Tag Archives: Tarraleah Canal number 1

Growing up as a Hydro boy

Thanks to blog follower Mary, I have discovered a series of online stories about past Hydro workers some of whom helped build the Tarraleah Canal No 1 and others who lived near other electricity generating power stations along the Derwent River. These short stories make interesting reading and include photographs of the people and places.

I recommend you look at Hydro Tasmania’s site where the son of Jack Warren records his history.  The photo below from that site shows Jack at Canal No 1 in 1935.

Jack Warren 1935 from Mary

Simon Stansbie’s record of growing up at Wayatinah can be read on the Hydro Tasmania’s website. Ian Berry tells us what it was like to grow up at Butlers Gorge (where the Clark Dam was built to hold back the waters of Lake King William).  You can read this and see photos at Hydro Tasmania’s site.

Collectively these stories give a little insight into the human reality of living and working in remote central Tasmania to create the extraordinary electricity generating infrastructure last century which used the waters of the Derwent River.

Heather Felton published a book, which tells these and other stories of the people of ‘The Hydro’.  Read more about the book: The Ticklebelly Tales.

Cover Ticklebelly Tales - Hydro.jpg

Information about the book launch can be read in issues of the Cultural Heritage Program Newsletter ; and at a second site.

I am not sure what the word ‘Tickleberry’ refers to.  Do I have any blog followers with this knowledge?  According to Wikipedia part of Tarraleah, the area for the married quarters of the original community, was known as Tickleberry Flat. In addition, during my walks I know that I have passed an area mapped as Tickleberry Flat which is south east of Curringa Farm, and almost south of the town of Hamilton mid-way along Meadowbank Lake – a long way from Tarraleah.  In New Norfolk Tickleberry Farm grows raspberries.  The name Tickleberry comes up in many internet searches.  The Brighton, Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and Southern Midlands Councils Joint Land Use Planning Initiative – Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan tells us “Hydro-electric power schemes which commenced in the early 1910s saw the development of construction villages across the highlands at Waddamana (from 1911), Shannon (1925), Tarraleah (1934), Tickleberry Flats (1935), Butlers Gorge (1938), Bronte Park (1948) and Wayatinah (1952). As these small communities grew, schools, shops, community halls, medical facilities and offices were established.”

After all of this, I still wonder what the original meaning of Tickleberry is: maybe someone’s name or a common name for a plant.

Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – flowers and lichens

I was lucky, so lucky – beside the track a solitary Tasmanian native Waratah bloomed.  Coming across a specimen seemed like a miracle and I was in awe of its beauty.

Waratah 1.jpg

Waratah 2.jpg

This Waratah is not to be confused with the New South Wales Waratah – also red but with more bracts – you can see a photo on Wikipedia.

Elsewhere and occasionally, other floral plants which are native to Tasmania, added colour and texture to the landscape.  My identification of the plants is possibly flawed but here goes (corrections are welcome via comments against this post). I think the following photo shows an example of the Snowberry plant.


The next two photos show the Pink Mountain Berry.




The next photo is an example of Coprosma nitida known either as ‘Mountain Currant’ or ‘Native Currant’.


I am not sure what the plant is below.  Its pink berries are not spherical rather drop like, and they are fleshier than the Pink Mountain Berry.  I suspect it may be the Aristotelia peduncularis commonly known as the Heartberry.


Because of the extreme general wetness of this remote locality and the fact the vegetation is seldom disturbed, beautiful lichens grow on rock, fallen trees, man-made objects, and on road side markers.  I found these fascinating.  As I walked, I thought about the huge and sophisticated city of Angkor built many centuries ago then abandoned, and how nature reclaimed the man-made installations.  The small examples of nature reclaiming the ground that I saw on my walk along the Tarraleah Canal No 1 reminded me of the relentless urge for lifeforms to grow.

Lichen on rock.jpg


Lichen 1.jpg






Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – signs to side roads along the way

Around the Mossy Marsh Creek area and elsewhere, many short roads intersected with the Hydro road. These are pathways to assist Hydro Tas with monitoring and managing various aspects of the water flow.  They allowed me to continue to follow the Canal and be near the original river bed. Enjoy the glorious bush in the photos below.










Blog readers will have seen signs before, however the lovely things about these photos include the colours of the adjacent bush, the depth of soft looking leaf mulch beneath the tall trees and the sense of a rich wilderness all around.  The environment was truly splendid. Having a road to walk on was such a boon – manoeuvring through that bush would have been a major trial and perhaps not nearly as pleasant.

Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – bracken

When one of my Canadian blog followers commented on ‘ferns’ in some of my photographs,  I was able to tell him these ‘ferns’ were in fact a Tasmanian native known as ‘bracken’.  In undisturbed bush, bracken is occasional and dispersed, however after human intervention and land clearance, bracken takes over like a weed. Therefore, I was not surprised to find bracken edging some of the Canal and accompanying Hydro road.

Despite its propensity to take over, when growing and green this plant is very attractive. I took the following photos especially for my Canadian follower.  Despite being a plant I see all too often, I always like the look of their delicate frond unwindings.





You can read more about these plants at Weed Control in Tasmanian Forests 

Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – the original river bed

The Canal, with and without the Derwent River water flowing through it, has featured in my recent posts. Perhaps you have been wondering about the location of the original river bed.  As I walked I felt it close by and sometimes I could see it. After considerable thought I did not attempt to reach its edge during this walk. It was wild country down there. The distance between the Canal and the stony river bed was usually no more than 150 metres, but the hillside dropped away drastically losing 250 feet as it dropped down steeply.  Judging by cliffs that I saw on the other side of the river bed, I imagined that access to the river bed on my side would not always have been possible. I could see no value in forcing my way through the thick vegetation to try and reach the river bed and then forcing my walk back up the steep incline to the Canal, with the idea of repeating the process at intervals.  I simply could not see the value in such an activity. Besides, the bush density was such that a machete would probably have been the only way to make a path, and this wasn’t a tool I carried with me.

When I saw the river bed, it was a stony snake winding between forested hills. It seems so much further away in the photographs than it was in reality.





At one point, when I stared down a scree-like slope I considered making the steep trek to the river edge.


But the nature of the terrain screamed the potential of a ‘rolled ankle’ and so I continued walking along the Canal close by.

Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – the ‘bridge’ crossings

At intervals, Hydro Tasmania has structured simple narrow crossing bridges over the Tarraleah Canal number 1. The various vintages of these crossings seem to indicate changing needs over time.





One bridge appeared to be wide enough for some sort of vehicle to cross, but I wondered where the roadway or path was located on the other side.



Occasionally other buildings and solar panels were associated with a bridge.



Once, as part of the bridge package, I saw a special viewing platform.