Tag Archives: Sullivan’s Cove

Where is the source of the Derwent River?

This question was on the minds of the new settlers to Van Diemens Land in the early 1800s.

In 1835 George Frankland, Surveyor General to the government of the time, organised a ‘search’ party to locate the source. After the expedition he wrote a report for despatch to the ‘mother country’, England.  The brief text has been published as The Narrative of an Expedition to the Head of the Derwent and to the Countries bordering the Huon in 1835.  The small book was reprinted by Nags Head Press for the publisher Sullivan’s Cove in 1983.

No description exists of how Frankland and his party travelled inland until they reached a property or area then known then as Marlborough (now known as Bronte) in the Lake country, located west of Lake Echo and directly east of Lake St Clair by over 30 kilometres. Marlborough was a probation station for North American prisoners in the 1830s/40s.

Map of probation stations including Marlborough

The map above can be seen in the story: ‘They left Jefferson County forever…’

The Marlborough district was discovered by Surveyor Sharland who also found Lake St Clair, in 1832, only three years before Frankland felt compelled to find the source of the Derwent.  It seems Sharland did not realise it was the Derwent River that flowed from the southern end of Lake St Clair. Further information can be read in G. H. Stancombe’s paper Notes on the History of The Central Plateau.

The Lyell Highway, according to the Highland Lakes Settlement Strategy has been known as the Marlborough Road where it runs westwards of Ouse and towards the area around Bronte.

Information, which is totally irrelevant to my writings about the Derwent but nevertheless interesting, concerns an earthquake near Marlborough that was recorded in The Courier, a Hobart newspaper on 25 April 1854. Thomas Bellinger reported ‘I beg to inform you of a very strange occurrence on the evening of the 24th of March last. A shock like that of an earthquake was felt in almost every part of the Marlborough District. Two shepherds were gathering sheep the other day and discovered the cause of it.  I went to the place yesterday: there has been some fearful volcanic eruption, rocks of enormous size have been driven about, the face of the earth appears to have been hoisted in the air and pitched surface downwards. I cannot describe to you the appearance, but if you will come up I am sure you will be highly gratified – the distance is about ten miles from this.’  I have no information about where Thomas Bellinger was writing from but I am curious to hunt out the location of this upheaval.

After that information detour, let’s go back to the expedition to find the source of the Derwent River.

Following a ‘difficult journey from the settled Districts’, all members of George Frankland’s party assembled at Marlborough on the 7 February 1835.  The record shows that George Frankland did not follow the edges of the Derwent, rather he crossed the Nive River (which empties into the Derwent River much further south), then travelled north-westwards. Initially densely forested hills stymied progress with horses, and then the boggy plains ahead slowed him down.  He continued generally in a westward direction and after almost five days, found Lake St Clair; ‘we suddenly found ourselves on the edge of a beautiful Lake in the heart of Scenery of the most picturesque Character’.  After further walking around parts of the lake, Frankland reports ‘It was a fine summers day and the Air was so serene that the surface of the Water was scarcely ruffled but the sandy beaches bore evidence of the Lake being at times as rough as the Sea. I will not here dilate on the extreme beauty of this scenery as it might be considered out of place in an official report, but … I feel it difficult to avoid expressing the impressions of delight which were inspired by first discovering of such a romantic Country…’

On the 14th February, Frankland despatched two of his party to return to the source of the Derwent and follow it downstream on the left bank while he set out to explore the country on the right bank.  Both parties walked across open plains where Lake King William now fills the area.  They reunited the next day.  One of the party, a Mister Calder was despatched to continue along the edge of the river until he met the entrance of the Nive, which he successfully achieved (although details are absent).  Meanwhile Frankland tried to continue following after Calder but was only able to proceed for 3 miles. ‘At that point we plainly perceived that the Country had … become such a thick forest that to take the horses any further was out of the question.’  The result was that Frankland split the party further with the horses taking an easier route to Marlborough.

On their first day trying to walk the edge of the Derwent, Frankland recorded ‘This day was consumed by a laborious march of two miles through a most obstinate scrub – and we bivouacked on the steep edge of the Derwent after wading for a considerable distance through the torrent, up to the middle, as the easiest mode of travelling.’  The forest is as dense in 2015 as it was then, so regular blog followers can appreciate why walking some sections of the rest of the way to Lake St Clair concerns me.

At this point Frankland was for giving up. ‘On the 18th February I determined on leaving the Derwent and accordingly struck away to the N.E. The forests continued depressingly thick – but by dint of labour we accomplished about four miles this day’.  Only four miles in a day for strong men!  What chance do I have of walking this part quickly or easily?

A couple of days later Frankland reached Marlborough and from there he set off to cross the Derwent River and explore the Huon River area further south.

Thank you Andrew for alerting me to this report and for the loan of the book.

Theatre Royal, Hobart – proximity to the Derwent River

The Theatre Royal located on Campbell St Hobart was built in 1834 and is the earliest theatre built in Australia that is still fully operational today – each week the Theatre Royal stages various events: theatre, dance, musicals, opera, eisteddfods, music concerts or comedy. After a disastrous fire in 1984, the building was restored to its former glory and its delightful small but grand interior is now well worth a visit.  Guided tours are on offer during the day.

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But what does the Theatre Royal have to do with the Derwent River you may wonder.

Firstly, it is located only a stone’s throw from the Hobart Rivulet that flows into the Derwent River. The Hobart Rivulet was the source of fresh water to the first settlers in Sullivans Cove (a bay in the Derwent River) in the years after they established the colony in 1804. Picking up the crystal clear waters from flows on Mount Wellington, the Hobart Rivulet wound its way through the early ‘Hobarton’ and these days it continues to flow under much of the current city of Hobart.

Secondly, the early shores of the Derwent River were further inland in the early 19th century than today. Considerable land fill has been added over the past two centuries.  When the Theatre Royal was built, the Derwent River was a little closer than today.

I have entertained myself with searches for old maps of Hobart so that I could understand where the Theatre Royal was located in relation to the original foreshore.

The image of the foreshore at Sullivans Cove below was drawn in 1804 (this was the year of first settlement here). Hunter Island was on its own before it was connected to the mainland by a causeway. This island was located not far from where Campbell St (the street on which the Theatre Royal is built) was established much later. The drawing shows the extensive forests which were removed over subsequent years to make way for the streets, houses and public buildings (image from http://www.tasfamily.net.au/~schafferi/images/Ocean&LNHunterIs1804img141.jpg

Ocean&LNHunterIs1804img141  Hunter island 1804

The site http://www.tasfamily.net.au/~schafferi/index.php?file=kop15.php offers the opinion ‘It is hard to imagine what Hobart Town would have been like when Lt. Gov. Collins arrived in 1804.  The rivulet ran free, (except when it rained heavily sending logs that blocked the rivulet, sending water spilling across its banks) large gum trees stood on both sides of the rivulet, some of which had to be cut down to make room for the new settlement.‘  The drawing below, made by George P Harris in 1805 or 1806, seems to look across Hobarton from what today is referred to as the Domain.  I think Harris employed a great deal of creativity when making the picture because the Mount Nelson Signal Station looms large on the distant hill yet it could not realistically have been that height.  

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Below, the 1811 town layout has an overlay of our contemporary streetscape (from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-24/footsteps-towards-freedom-art-project-begins/6251596).  If you can locate the intersection of Campbell St and Collins St, then you can appreciated that the yet to be built Theatre Royal will be sited a few metres along Campbell St (on the block at the top side of the letter E of Street). You can appreciate how close this is to the Rivulet and to the Derwent River.

1811 -abc

George Evans lithograph of 1819 below shows how little progress had been made in terms of new buildings and street construction 15 years after settlement ( http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-22/1819-slnsw-south-west-view-of-hobart-town-1819-george-william-e/5689410)

George Evans South west view of Hobart town

By 1832 significant developments had been made to Hobarton .  The map below (from http://www.auspostalhistory.com/articles/180.php) was made two years before the Theatre Royal was built.  Can you locate Campbell St?  Once found, can you see the thick black line that crosses it – that line is the Hobart Rivulet? The future location for the new theatre was a couple of house blocks away from the intersection between the street and the rivulet.  Looking at the shoreline with the Derwent River, already it is clear land has been reclaimed along the edge; the shape is manmade and the landscape no longer flows naturally.

180_TN.IMAGE3 1832 hobart

On the Proeschel map below (with the hand writing at the top of the map indicating 1858), locate the intersection of Collins and Campbell Streets.  Nearby, the Theatre Royal is listed as Public Edifice number 23 (from http://catalogue.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/item/?id=879658)

Map_and_select_directory_of_Hobart_Town

In Jarman’s map of Hobart Town (http://catalogue.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/item/?id=573294 indicates the date for this is 1858, although if the Proeschel map’s date is correct then the differences are too marked for this to be correct. More research required.), the end of Collins St has been modified so that two streets are located one either side of the Rivulet (black rectangle above Collins St is the Theatre Royal).

Hobart Town

A woodcut map of 1879 by A C Cooke (from http://catalogue.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/item/?id=94421) gives a bird’s eye view of Hobart Town. On the lower right, the large watery dock can be seen intruding into the townscape. At the top end of this water is the large City Hall with Campbell St on its right hand side. Immediately behind the City Hall is Collins St.  Therefore the Theatre Royal is located on the right hand side of Campbell St a little above Collins St.

_Hobart_Town____A_C__Cooke__delt

The area around the Hobart Rivulet routinely flooded the streets after heavy rains in the 19th and early 20th centuries (substantial new drainage systems now prevents such occurrences). The photo below (from http://www.linc.tas.gov.au/tasmaniasheritage/browse/exhibitions/hobartrivulet/diversions-and-floods/image-3) was taken after a flood in the 1920s. We are looking back towards the centre of Hobart Town along the Hobart Rivulet. The large curved roof at the right of the photograph is the top of the Theatre Royal and, therefore, the first bridge in the distance which crosses over the Rivulet will distinguish Campbell Street.

Floods-NS869-1-497 1920s rivulet end of Collins

The photo below (http://www.linc.tas.gov.au/tasmaniasheritage/browse/exhibitions/hobartrivulet/diversions-and-floods/image-2) was taken during flooding in the 1930s.  The building on the right hand side is the City Hall which still functions as such today.  The road to the right of the flooding Rivulet is Collins St and people are standing on Campbell St above the Rivulet.  Therefore, the Theatre Royal is just out of shot to the left from where people are standing watching the torrent.

flood1 1930s flooding rivulet near theatre royal

Leo Schofield’s short-lived but internationally renowned Hobart Baroque festival lit up the Theatre Royal with spectacular performances.

Theatre-Royal-Hobart  seated people

Our Theatre Royal was located for easy public access 180 odd years ago, and the site continues to attract crowds easily. A new performing arts centre will be built next door over the next couple of years.  The Tasmanian Art School is located close by in Hunter St adjacent to the wharves and jetties jutting into the Derwent River. It fits with history to develop an artistic precinct near the water.

Last weekend Hobart focused on the Derwent River

Last week I posted information in advance of the Royal Hobart Regatta and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival both of which celebrated Hobart’s water-based history on and in relation to the Derwent River.

On Friday afternoon, the Parade of Sails offered a flotilla of yachts and sailing ships which manoeuvred to the starting point of John Garrow Light and then headed upriver to Sullivans Cove at the wharf in Hobart. Followers may recall that, on an earlier stage of my walk along the Derwent River, I passed the John Garrow navigation light in Lower Sandy Bay when I reached Blinking Billy Point.

Last Friday I thought that a raised vantage point would give me a great view of the Parade of Sails, so I joined with neighbours from their balcony to watch.  I saw hundreds of marine craft sailing up the river on a heavenly blue sky day. The wind pushed them quickly upriver to Sandy Bay and then they seemed to stall. The sails congregated en masse close to shore between Wrest Point Hotel Casino and the suburb of Battery Point.

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This was so far away and unless you enlarge my photos you will believe there were few vessels on the Derwent River that day.  When not much forward movement happened, I realised that the finishing time for the Parade of Sails was 1.30pm but it wasn’t yet 1pm. Therefore, I presumed the ships decided to wait so the grand entrance/arrival into the Hobart docks could be on time.

On Monday I watched a swooping display from 4 synchronised planes, the Roulettes. They flew in complex formations around the city, across Mount Wellington and along the Derwent River, spewing steam behind to mark their athletic twists and turns.

It was a packed weekend and the media provided spectacular views of all the activities.  Have a look and consider being around when these events are held next time.

The Royal Hobart Regatta site is at: http://www.royalhobartregatta.com/

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival site is at: http://www.australianwoodenboatfestival.com.au/home

Colourful media coverage of this year’s events include:

An extra historical morsel regarding Browns River which runs out into the Derwent River

Browns River separates Tyndall Beach (below the Alum Cliffs) from Kingston Beach. On the Kingston side, a plaque remembers Robert Brown.

According to http://www.rampantscotland.com/placenames/placename_hobart.htm  the township of “Browns River was named after the noted Scottish botanist Robert Brown who explored the area a week after Hobart was founded. “  Apparently Hobart (Sullivans Cove) was established on 21 February 1804 (I shall remember the date because it is my birthday – well not the 1804 bit) and therefore before the end of February this ‘township’ of Browns River was in its infancy. A week – ye gods!  How quickly these pioneering settlers got around.  Nothing could happen so fast these days.  But, is the timing true or simply a legend? I don’t know.

The name was changed to Kingston in 1851 by the Governor of Van Diemens Land, Sir William Thomas Denison.  The website http://tasmaniaforeveryone.com/tasmanias-names-the-suburbs-of-hobart suggests “The name Kingston was advocated by the then Police Magistrate, Mr Lucas. Although his exact reason for deciding on the name of Kingston is unknown, there are many theories. His parents, Thomas and Anne Lucas, the district’s first settlers, lived at Norfolk Island before coming to Van Diemen’s Land and the capital of Norfolk Island was Kingston. Another possible reason is that Thomas was born in Surrey, England in a village close to New Kingston. It had been settled in 1808 by Thomas Lucas and his family, who were evacuated from Norfolk Island. He named his property ‘Kingston’, after the settlement on Norfolk Island. “

Blinking Billy Point, Lower Sandy Bay next to the Derwent River

Continuing Stage 11 of my walk along the Derwent River, I walked the foreshore from Long Beach towards Blinking Billy Point. Looking northwards, the crescent of Long Beach stretched before me.

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I passed a new set of public toilets around 10am and ten minutes later I was walking around Blinking Billy Point.

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This was an area to which Charles Darwin (http://www.biography.com/people/charles-darwin-9266433) walked from Sullivans Cove (my starting point for this Stage of the walk) in February 1836. The area’s local government has remembered the occasion with an information plaque.

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Out in the water is a marker for water craft: the John Garrow Light (established in 1953).  I have known this was a marker used in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race but I had never known where it was located.  Now I know: almost east of the Blinking Billy old lighthouse.  According to http://www.maritimetas.org/sites/all/files/maritime/nautical_news_winter_2002.pdf, John Garrow was a Sandy Bay pastry-cook, who lived in Bath St. Battery Point and died 1924. This begs the question – how did a nautical navigation tool come to be named after someone that seemingly had no connection with the Derwent?

I noticed that the Point has old defence structures embedded in the cliff. I learned that these were an adjunct to the huge hill behind with the remnants of the 19th century Alexandra Battery.

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Looking down the Derwent River through the glitter of the distance to the eastern shore, I could pick out Trywork Point (the southernmost tip of land before Ralphs Bay begins) and Gellibrand Point (the northern most point of the South Arm peninsula) both providing the ‘gateposts’ to Ralphs Bay. Previously, I explored these distant Points on Stage 2 and 3 of my walk.

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Then I looked back to Long Beach from Blinking Billy Point with Mount Wellington in the distance. How peaceful the world seemed.

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Despite the promises of a short beach in Geography Bay after the Blinking Billy Point, I knew better than to have expectations that continuing my walk on the foreshore was possible. The Sandy Bay Foreshore Track finishes at Blinking Billy Point.

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Some years ago a friend and I tried to walk the rocky shore southwards from Blinking Billy Point but, as the tide came in, there came a moment when we couldn’t move forward or backwards.  I remembered we scrambled up through someone’s property; the people were not at home and we let ourselves out onto the street hoping no alarm systems would be alerted. We were lucky that day.

Based on that memory, I knew it was not worth proceeding any further and retraced my steps around Blinking Billy Point until I could walk up to Sandy Bay Road.

Hobart’s Regatta Grounds and Cenotaph; missing Macquarie Point but reaching Hobart’s Sullivans Cove.

Leaving the navy depot on the edge of the Derwent River, I realised the distance to Hunter St and the beginning of Sullivans Cove in Hobart was not far.  That seemed like a perfect finishing destination for Stage 10 of my walk along the Derwent River, so onwards I plodded.

The ex-navy depot sits immediately next to the Regatta Grounds so I reached the Regatta Stand, set up for the annual audiences, very quickly – by 4.10pm.

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Hobart’s Regatta has a long history.  According to http://www.soldierswalk.org.au/walk_domain.html , “The Hobart Regatta is the nation’s second oldest and commenced in 1838 and has been staged every year since, bar two. A grandstand was built in 1877 and replaced by the John Colvin Stand in 1919-20.”  History and photos (including some of Queen Elizabeth visiting) can be seen at http://www.royalhobartregatta.com/History.html.

The day had become bleak and windswept. The area was empty of people and movement. Nevertheless, I continued walking along the dismal disused railway line and passed empty wood chopping competition blocks.

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Eventually I was stopped from walking to Macquarie Point on the Derwent River by a high fence with locked gates.  I did my best to continue walking around and as far as I could. But it was useless to think I could get much closer to the Point.  It simply was not accessible to walkers like me.

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I clambered up a weedy section and eventually climbed over a lower fence until I was standing on the lower grounds of the Cenotaph, a monument commemorating the men and women who have died in various wars. This is a significant site in Hobart on our nationally celebrated ANZAC Day each April 25th. As I began to leave, the time was 4.18pm.

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I walked around the Cenotaph,

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down an avenue onto the Highway opposite the Aquatic Centre, then turned left and continued until I reached the Grand Chancellor Hotel, which sits opposite the end of Hunter St, at 4.38pm.  A bus stop was nearby and within moments I was on a bus travelling back to the eastern shore to my home in Bellerive.  I felt like I was glowing from the achievement of having covered so much territory and history during this Stage 10 of my walk along the Derwent River. It had been a marvellous day!

Yesterday I completed Stage 10 of my sequential walk along the Derwent River

The goal for Stage 10 was to start at my last stopping point, MONA in the middle of Berriedale on the western shore of the Derwent River, and continue to Lutana the last suburb of the City of Glenorchy before the City of Hobart starts. But I went further.  Much further.  Almost much further than my feet could take me.  I walked to Hobart.

Over future posts I will write up the stories of the walk, what I saw and what I experienced, but for now it’s enough to say that I am continuing with this massive project to walk both sides of the Derwent between the mouth and Bridgewater, and then onwards to Lake St Clair. Once I get walking it is always so addictive.  Even when my feet feel crippled, I say to myself … ‘go just a little bit further. What else will I be able to see with fresh eyes?’

The day was gloomy with a cloudy sky, and Mount Wellington had veils of clouds covering at least part of its prominence most of the day. But it didn’t rain and so was perfect for walking.  However, the weather ensured the photographs were without sunshine.

Yesterday I covered 12 kilometres of the length of the Derwent River on the western shore (making 22 kms in total on the western shore), and walked approximately 19 kilometres (making a total of 130 kms to date) to achieve that distance. This distance also takes in the streets and paths on which I walked that led to dead ends so that I needed to retrace my footsteps.

Of the many highlights of the walk, I saw the building that once started life as Rosetta Cottage, and powerful Clydesdale horses with their large hairy feet.

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I surprised a friend still in pyjamas when I went visiting for the first time in my walks. The hot cups of tea were most welcome.

I am always excited when I walk the striped edged boardwalks of GASP (Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park) or pass the boatsheds of Cornelian Bay and it was no different yesterday.  See the photos below for a taste of the colour.

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I very much enjoyed looking at the eastern shore where I had walked during past stages and seeing the landscape from a different perspective.  I felt it made the Greater Hobart Area seem undeveloped in a way which is quite amazing for a capital city. For example, Bedlam Walls on the eastern shore from the western shore of the Derwent River, in the photo below.

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From comments I have received, I know my walks are inspiring others to think about what they might do. Even if you choose not to walk, perhaps you can set yourself other challenges.

My next walk will start at Hunter St at Sullivans Cove on the wharf in Hobart and probably extend to Kingston.  But before then I need to record the details of yesterday’s walk.