Tag Archives: River

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 11 of 13

My first touch with civilisation was a gravel road after I had crossed a challenging fence and stepped between dozens of fresh almost liquid cattle pats (but no cattle in sight).

I followed the road to the river and saw the sturdy bridge. Floods would never sweep that piece of engineering away!

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Would you believe I did not notice the following sign denying pedestrians access until I had walked onto the bridge and then retraced my steps up the gravel road? I later wondered whether the sign meant no access down to the river – and there was none that was safe for me.  The sign was unclear.  It was definitely easy to access the bridge.

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The views were stupendous from the bridge: maybe one of these will become a background for your computer.

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I followed the road, and dutifully kept my pace under 20km an hour.

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The complex that makes up Wayatinah – posting 5 of 7

The Florentine River flows into the Derwent River.

Westwards from the Wayatinah Power Station, Andrew and I covered some kilometres of bush, clambering over fallen trees and through a mesh of understorey vegetation.  The marks of mankind were clear despite the absence of tracks; various weeds were flourishing.

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And through the bush in two different locations a well secured lidded white box sat alone with a surname and phone number written on top.  These were not bee hives and we could not determine their function.

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Once we had walked further westwards past the meeting of the Florentine River with the Derwent River, the Derwent presented with a low water level and stony river base.

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However there were sections containing more water.

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Along the way we discovered the remains of an old shed and an ancient water level monitoring system, through which a bush fire had passed.

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Bits of iron and steel were scattered through the cleared surrounds.

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I loved the way the corrugated iron had been ‘stitched’ with wire to create the building. Very enterprising.

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Amidst this debris a lone native orchid bloomed.

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Down next to the river bed, a water level height gauge was marked in imperial measurements, therefore indicating a date before the mid-1960s.

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We wondered what sort of electronic or satellite related devices and measurement tools were used these days.

I found this trackless walk to be very hard going (at the pace Andrew set) because negotiating the bush took thought and time.  I reflected on the challenges this section would pose if I had been carrying a full backpack.

Michelle’s aerial view gives an idea of the dense bush on the top side of the River where we walked.

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The complex that makes up Wayatinah – posting 2 of 7

Wayatinah Lagoon

Having taken a turn off Long Spur Road, Andrew and I were the only visitors to this misted expanse of water on the 29 October 2015, the characteristics of which were almost total silence and an immense sense of quiet peacefulness.  I felt privileged to stand in such a serene environment, and smell the clean fresh air.

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Watch the video.

A boat ramp, away from the infrastructure that accepts the water to be transported to the Wayatinah Power Station, ensures the safety of anglers from any unexpected water level changes.

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Michelle’s aerial photo below gives some indication of the size of this Lagoon, and the way the river bed snakes away from it amidst dense vegetation heading towards Hobart.

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Out on the Farm

On the last day of October 2015, I walked along the river edge (part of Meadowbank Lake) and mostly on the property of Curringa Farm.  I am most appreciative for Tim and Jane Parsons allowing me to walk there.

Their Farm is home to thousands of sheep.

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While I walked along approximately 4km of the river’s edge towards where the Clyde River entering the Lake, my friend Alex waited. As she sat in the car reading newspapers and drinking tea from her thermos, the wonderful view down to the ‘river’ as shown below was hers to savour.  In fact this waterway is one part of the very long Meadowbank Lake through which the Derwent River flows. One of Alex’s photos is shown below.

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While I walked, the Lake was busy with jet boats and water skiers. Watch this video.

As usual, the water and the river’s edge landscape enthralled me.

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When I walk alone I hear and see things which are not usually available if I walk with another. That is, the talking or the crashing through the bush disturbs birds and animals and they disappear.  During this walk, when a Rufus wallaby was suddenly standing before me a few metres away, we were both surprised. The bush was so quiet and I must have been making foot noises which sounded like normal bush rustlings so that s/he wasn’t immediately aware of my presence.  Eventually s/he hopped off to watch me from some bushes in the distance. I hadn’t moved a muscle since we first eyeballed each other.  But after its bounce away, my eyes swivelled to focus on a movement on the hill above. Down hopped a small wallaby and on the crest his/her mother appeared.  The following video shows them almost camouflaged in the environment. I feel sure you will not find the smaller baby wallaby until it moves again.

Watch this video.

Through the undergrowth, many well ‘walked’ tiny tracks were visible but on closer inspection they seemed to be wallaby highways.

20151031_114746.jpg Clever animals – they had been able to gradually force up fences in order to continue moving through paddocks. If you study the photograph below, on the lower right hand side you can see the wire mesh fence has been raised by rounding it up from the ground.

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Substantial sandstone/mudstone rocks intruded at the water’s edge and as cliffs formed hillsides and cave-type overhangs.  I wonder if the original inhabitants of the land rested in some of these places.

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The next selection of photos shows a couple of examples of the profusion of bush flowers seen during this walk: I cannot identify the first but the second is a tiny native orchid.

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Generally the bush was extremely dry, so much so that the lichen growing on rocks was shrivelled and seemingly dead.

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Parts of the Derwent Valley have received so little rain over winter that there is insufficient vegetation coverage for the cattle and sheep to eat in the coming months.  Apparently many farmers will be selling their sheep soon before the animals lose their good condition.  It is so challenging to work on the land.  It will be so challenging for city dwellers wanting to eat lamb in a few months’ time – a few gold ingots might be needed to make a purchase.

Nevertheless, it is a beautiful part of the world.

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Dangerous rivers

The Derwent is ranked No.8 in the country’s top 10 most dangerous inland waterways, with 12 victims since 2001,’ said David Beniuk in his article “Don’t run the risk in rivers”, published in The Sunday Tasmanian yesterday.

He explained that ‘Tasmanians are being reminded of the dangers of their beautiful, but potentially deadly rivers in a national campaign.’

The Royal Life Saving Society says ‘We are a state that absolutely loves our waterways … But our inland waterways, in terms of drowning fatalities, are really where it’s happening in Tasmania. The perception is that the still waters of a river are calm and are safe. But it’s what we don’t see and don’t know, things like ice cold water, snags, things like tree branches as well as river currents, that often get people without notice.’

Beniuk reports that ‘The state registered the highest per capita rate in the country, with men over 55 at risk.’  He noted a number of things we can do which offer protection: ‘wearing a regularly serviced life jacket, avoiding alcohol, never swimming alone, knowing the area, telling people where and when you’re going and learning first aid.’ In addition, ‘checking weather conditions and the Maritime and Safety Tasmania website were also important.’

This article was timely; over the weekend a friend urged me to stay with my decision not to canoe/kayak down the Derwent River.  As I mentioned in a recent post, a strong fit male family friend canoed down a short section and had never been so frightened.  I got the message then.

Ferries on the Derwent River

D.G. O’May authored Ferries of the Derwent A History of the Ferry Services on the Derwent River in 1988.

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The O’May family is well known for their connection with the maritime history of the Derwent River over many decades.  The chapters of the book cover different aspects of the ferries that travelled across and up and down the river, and many old photographs of ferries, key people and historic documentation including licenses have been reproduced.

Possible locations where the Derwent River can be ‘touched’

I have compiled a list of those locations where I believe, with a vehicle, it will be possible to ‘touch’ the Derwent River occasionally along its length between Gretna and Lake St Clair.  Please let me know if any section listed below takes your fancy and if you would be interested to try it out.

Almost all sections include driving on bitumen highway, gravel roads and poor tracks. Some of these may be forestry roads.  If you wish to volunteer to take me to one of these sections (let me know on walkingthederwent@gmail.com), please feel comfortable that your car can handle the different conditions.  Of course, common sense will prevail and we will never push on if a road is too rough for your vehicle and your peace of mind.

If you are happy to help me reach my goal, albeit differently than originally expected, I would like to fill up your tank with petrol as some compensation.  You know my ‘walking the Derwent’ is a non-commercial project, but since I do not own a car nor drive, I need transport – and therefore, I am happy to cover the cost.

  1. On eastern shore – From New Norfolk drive along the Lyell Highway and then, not far past Gretna’s Sports ground, take a left turn into Clarendon Road and drive to farmstead buildings about 250 metres from the river on a hill. Perhaps 140km return trip.
  2. On western shore – From New Norfolk drive along Glenora Road, and turn left at Bushy Park then right onto Meadowbank Road over the Tyenna River then next to Derwent, then on over Meadowbank Creek to a hill top with buildings. It may be possible to continue quite a way on this road. Minimum 130 and maybe up to 160kms return trip
  3. On eastern shore – From New Norfolk drive along the Lyell Highway and turn left off the Highway onto Meadowbank Dam Road. Continue to dam and southern end of Meadowbank Lake. At least 170 kms for round trip.
  4. On western shore – Travel from New Norfolk and turn left into Gordon River Road at Bushy Park, then turn right off Gordon River Rd into Ellendale Rd and then right onto Rockmount Road before you reach the township of Ellendale. There seem to be many dirt forestry tracks to Meadowbank Lake. At least 170kms return trip and maybe 200kms return or more depending on roads.
  5. On western shore – Travel from New Norfolk and turn left into Gordon River Road at Bushy Park, then turn right off Gordon River Rd into Ellendale Rd and drive on through the township of Ellendale until you reach Dawson Rd / Dunrobin bridge over Meadowbank Lake. Turn left before bridge and it seems we can drive 2kms further up along the Lake edge. Return to Ellendale Road, cross bridge and connect with the Lyell Highway. At least 170kms return trip and maybe 200kms return or more depending on roads.
  6. On eastern shore – From New Norfolk drive up Lyell Highway and continue past the left turn off to Dunrobin bridge and afterwards and to the left there are a number of dirt tracks seemingly without gates. After a while these tracks/roads only extend to the Ouse River and not the Derwent River so map consultation is crucial. At least 180kms return and maybe over 200kms return depending on how many side roads/tracks can be driven along.
  7. On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway past Ouse then turn left at Lake Repulse Road. Continue to intersection with Cluny Lagoon Road and turn left and go to Cluny Dam. Return to intersection and continue on Lake Repulse Road to the Repulse Dam. Can cross a bridge and continue back south around Cluny Lagoon to a ‘settlement’ named Cluny.  Perhaps could access this road from the Ellendale Rd on the western shore? By driving north from Repulse Dam along Dawson Road/then renamed Thunderbolt Road it seems we can take right hand detours to Lake Repulse. Over 200kms maybe 250kms or more minimum round trip.
  8. On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway past Ouse, over the Dee River until the sign appears for a left turn at Catagunya Road. Drive down to Catagunya Dam. 200kms minimum return trip
  9. On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway past Ouse, over the Dee River, past Black Bobs and turn left at Long Spur Road. This runs around Wayatinah Lagoon. Go past the intersection to Wayatinah Dam, turn left and travel to Wayatinah Power Station on Lake Catagunya. Return to intersection and turn left and travel to Wayatinah Dam. Cross bridge and continue on to Wayatinah township. Access dirt tracks in the vicinity of all. Drive south from the Wayatinah Dam on the western shore along the Florentine Road but don’t bother crossing the Florentine River because the road goes inland away from the river. Minimum of 230kms but most likely  at least 300kms round trip.
  10. On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway and when you reach a canal passing under the road, and where the road turns right to go to Tarraleah, go straight ahead on Butlers Gorge Road. Note there are limited roads off and around going closer to the river near that intersection. Continue along Butlers Gorge Road for 10-15 kms heading for Lake King William. Reach Clark Dam and Power Station. Continue onto Switchback Track along side of Lake King William. This track stops and you have to return the same way – swamp separates you from the track north about 500 metres away. This would be a big day and I suggest take overnight accommodation at Tarraleah before setting out. PERHAPS it is possible to walk across the swamp and then walk about 7 kms to Derwent Bridge. Unknown over 300 kms return trip.
  11. On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway to Derwent Bridge and continue past to left hand turn off on the western side of Lake King William and drive the track to the lake. 360 kms return trip minimum.
  12. On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway to Derwent Bridge. Walk from the bridge over the Derwent River near the township of Derwent Bridge to St Clair Dam at the bottom of Lake St Clair Lagoon where the Derwent River starts. Walk to Pump House Point and St Clair Weir at the southern end of the Derwent Basin. 350kms return trip minimum.