Tag Archives: Sorell Creek

Reaching the exit from the Lyell Highway leading to the Derwent River

On Stage 14, from Sorell Creek I continued walking on the Lyell Highway for a few kilometres until reaching a gravel road that exited on the right towards a boat ramp on the Derwent River.

During the walk, I enjoyed spectacularly beautiful glimpses of the Derwent River as it turned through the landscape.

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I loved the enterprise of the roadside flower seller.

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A few hundred metres before the turn off to the boat ramp I spotted a sign (see arrow on map to pinpoint the location).

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Limited access roads, and limited direct access to the river from the land: Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River

A few times during my Stage 14 walk I noticed a sign ‘Limited Access Road’ and sometimes another sign indicating the Roads and Jetties Act 1935. This was true, for example, in the Sorell Creek area as I walked to New Norfolk. I wondered if this was Tasmanian state legislation affecting land ownership to the edge of the Derwent River.  Blog followers will have read my annoyance at not being able to walk along the exact river edge from time to time, because private property occupies the space and this is often gated and fenced. On my return home from the Stage 14 walk, I delved deeply into various pieces of legislation and other sites. This is what I discovered.

At http://www.ifs.tas.gov.au/publications/river-access-angler-rights-and-responsibilities, I learned that angler rights and responsibilities were as follows: “All anglers have an important role in maintaining good relations between landowners and the angling community. Firstly, anglers should understand that access is a privilege not a right, and secondly, when in doubt, ask permission. In Tasmania, most private land titles extend to the bank of the river and some titles extend to the middle of the river. This can mean that you may be trespassing, which is a criminal offence, even if you are wading in the river.

Rivers also flow through public land such as Crown Reserves, State Forests, National Parks, Hydro property and Conservation Areas. Whilst public access is usually permitted, different entry conditions may apply depending on the management authority.

The Inland Fisheries Service has been working to develop access to angling waters with a focus on improving foot access to major river fisheries. Much of this has involved negotiating with landowners and establishing formal agreements regarding access for anglers. Access points are now clearly marked with signs at the access locations on seven major river fisheries around the State.

Apart from registered private fisheries, Tasmania’s fishery is public property – the fish are not the property of the landowner. However, the land that surrounds public water is subject to title and the rights of the landowner to control access to the river or lake is at their discretion. Anglers must ensure that they are on public land or that they have sought the permission of the landowner to access the river or lake they wish to fish.

The majority of lakes in Tasmania exist on Hydro Tasmania or reserve land (Crown, National Parks etc) and public access is generally permitted across the land to the lakes and around the lake shores. Hydro does control access to areas where there is infrastructure or there are safety issues with public access. These areas are generally signposted with appropriate warnings.

Rivers generally traverse a number of different land tenures along their length, which may be a combination of reserves and private land. Land title generally extends to the edge of the river, and occasionally to the middle of the river. Land tenure can be searched on the LIST Tasmanian Property Database (www.thelist.tas.gov.au). Another useful tool is the Tasmanian 1:25000 map series, available from Service Tasmania. These show river reserves where they exist and anglers are permitted to access these areas provided they do not have to cross private property to reach them. The most important principle is ‘Access is a privilege not a right – when in doubt ask permission’.”

Stiles across fences have been installed for anglers and I saw a few of these during Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River.  These usefully provide access to sections but do not allow a continuous uninterrupted walk along the river’s edge.

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An 2007 article on the site http://www.exploroz.com/Forum/Topic/45914/Public_access_to_waterways_on_private_land.aspx

confirms this situation is similar across Australia, and it debunks some myths.

How does this get changed to allow easy public access to the river in Tasmania?  The permission must come from a State government minister under the Crowns Act 1976 (http://www.thelaw.tas.gov.au/tocview/index.w3p;cond=;doc_id=28%2B%2B1976%2BGS74%40EN%2B20131211000000;histon=;prompt=;rec=;term=). Clause 57 states: “Reservation of land abutting on streams. Where, in the opinion of the Minister, it is desirable to reserve Crown land –

(a) abutting on any permanent river, stream, or lake; or

(b) that is contiguous to the sea or an estuary –

he shall reserve, from any sale of that Crown land, land to the extent of at least 15 metres in width on each bank of the river, stream, lake, or the high-water mark of the sea or estuary.” I cannot imagine any government minister taking ‘rights’ away from current owners, so the chances of my lobbying successfully for a clear walking path next to the Derwent River are probably zero and zilch.

By the way, the interpretation clauses of the Roads and Jetties Act 1935 includes: a “country road means a road not being or forming portion of a State highway or subsidiary road, but does not include a street in any town”. I was reminded of an earlier post which tried to determine how a ‘back road’ might be defined.

Chatting with a traveller

On Stage 14 of my walk from Granton to New Norfolk by the Derwent  River, a car pulled off the road ahead of me at Sorell Creek. The female driver sat motionless. I plodded on and, as I walked past the car, she wound down her side window and asked for help.  A farmer from inland NSW, she and her daughter were staying temporarily in Maydena (http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/about/regions-of-tasmania/hobart-and-south/maydena), a small town on the way to Strathgordon in south western Tasmania – a town where our shy native platypus can be seen in the fast flowing Tyenna River, the waters of which eventually flow downstream to help keep the Derwent River level high.

While her husband worked that day, she decided to take a drive in the car and look around to see more of the country.

When we met, she wanted to find a route to the convict penitentiary at Port Arthur (http://www.portarthur.org.au) without needing to navigate busy Hobart city streets. Her only map was a small abbreviated tourist map of Tasmania that showed the main highways and a few towns. I dragged out some of my maps, and we chatted amiably while many options were considered.  Through these conversations I was clear that our road signage is designed for those who know where they are going, and not always for those who don’t know the terrain.

The thought of encouraging her to take the East Derwent Highway, come out near the Tasman Bridge and then need to cross three lanes of traffic immediately, filled me with dread.  When you are driving and unsure of where you are and how to get there, many signs and endless traffic can be disorienting.  I felt sure she would find herself in suburbia and never understand how to extract herself from there in order to be on her way to Port Arthur.

To take the Midlands Highway by crossing the Bridgewater Bridge, and travel towards Oatlands to find a cross country route, also seemed impractical.  Once off that highway, narrow winding roads lead eventually to Richmond but this would not help her easily to get onto a road leading to her destination, without much more direction asking of locals.

We settled on the option where she would continue along the Lyell Highway, drive along the Brooker Highway towards Hobart city, before taking the left hand exit to the Tasman Bridge near Hobart, and then driving across the Bridge.  I hope the blue airport symbol was posted liberally during that journey.  If she followed that symbol, then once at the final roundabout to the airport she knew to drive straight on.  We didn’t exchange contact details so I continue to wonder if she found Port Arthur without getting lost and without losing time.

At 12.15pm we parted company. I was glad to have had someone to talk with. Besides, she had been considering walking (http://www.bicentennialnationaltrail.com.au/) from the north to the south through Australia (a mere 5330kms from Cooktown in far northern Queensland to Healesville slightly east of Melbourne, Victoria).  I wish her all the best.

Paper making mill on the Derwent River

The tiny settlement of Sorell Creek has a perfect view of the Norske Skog newsprint manufacturing mill across the Derwent River at Boyer.  The business website is located at http://www.norskeskog.com/Business-units/Australasia/Norske-Skog-Boyer.aspx

Since the 1940s this mill, along with others dotted around the state, has been a mainstay of the Tasmania’s economy.  Tasmania has been a land of old growth forests which, since European settlement, have gradually been reduced for farming, town and city growth and for the establishment of newer plantation forests.  Norske Skog only uses the wood from plantation forests and in this way protects the remaining ‘original’ forests and wilderness of Tasmania.

You can read more about the history of this plant at http://www.vantagepaper.com.au/BoyerHistory.aspx.

During the Stage 14 walk, I approached the mill during the latter part of the morning until I stood looking across the Derwent River at it. From then on, the mill gradually disappeared from view as I wound around walking paths along the curving Derwent River.

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Along the way, I passed many more spectacular poplar trees with their golden leaves.

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Sorell Creek sign post: Stage 14 of walk along the Derwent River

Around 11.35 am, directional signs at the Sorell Creek T junction with the Lyell Highway gave me useful information for me to gauge the distance I had walked from Granton and what was left to cover if I continued ‘straight’ to New Norfolk. As I crossed the actual creek flowing with a lot of water, I was made aware by a slightly mangled small blue sign, of a cemetery to my left; usually old cemeteries contain interesting stories but visiting it seemed like a deviation which would take me too far from the Derwent River so I continued on the Highway making a mental note to return another day to have a look at the Malbina cemetery.

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The main signs indicated New Norfolk was a mere 5 kilometres further north, if I stayed walking on the Highway – but I expected to be finding tracks off the highway taking me closer to river in the next half an hour.

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and the golden view when looking back south was also worth a photo.

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I wondered how many people commuted to New Norfolk daily by foot.  Probably zero numbers.

Time for a morning tea break on Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River

At 11.20 am, having been walking from Granton towards New Norfolk since a little before 8am,  the Sorell Creek area seemed a pleasant place to stop and take a break. The town is too small to have a shop so, as usual, I dug into my backpack for some prepared food to nibble.  I rested on a grassy bank near the road verge with my back to the Lyell Highway and surveyed the low paddocks with resting watchful cows, munching sheep and wandering geese.  Their backdrop were golden poplar trees with leaves dropping and blowing in the occasional breeze, and a strip of glassy dark blue Derwent River streamed behind. The crows were cawing. Traffic roaring. But the sun sparkled on everything I could see. The vista and experience seemed quite magically unreal.

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Raceway at Sorell Creek

Signs alerted me that I was approaching a raceway on my left as I walked toward the Mountain Dew Race Park on the edge of the tiny settlement of Sorell Creek (which is located closer to New Norfolk than Granton).  Photos on http://www.mountaindewiceraceway.com/ give an indication of the types of vehicles which race on this circuit.  It was all quiet as I walked past, and looking at their events calendar it seems no races are scheduled in the future.

A bus stop for the Derwent Valley Link bus service is located on this part of the Lyell Highway.

It was the rows of poplars changing from summer green to autumn gold that I will remember most. Absolutely stunning.

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