Eurasian Coots – black feathered with white bills. My books suggest these birds are found on fresh water lakes and swamps. The Derwent River, at this distance from the sea, apparently still has a saltiness from the daily tidal flows. Perhaps my identification is incorrect. Anyway this family weren’t sure whether to scurry from the shore onto the water and ‘escape’ from me or not.

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I continued walking around the Bay towards McCarthy’s Point.

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It took half an hour reaching McCarthy’s Point from Windermere. I loved the view across the Derwent River towards the suburb of Otago Bay with Mount Direction behind.

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Colonial Artists, the Derwent River and the Glenorchy area

A number of 19th century artists made visual references to Roseneath on the Derwent River within the current City of Glenorchy. These include Joseph Lycett, George William Evans and James Taylor (no not ‘Sweet Baby James’) all of whom may have a connection with each other as I will explain.

Background to Joseph Lycett

Let’s start with Joseph Lycett who left a significant body of work depicting Sydney and Newcastle in NSW, and a few pieces named with features along the Derwent River.

Lycett didn’t come to Australia by plan. He was a forger and the British government transported him to Sydney with a sentence of 14 years.  He arrived in 1814. It was clear he had skills and was almost immediately given a ticket of leave on landing, but he couldn’t help himself. Within 15 months Lycett was illegally printing bank notes for use in NSW. His new sentence was relocation to Newcastle for hard labour in the coal mines. I suspect there must have been something charismatic about this man despite the Australian Dictionary of Biography alleging Lycett had ‘habits of intoxication’ that were ‘fixed and incurable’. Before long his abilities were noted and he was out of the mines and drafting designs for new buildings in Newcastle.  In 1821 he was finally pardoned and left Australia for good the following year. But Lycett never visited Van Diemen’s Land.

I wondered how he came to produce the well-known pictorial publication Views of Australia or New South Wales & Van Diemen’s Land, published by John Souter, London, 1824-25 described by eminent Australian Art historian John McPhee as “the most lavish pictorial account of the colony ever produced”. McPhee has come to the conclusion that Lycett couldn’t help being a con man. Though his views of Van Diemen’s Land were supposedly scenes he had witnessed, McPhee (quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald 5/4/2006) says “there’s no doubt he never went there”.  We can be surprised to learn that when Views In Australia didn’t sell in England as well as Lycett hoped, he turned to forging bank notes again. He must have loved his printing press!

So I began to research how Lycett ‘knew’ what the Derwent River and the surrounding land looked like.

When Lycett first landed in Sydney, Governor Macquarie was ruling the colony. During Lycett’s sojourn in Newcastle, Macquarie became acquainted with the artist’s pictorial records of the colony. In 1818, the Governor received the personal gift of a chest. Lycett had  painted eight of the twelve panels on this chest with views of Newcastle as well as copies of William Westall’s Views of Australian Scenery.  In 1820, the year Lycett returned to live in Sydney and earn a living as a painter, according to http://www.nla.gov.au/selected-library-collections/lycett-collection ‘Governor Macquarie and Elizabeth Macquarie were among his patrons’. Obviously impressed, Governor Macquarie sent a selection of the artist’s work to Lord Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonies, in England.

But what does this have to do with the Derwent River?

What is the story about Joseph Lycett’s Tasmanian (then named Van Diemen’s Land) pictures? Well … Governor Macquarie visited Van Diemen’s Land on two occasions: in 1811 (before Lycett arrived) and in 1821 (a few months before Lycett left for England). I love connections and so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Governor Macquarie named the Austins Ferry area as Roseneath when he visited Van Diemen’s Land in 1821. Did the Governor make drawings and bring back sketches?  This is doubtful.  It is more likely that others went to Van Diemen’s Land at the Governor’s request, brought their sketches back to Sydney and that these were shown (perhaps some were given) to Lycett.

I wondered whose sketches, paintings or etchings Lycett saw, and then ‘used’.Two people with drawing skills have been suggested: George Evans and James Taylor.

First, let’s consider George Evans.

In the first two decades of the 1800s, Governor Macquarie sent surveyor George William Evans to Van Diemen’s Land off and on a number of times for short trips to remeasure land previously granted (misconduct involved); various sources suggest different years so I am not sure exactly which years in the second decade of the 1800s Evans was in Tasmania; some suggestions are Sept 1812 to Aug 1813, 1814, July 1815 to 1817. Wikipedia suggests that on two occasions Evans was granted valuable acres of land near in the Coal River Valley near the town of Richmond outside the Greater Hobart Area.

According to  http://www.daao.org.au/bio/george-william-evans/biography, at the end of 1818 Evans was able to resume office as Deputy Surveyor-General of Van Diemen’s Land. His travels around Tasmania are recorded in his Geographical, Historical and Topographical Description of Van Diemen’s Land… (London, 1822). One of his watercolour sketches of Hobart Town was used for the foldout aquatint and etching used as the frontispiece in the original edition. Another of the town was published by Ackermann of London as an independent print. Both depict Hobart as a thriving British colonial seaport town with court-house, commissariat store, St David’s Church, warehouses and numerous domestic dwellings in evidence. A surviving original (Dixson Library) shows a competent understanding of watercolour technique.

The website http://www.nla.gov.au/selected-library-collections/lycett-collection offered: As well as being a competent surveyor and a resolute explorer, Evans was an artist of some note. His aquatint view of Hobart in 1820 was published as a frontispiece in his Geographical, Historical and Topographical Description of Van Diemen’s Land … (London, 1822; second edition, 1824; and a French edition, Paris, 1823). The original, with another aquatint of Hobart in 1829, is in the Dixson Library of New South Wales.’

Second let’s consider James Taylor.

Military officer, Major James Taylor, arrived in Sydney in 1817 with the 48th Foot Regiment. Taylor produced a number of paintings and prints throughout his tours and his panoramic works of Sydney were particularly popular. He travelled to Van Diemen’s Land with Governor Macquarie in 1821. On 15th February 1822 he sailed to Britain with the Macquaries on board the Surry.  Only 50 people including the crew were on board for this 5 month trip around Cape Horn and it is easy to speculate that Macquarie and Taylor would have talked about Lycett.

Comparison of art works

I decided that comparing the works of the three artists Evans, Taylor and Lycett might help me to understand where Lycett’s Tasmanian images came from.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate sufficient of the work of Evans and Taylor to make a solid comparison despite knowing Lycett’s work very well (having worked in the Newcastle Art Gallery for a number of years in the presence of a substantial collection of Newcastle district related images by Lycett). Nevertheless some images for Evans and Taylor are available.

Examples of Lycett’s art

Below is an image of Lycett’s etching (see below) titled Roseneath Ferry near Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land dated 1 December 1824 (two years after Lycett left Australia). The etching was published as plate number 4 in Views in Australia or New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land Delineated. London: J. Souter, 1824. This etching is held in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Lycett is looking across the Derwent River from somewhere above the western shore and southwards so that the ‘hill’ in the distance to the left of the picture is Mount Direction (you may recall I walked past this as I passed the Bowen Bridge on my way from the suburb of Risdon to the suburb of Otago Bay on the eastern shore).

Lycett in  colour

The image below, also by Joseph Lycett, is another hand coloured etching, this time from the viewpoint of the eastern shore.  The title is View of Roseneath Ferry, taken from the Eastside, Van Diemen’s Land and it was produced in 1825 (when he was already living in England).  One of the edition of this etching is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Lycett View of Roseneath Ferry from the eastern shore 1825

The image below is Distant View of Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land, from Blufhead Plate 28 from Views of Australia or New South Wales& Van Diemen’s Land,  published by John Souter, London, 1824-25. This handcoloured aquatint and etching is held in the Joseph Brown Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Lycett Distant view of Hobart Town VDL NGV

Examples of George Evans’s art

The image below comes from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-22/1819-slnsw-south-west-view-of-hobart-town-1819-george-william-e/5689410 It is titled South West view of Hobart Town and dated 1819

Evans Hobart

The image below comes from http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/s/search.html?collection=slnsw&meta_e=350

George Evans Hobart Town 1828

Hobart Town, Vandiemen’s Land. 1828 At lower left is printed “G. W. Evans. Pinxt.”; at lower right “R.G. Reeves. Sculpt”; underneath title “Published 1828, by R. Ackermann, 96 Strand, London” he image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW.

Examples of James Raylor’s art

I could find no image by James Taylor that was related to Van Diemen’s Land. I only found two New South Wales images.The image below is from http://www.afloat.com.au/afloat-magazine/2010/july-2010/Lachlan_Macquarie#.VHAuwPmUdqU and titled Panoramic view of Port Jackson c.1821

James Taylor Panoramic-view-of-Port-Jackson-c1821

The image below, from http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=326892 is an aquatint of Port Jackson and Sydney dated 1824.

Aquatint of Port Jackson 1824 by Major James Taylor

This panorama of Port Jackson and of the town of Sydney was taken from a hill near the Parramatta River, was produced with ink on paper by Major James Taylor, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1820, then engraved by Rittner et Goulpil, Sydney / Paris in 1824. The Powerhouse Museum (Sydney) provided the following information:

‘Statement of significance

In 1820 Major James Taylor created a series of watercolours on paper which, when joined together, formed a panorama of Sydney. When he returned to England in 1822 (did Taylor and Lycett travel on the same ship? – more research required) Taylor arranged for the engraving and printing of a three sheet panorama based on his watercolours. Known as ‘Major Taylor’s Panorama’, this is one of the most informative depictions of Sydney in its early years. Taylor, a topographical draughtsman attached to the 48th Regiment, arrived in 1817 when Sydney was thriving and Governor Macquarie was trying to turn an ‘infantile’ penal colony into a ‘civilised’ society. Taylor’s pictures were intended to be a record of that change. The view, taken from Observatory Hill, encompasses Sydney Harbour from the Heads to Lavender Bay, showing many of the major buildings of the day.
Convicts can be seen cutting the sandstone which provided building material for Sydney’s expansion. The many fences indicate gardens and a respect for private property. The harbour is filled with trade and military ships. Government House and its stables can be seen set in Governor Macquarie’s private park called the Demesne. Much of this park still survives as the Botanic Gardens and the Domain. This area contrasts markedly with the small cottages in the middle ground which were typical of many in The Rocks. They were often occupied by convicts and their families who were encouraged to develop ‘respectable’ habits like gardening in their spare time.
A prominent building is the Military Hospital, built in 1815, where patients can be seen dressed in long coats. On the horizon are the impressive buildings of Macquarie St, including St James Church, the Hyde Park Barracks and the General Hospital. To the right of the Military Windmill is Cockle Bay, later called Darling Harbour. The land beyond is the Ultimo estate owned by the surgeon John Harris. To the far right are the windmills that gave rise to the name Millers Point.
Topographical artists often included indigenous people in their work. These images were intended to educate European viewers about the appearance and customs of the ‘natives’, but such depictions were informed by symbolism and ideology rather than a representation of reality. In Taylor’s panorama Aborigines stand amid uncultivated bush, in contrast to Europeans who are clearing and grazing the land. When the British took possession of New South Wales they argued that, as the Aborigines did not ‘work’ the land, they did not own it. This supported the notion of ‘terra nullius’ or nobody’s land. Taylor’s representation is a graphic rendering of that argument.

Production notes

The engraving is based on watercolours by Major James Taylor. Taylor was a topographical draughtsman attached to the 48th Regiment. He arrived in Sydney on the convict transport Matilda on 9 August 1817. He accompanied the Macquarie’s on their tour of Tasmania in May and June 1821 and some of the Tasmanian views in Joseph Lycett’s Views are probably based on Taylor’s drawings. Taylor received some training in draughtsmanship as part of his military studies and like other military and naval officers, was interested in his surroundings and recorded them in watercolours. Little of Taylor’s work survives, notably the originals of this view of Sydney Harbour. This image is held in the Powerhouse Museum collection.’
My conclusion

Lycett’s style is quite different from each of Evans and Taylor so it is difficult to attribute the work of one or the other as being the ‘aid’ to Lycett’s Tasmanian etchings.

There are three possibilities.

  • Lycett took the shape of the landscape around Roseneath from Taylor’s drawings. I am guessing that since Taylor accompanied Governor Macquarie to Van Diemen’s Land in 1821, he probably went to Roseneath with the Governor on the day that Macquarie named Roseneath. It is conceivable Taylor rushed up a few sketches and it is these that either Taylor showed or gave Lycett, or Taylor gave to the Governor who showed or gave them to Lycett. Perhaps the three of them met in London on arrival in 1822?
  • Lycett had access in Sydney to Evans maps of the land, and using their flat two dimensional nature, he fabricated a three dimensional landscape. If indeed he worked in this way, then the odd shapes of some topographical features of the landscape in Lycett’s pictures from and towards Roseneath can be explained.
  • Lycett had access to both Taylor and Evans work and amalgamated them to create a fictional but partly realistic depiction of Tasmanian sites. Lycett’s history is one of creativity, so sticking to the facts of the situation wouldn’t necessarily be important.

Incidental extra

In conclusion, there is one connection between the current Hobart and the Derwent River and the early 19th century Joseph Lycett – which could never have been foreseen.  I discovered that Lycett was on the list of prisoners that sailed to Newcastle on 8 July 1815: the name of the ship was the Lady Nelson. Pride of place on the today’s wharf at Hobart is a training sailing replica, the original having been stripped, burnt and sunk in 1825.

Rocks 240 million years old – 7th stage of my walk along the Derwent River

Having left Otago Bay and now walking along the Derwent River edge of the East Derwent Highway, the green hills soon disappeared. I calculated that to have entered the Highway from Otago Bay Road and stayed on it would have cut half an hour off the walk, at least.  Once a little way north, I looked back to the river edge near the end of Murtons Road and reflected on the insanity of the path I chose. I like the photo below because I can see where I have just been at the water’s edge in the distance. In addition, I am seeing one side of Mount Wellington with the awareness that once I travel inland further, this will disappear from sight.

As I continued the walk, over the Highway was a wall of rock which continued for a while.

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When I spotted an interpretative sign installed on the rocks, I crossed the road to investigate.  The rocks and ground were teeming with Portuguese Millipedes crawling over the surface looking for a mate.  Rain encourages them to get on the move and, trust me, they were moving.  Thankfully they are completely harmless to humans.

I arrived at the sign at 12.15pm and was glad to be able to read some geological information that was related to the fauna which was living 240 million years ago. This was the time when the Paleozoic era was in transition to the Mesozoic era.  Dinosaurs were dominant in the later period, while in the earlier time, fish, insects, spiders and shells developed.  It seems that increasingly large water creatures were around at the time when these sandstone rocks were formed.

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Once walking along the river again, I stopped to admire the views in all directions.  Looking back, Mount Direction rose up (I knew it sat just behind the Bowen Bridge where I had walked earlier in the day). The rural nature of the area below the small mountain is evident closer to the water’s edge.

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By 12.25pm, I had passed a sign indicating I had reached the locale of Old Beach, and I’d stopped and looked at the headland containing the Cadbury’s chocolate factory on the western side of the Derwent River.

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Walking beside the guard rail on the water side for safety, rather than the road side, was not an easy experience.  Also, it was not safe in parts especially where the slippery gravel dropped down to the water side. Nevertheless I persisted where I could and, after brushing beneath a wattle tree, came out the other side perfumed. A clean sweet smell. Very refreshing. On the rocks, a lone Pied Oyster Catcher wobbled away nervously.  I could see his future meals through the clear water.

Around some more corners, and I arrived at Cassidy’s Bay.

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.