Tag Archives: Styx

Crossing the Derwent River

In stages over more than the past year, I have walked as near to the Derwent River as I can, and each time I see it up close again I am thrilled. Its scale, its colour, and its texture are always different.  The changing effects of the sky on the water’s surface are fleeting, and I love seeing every view.

On Day two, I had left Bushy Park, crossed the Styx River and was now on my way to the Lyell Highway with a despondent resignation that no more close encounters with the River would be possible this day excepting when I crossed the bridge.

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The bridge was long and offered one lane for traffic and no pedestrian path. This is an area where powerful log trucks, various large transports, farm vehicles, massive four wheel drives, and all manner of smaller cars and motorcycles power along the road.  I considered hitching a ride over the bridge with the intention of travelling across in safety. Thankfully the vehicles do not come in a continuous stream, so I looked for a gap in the traffic.

With an ear to the wind, I listened to hear approaching vehicles. In a moment of quiet I made my ‘run’ for it. Friends would know no running was involved. Rather I stepped out purposefully and as quickly as I could, humping my backpack along with me.

Two thirds of the way across I felt indignant. I wanted to have a look at the river but the fact that it was dangerous to be on the bridge unnerved me. Nevertheless, I glanced around and noticed the magnificence of the views up and down the river. As I readied to take a quick photo I could hear an approaching vehicle.  But I stood my ground.  Then I flattened myself against the bridge railing as a monster dual cab ute whizzed past with the driver glaring at me.  I glared back; I hoped my stony look, backgrounded by thoughts of frustration that walkers were not considered in the bridge design, communicated to him.  I know I know I know. Of course it didn’t. I am sure he simply thought my presence was the impediment to his safe progress.

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Before long I was off the bridge crossing the Derwent River and heading eastwards to the Lyell Highway.  Getting down to the water was impossible. In this case it was the tangled Blackberry canes that stood in the way.

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The Styx River

In ancient Greece, the Styx was a deity and also a river that formed a boundary between earth and the underworld, and was one which had miraculous powers. In texts such as Dante’s The Divine Comedy, the Styx figures as a metaphor for Hell. I suspect many countries in the world contain a river named the Styx and that for some people, their river connects with Hell or with an earlier characteristic from Greek mythology. There are a number of Styx rivers across Australia.

Tasmania’s Styx river feeds the Derwent when it flows into that River along the edges of the Bushy Park Sports Oval. Our Styx River, a wild one racing through narrow gorges and bristling over rapids in many sections, starts its life in the wilderness near Mount Mueller further west and south of Maydena before travelling past dense ancient forests. I can imagine for our early settlers, the inaccessibility of the river, the rugged surrounding landscape, and the virtual impenetrability of the vegetation would have made this territory seem like hell.  To compound their problems, constant heavy rain falls, cold miserable conditions in winter and fiendishly hot days in summer would have made their lives hell. Yet, over time, the forestry industry found ways near the Styx River to log old-growth forests. Regrettably.

Back to my walk.

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I survived a quick jog over the Styx River road bridge without being mown down by vehicular traffic, and stopped to look at the water rustling beneath.

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I rested nearby to enjoy the sound of the water and the comparatively cool air.