Tag Archives: sheep

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 10 of 13

I enjoyed the walk from my camping spot to Catagunya in the early morning.  Except, as usual, I didn’t enjoy negotiating fences.  Getting from one side to the other took time. Most were rather challenging. Frequently, I needed to unhitch my backpack, lift its 14kg weight in a clean and jerk manoeuvre and tumble it over a fence.  Then I would walk up and down the fence line until I found the easiest (never easy) place for me to crawl under the fence, climb over or squeeze through the fence.  Back to the pack, heave it onto my back, and adjust the straps.  Thankfully the paddocks were huge and I could never see all sides at the same time which means I didn’t have as many fences as one might imagine for this distance. The fences followed the curves of hills and disappeared over crests.  I only ever saw two gates.

From the smaller second dam I followed a creeklet down down down to an almost hill-less flatter space that bordered a section of Lake Repulse.

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I turned north-west and meandered up a smaller hill slope until Catagunya Dam came into view.

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Ahead of me were extensive paddocks with sheep.

Beside me, to my left through a thick edge of trees Lake Repulse/Derwent River streamed away in a south-easterly direction.

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Solid thick trunked trees stood sentry near the water beside rocky outcrops which defined the River edges and stopped the expansion of vegetation.

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I looked back from where I had come; way behind all the hills you can see.

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I looked forward to my destination.

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I looked around about me.

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How beautiful the country looked with its softened edges.

Walking between Gretna and Lake Repulse Dam – 2 of 3

Fences and gates

Avid readers of this blog know that locked and impassable gates, and barbed wire and electric fences have stymied my progress in recent walks. As I expected, these exist not only on the perimeters of properties but also throughout.

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Therefore, my recent walks involved a great deal of walking away from the River in search of a way to continue; looking for a way to access the next paddock. I always hope for uninterrupted access to the river edge, but experience shows that hill climbing must be part of the process.  This means a simple 5 km section of the River might take 8 km of walking.  Being forever positive, I am glad for the expansive views of the River when I am up high.  But I am not in love with clambering up hills. Despite the deviations, I negotiated dozens of fences/gates.

The land

Farmers tell me that normally the land dries out in around six weeks’ time. However this year, the non-irrigated paddocks are parched.  The ‘soil’ of some land is sand and rock making me wonder whether it has been so for millennia or is only now tending towards a desert.  In other places, large fissures have cracked open the ground.

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Elsewhere, I saw evidence of large bushfires that probably rushed through the bush three or so years ago. New growth surrounded blackened trunks.

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Negotiating paddocks with livestock

Sheep and cattle wander through large paddocks on either side of the River in much of this area.

I do my best not to enter a paddock with livestock and always try to find alternative routes.  The result is grand deviations from the ‘straight line’ of walking the Derwent.

Cattle are curious or expect food and with their big bodies swaying they tend to walk towards you. Then at a point when I begin to feel most uncomfortable, skittishly they run off.  On the other hand, sheep stand and stare until alarmed. Then they run off, bleating madly.

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I don’t believe it is useful to raise either their or my stress levels.  At this time of the year when lots of mothers and their calves or lambs abound, the last thing I want to do is stress these creatures.

Occasionally, I have shared a paddock with either cattle or sheep. When in a paddock with the animals, I have done my best to walk in such a way that they move slowly away rather than charging off manically.  However, when I saw rams staring at me from under their sharp curly horns, I saw no point in confrontation, and took an alternative route – which in this particular circumstance required me to descend a very very steep hill, knowing I would have to climb back up further along. And I don’t like hills.

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Crops

Commercial and feed crops cover some of the land. I am not a farmer but I think the following photo shows wheat. Can anyone advise me?

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I feel sure this is barley below but am I correct?

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And I know the photo below shows oats.  I once had bales of oat straw brought to mulch my garden. Ever since, wild oats have sprouted and I have come to love their lacy heads.

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I have no idea what I was looking at when I came across this irrigated crop – can anyone identify the vegetation below?

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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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Blue skies and sheep glorious sheep

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It seems so long ago that the Chinese New Year was launched back on the 19th February 2015 and announced as the Year of the Sheep according to the Chinese zodiac.  The ‘year’ continues until 7 February 2016.

As I walked, my mind often wandered to sheep.  The paddocks were dotted with these woolly bundles. The first merinos were sent by Governor King to Hobart in 1805.  More varieties of sheep were brought into Van Diemens Land from the early 19th century as the colony established itself; firstly for meat consumption and then not long after for wool. The establishment of woollen mills followed. These days sheep farmers around Tasmania continue to supply our nation’s butchers and supermarkets, and the fashion industry via fine wool fabrics.

Friends and blog followers know that sheep figure in my list of loves (Refer to an earlier posting).  Therefore, it should not surprise you when this post concludes with photographs I took last year of a very large marble sculpture installed in Stockholm Cathedral, Sweden. Stunningly beautiful!

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Higher and higher

Eventually I began to crest the hill and behold vistas on the Lyell Highway side of the hill. Glimpses of the Derwent River appeared from time to time.

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Amidst the rolling cleared paddocks with their sheep, one was cultivated.

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I wasn’t sure of the vegetable but it seemed as if the crop was cabbages bolting towards seeding.  Rather strange they were not picked earlier.  Were they intended to be animal feed?

The afternoon was glorious.  The spring blue sky colour, the variations in the landscape, the occasional jigsaw pieces of Derwent River which popped into view, and the rural quietness were splendid.

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Watch out! Cows crossing

After Rayners Corner, I walked back along Glenora Road because I could not access the property separating me from the Derwent River. The tall dry teasels made a barrier on the left of the road.

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When I registered the sound of a motor cycle and a quad bike on the hill, I watched two farmers sweeping down as they herded cattle towards the fence next to the road.

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Within moments the bike was on the road ready to halt traffic.

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And then the cows were out.  Their job was simply to walk from one paddock to another across the road.

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But along the road barrelled a speeding car which skittered the cattle so they began to run towards Bushy Park.  The car stopped short. The farmers glared. I stood still knowing if I kept walking in that direction the cows would be spooked further.

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Eventually the cattle found their paddock.

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I continued walking along. Then I turned and talked with Mrs farmer while Mr farmer locked gates.  When he joined the conversation he assured me that while the cattle had a mind of their own, sheep were the particular challenge he particularly did not like when it was time to take them over a busy road.  His sheep could never be trusted to know they should not run off.

Near the edge of the Derwent River again

Having farewelled the walking cyclist, I spotted a style built giving anglers access over a fence and at the same time I appreciated a grand curve in the Derwent River down below.

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The views of the river, the paddocks and the sheep were magnificent.

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As usual, continual direct access to the river was impossible.  This time, the very steep and slippery river banks were the greatest impediment.

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I continued along Glenora Road until I was able to follow a vehicular track to the water.  On the river edge, a large irrigation pump took pride of place. The water was clear. The sun sparkled across the surface. But access to the water was denied me because a steep slippery mudbank, which I did not believe I could climb back up if I slipped down, separated me from that elusive fluid.

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