Tag Archives: The Mercury

The Max Angus 1990 exhibition

A few weeks ago I added a couple of posts to this blog about an art exhibition by the late renowned Tasmanian artist Max Angus titled Aspects of the Derwent from the source to the sea.

I did not have a copy of the exhibition catalogue and encouraged any reader who had a copy to let me know.  I imagined the publication would contain only a list of the names of each work of art and the price and not contain photographs, nevertheless I did believe reading it would be instructive. I hoped to learn the locations which Max Angus painted along the Derwent River.  Unfortunately a copy of the catalogue has not surfaced.

Since then I have been working through microfiche at the State Library of Tasmania looking at The Mercury newspaper hoping to find a review of the exhibition.  From Googling I knew the exhibition’s title and the year – 1990.  Thankfully that information limited the search.  In addition, the watercolour painting, purchased from the exhibition by my friend’s mother, was dated October 1990. Yesterday I found the gallery list in The Mercury on the 6th October 1990 providing the information that the Aspects of the Derwent from the source to the sea exhibition was already open at the Freeman Gallery and would continue until October 22nd. Since the exhibitions at that venue typically lasted 14 – 21 days, probably the show opened around the 5th October.

With continued research I was fortunate to find the exhibition review in the Saturday Weekend Arts of The Mercury newspaper for the 13 October 1990. I was particularly interested to read a few of journalist Susan Leggett’s comments:

“This very large exhibition – 64 works in all – is a powerful, careful and stunning collection.”

“Angus has read and evoked the nature of the turbulent, dynamic entity …” when referring to the Derwent River.

“He has not only painted images  of a real river travelling along its course, but created a sort of separate reality for it – an extra dimension.”

“It is all well observed and stunningly translated.”

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The image included with the article is of the painting Yachts on the Harbour. The friend mentioned elsewhere in this post, is an avid sailor on the Derwent Harbour.  I wonder whether she was out there that day when Max Angus painted this picture and her yacht is in the mix.

Last but not least, since the painting belonging to my friend’s mother was painted in October 1990, then the paint was hardly dry before being taken into the Gallery for hanging.

Andrew Hughes has walked, rafted and canoed the Derwent over the past month

My last post introduced the Expedition Class’s  latest project.  The key man during the journey was Andrew Hughes and now his trek is complete.

The first newspaper coverage of this story was published in The Mercury last May.

The Mercury published another story recently ‘Warm welcome for adventurer Andrew Hughes as he paddles into GASP‘. His journey started north east of Lake St Clair in central Tasmania and now Andrew has crossed an imaginary finish line between the Iron Pot on the eastern side of the Derwent River and Tinderbox on the western side and this conclusion has been covered again in The Mercury.

If you go to the web,  you can read the mini ‘Live Reports’ of the 28 sections of his journey. You can peruse a collection of photos for each section. The information in the reports is limited and no information is offered with the photographs.  Unless you have travelled the  edge of or on the Derwent River, it would be difficult if not impossible to identify locations.

A comparison of some of Andrew’s photos with those I took during my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River, makes for interesting viewing.

Firstly I would like to compare the rush of water over the river rocks between Wayatinah and Butlers Gorge that Andrew saw compared to the low almost absent water level that I experienced on two occasions. Since I completed my walks along the Derwent earlier this year, Tasmania has been inundated with unexpected high levels of rain which have raised the water levels in the dams and the Derwent River.

The photo below was taken by me in October 2015.

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The next photo was taken by me in January 2016

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The photo below is by Andrew as shown in his Live Report 18.

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My photo below shows the water level of the huge 15 kilometre Lake King William was so much lower in October 2015.

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My photo taken only 2 ½ months later at the beginning of January this year, showed the water level  had dropped dramatically so that the Tasmanian government was considerably worried about our electricity generation options.

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In Live Report 15 Andrew shows the Lake King William water backed up to Clark Dam at Butlers Gorge. Tasmania is no longer worrying about our water storage facilities and power generation. Again we have enough water to create clean electricity.

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These photos are wonderful reminders of the unpredictability and power of nature.   Andrew’s reports and photos are an excellent example of people getting out into our Tasmanian wilderness and experiencing it’s challenges and wonders.  I hope his trek inspires others not necessarily to cover the same territory, but to find new country to discover and enjoy.  To be refreshed by the purity of the bush.

In the local news

Recently our local newspaper The Mercury published a Letter to the Editor from a woman who wants the Derwent River to become a World Heritage Site.  I imagine long term readers of my blog will come immediately to a similar opinion to mine.  I think the ‘horse has bolted’: the river is no longer running freely and its edges are no longer clothed in pristine original bush, both features which I feel sure an application for World Heritage status would need.  So I sent off a response to that letter. Thanks Mary for alerting me to its publication.

My photograph below blurs my words – they read: Joanne Marsh (Letter to Ed 12/2/16), when she argues for the Derwent River to become a World Heritage Site, does not know the Derwent River well. During my ‘walkingthederwent’ project from the mouth near the Iron Pot to the source near Lake St Clair, I have seen both sides of our River. Very little original forest and environment remains. Where the edges of the River have not been built on by private owners or businesses, shaped by local government into parkland, or cleared for cattle or sheep to graze or to grow crops, the land is covered with plantation forests. Upstream, the Derwent River has been re-engineered with dams, lakes and lagoons. The birds still sing along the Derwent River, but very little of its edges has World Heritage significance. Perhaps that is the shame of the situation.

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A more recent letter writer believes the Derwent River is of World Heritage value based on the view that esteemed French and English explorers, prior to European settlement, named the River.  I will be interested to see if future letters are published on this theme.

Dunrobin Bridge over Meadowbank Lake

 

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Meadowbank Lake, a large spread of dammed water through which the Derwent River runs,  is located west of New Norfolk: an expanse of water which measures at least 15 kms in length.  Like many other dams and lakes on the Derwent, Meadowbank has been designed for electricity generation purposes.  The Meadowbank Power Station was commissioned in 1967. In a document The Power of Nature, Hydro Tasmania provides information about Meadowbank and the other electricity-generating lakes and stations across Tasmania.

The Dunrobin Bridge carries Dawson Road; a road which extends from the Lyell Highway, crosses Meadowbank Lake then continues on the western shore until it reaches Lake Repulse Dam.

The first Dunrobin Bridge over the Derwent River was built in the early 1850s. The National Library of Australia’s Trove repository of historic documents provides information from a 1910 copy of The Mercury newspaper: ‘Dunrobin Bridge was built over the Derwent, between the Ouse and Hamilton during the regime of Governor Denison. Governor Denison’s rule in Tasmania lasted from 1847 to 1855. It is a fine stone structure, and the cost is stated in the Legislative Council Journals of 1856 to have been £13,875. Its construction seems to have occupied six years, from 1850 to 1856. Dawson’s Road, which was named after the man who superintended its construction, went from Dunrobin Bridge…’ westwards.

In 1900, according to the blog Tasmanian Gothic , the bridge looked like:

Dunrobin Bridge

Dunrobin Bridge

The bridge was damaged during flooding in 1952 according to Linc Tasmania.

Dunrobin 1952

This site shows the remains of the bridge in 1963.

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Once the Meadowbank Dam was built, the gorge behind gradually filled with water. The remnants of the old Dunrobin Bridge apparently remain beneath the current Meadowbank Lake.  I cannot find when the new Dunrobin Bridge was built.  Anybody know the date?

The photos of Chantale, Michelle and I show the current bridge across the northern section of Meadowbank Lake.

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At ground level, the Dunrobin Bridge curves across the Lake in a stunning simple arc.

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As I walked in the vicinity, time and again I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape.

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Did I feel uneasy walking alone past Murphys Flat on Stage 14 of my walk along the Derwent River? Answers and extraordinary stories.

Yesterday one of my posts introduced Addington Lodge as a Haunted House and since then a few readers have wanted to know more.

Photo of Addington Lodge

The photograph above is of Addington Lodge, Granton, apparently a former residence of Governor Arthur – from the collection of Linc Tasmania

In Hobart’s The Mercury newspaper of Saturday 6 July 1935 (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/30094484?searchTerm=Anthony+Geiss), J Moore-Robinson wrote his version of the history of the House and area (then not known as Murphys Flat rather as Marsh Farm). A few descriptions and some extraordinary stories of what happened to a hop picker and others, create a feeling of how the crumbling remains of Addington seemed at that time.

The author talked about people “who visit southern Tasmania who have not seen the Haunted House but have been intrigued by its shady reputation and shadowy tradition. Empty and forlorn it stands to-day near the road-side on the way to New Norfolk, a gaunt spectre of a vague past, a meet  and fitting rendezvous for apparitions which, if the poets speak truly, steal at the witching hour of midnight, from yawning graves and uneasy vaults, to curdle the blood of humans. Motorists roll by unthinking at all hours of the day and night, but pedestrians, I am told, walk warily, or walk not at all past the place.”

Did I walk warily? Well yes I did. But my caution was the result of the stream of traffic pouring down the highway a couple of feet next to me.  Sometimes, in some situations, my body can feel ’something’ about a location, but with the incessant roar of vehicles close to my left ear, the brittle wind in my face, and the chilly temperatures I was charging on northwards and gave no thought to ghosts of the past.  Perhaps the bright hard sunlight kept them at bay.

The newspaper article continued: “The existing owner, Mr. F. B. Rathbone of Mt. Nassau, tells me that the place has been rather a bane and an expense to him, and he will not be sorry when nothing remains but a heap of rubble foundations. I asked him why. ‘I have lived in the place myself for weeks at a time,’ he said. ‘My son lived in it for more than a year. Neither of us saw anything uncanny, yet nobody will take it. It has a bad name, and I think it better to let it fall to ruins’. It appears that long before the war, folk were apprehensive and the Haunted House, lacking regular tenants, frequently was empty. Mr. Rathbone said that there are no spectres, never were any and that the noises and apparitions came from a loose board in the roof and from rats, rolling-apples and potatoes in a cupboard.”

But is this true? The newspaper article continued and included a number of stories which might explain the haunting reputation, and which might even be factual.

The hop-picker story

“Shortly before the embers of discontent of South Africa burst into the flames of war, a hop-picker having drawn his cash at Bushy Park was ’Waltzing Matilda’ to Hobart.  He was weary with tramping the hot and dusty road but, doubtless he looked forward, with unfeigned pleasure to the flesh pots and foaming tankards, of the city. As the sun set, he came, unaware of its story, to the Haunted House.  Shadows deepened on the nearby river as the hop picker, pushed open an unfastened door, entered the fateful house, ate his cold mutton and bread, washed it down with part of a billy-can of beer purchased at New Norfolk, spread his blanket on the floor, and slept the sleep of the weary. Presently he stirred and rubbed his eyes and, as he looked, the very marrow froze in his bones. His hair stood on end and his heart seemed to stay its pulsing, for rising before him in the doorway he saw a ghastly thing. ‘Thing’ is the right word, for the hop-picker had not seen or dreamed of anything like it. Thin legs, curved, and bent, supported an enormous body which, though it seemed to be clothed, was still visible to the trembling mortal who saw the apparition’s internal organs hideously pulsing and distended. Its neck, gashed from ear to ear, was unable to support the head which sagged horribly from one side to the other. Blood dropped from the severed jugular and the baleful gleams from the staring eyes pierced the semi-darkness and seemed to impale the terrified watcher. A butcher’s knife was clasped tightly in the spectre’s right hand, and hand and knife were horribly red.

In a crouching pose, the creature swayed toward the ‘hopper’, whose limbs seemed fettered by unseen manacles, from which he writhed and struggled to free himself as the menacing and blood stained figure approached. A foul smelling breath stung his nostrils and the knife was within striking distance of his heart, when, with a wrench that would have done credit to Samson, the ‘hopper’ broke free, dodged the ghost, darted through the doorway and, looking neither right nor left, sped down the road, a white and terror-stricken figure clad only in a shirt. Feeling rather than seeing the ‘thing’ close behind him, he essayed a short cut over a bank, slipped on a stone, gashed his head on a sharp rock, and lapsed into blessed insensibility. When he came to, he found himself prone on the cold floor of the room in which he supped. His blanket lay in a disordered heap. His fingers bled where he had scratched and torn at the floorboards. A lump on the side of his head betokened a meeting with some foreign body. Looking around cautiously the ‘hopper’ could see nothing of his ghastly visitor but, thinking discretion the better part of valour, gathered his belongings, moved tremulously through the door to spend the remaining hours of darkness in vigil by the roadside.”

The hopper’s ghost

“It is said that the hopper’s ghost is the spiritual remnant of a whaler, who, wandering further afield than usual, met at the Golden Fleece (for that was the sign of the haunted house 100 years ago) a bushranger disguised as an honest man. The pair spent some happy hours until the Tasmanian Robin Hood, seeing his chance expertly slit the throat of his ‘friend’ and disappeared with his wallet.”

Lady with the broken heart

Another story has to do with a young and beautiful woman who, betrayed by the usual dashing cavalier, languished in spite of the kindly protection of the landlady until, with a broken heart and saying a prayer for bitter revenge, she stabbed herself, and so went away to brighter, and, I hope, happier fields.

The landlord and his landlady

Still another tale is told about the landlord and the landlady, when the place was the William the Fourth hostelry. This couple, having decided to essay life together without bothering the clergy lived happily for a while, but only for a while. Quarrel followed quarrel, and in these the woman usually came out on top for she was bigger, quicker and stronger, although the landlord had been a soldier and had seen wars, having been with that army which ‘swore terribly in Flanders’, he became tired of being the vanquished, and one day finding his ‘wife’ asleep, stabbed her.  Not content with that, he drove a spike into her head, cut out her tongue, slit her throat and not being quite sure at this stage that she was really dead, and poured some poison down her throat. He then tenderly buried her and was caught and duly hanged which seems to be the only really proper and moral part of the story.”

The Golden Fleece’s reputation as an Inn

“It was during Fitzgerald’s term as licensee that, according to legend and tradition, the place achieved its notoriety, which, considering the grounds on which he was later pilloried is not surprising. It is certain that the ‘Golden Fleece’ had an evil reputation, and that the name was truly descriptive of the ‘fleecing’ accomplished within its walls, and the ‘golden’ results which accrued to the enterprising landlord.”

Kelvin Markham (http://www.km.com.au/tasmania/ch14.htm) has a different view on why the House was haunted.

During the twenty one mile journey to New Norfolk, I had the company of a ghost – one Denis McCarty. To you who follow me along this road, the first made in Tasmania, I present this Irish ghost, ex-convict, constable, farmer and grazier, road-maker, Deputy Provost Marshal and much more. My assertion is that Denis, after all his troubles in constructing the road, drinking his share of the 500 gallons of rum that were to be part payment, and then dying whilst his claims for final settlement were being considered by Governor Sorell and Macquarie, perambulates this unpaid-for road, and, when he finds it necessary to take shelter, rests in the old Golden Fleece.  If you dive into the history of this road, you will learn a number of things. For example You will stand at his deathbed, seeing it only as through a glass darkly, and wonder what Jemott and Broadribb had to do with it – if anything. Contemporary records refer mysteriously to these persons as knowing more than they should of McCarty’s end.”

These background stories and reasons for Addington House or Lodge/Golden Fleece Inn/William the Fourth hostelry to be haunted make for wonderful fiction-writing and movie-making opportunities.  Anyone interested?

Add Lodge drawing -UTAS library

The image above is a drawing of ‘Addington Lodge Colonel Arthur’s Marsh Farm between Bridgewater and Sorell Creek Derwent Valley’/’The Haunted House on the Granton New-Norfolk Road’ by artist A. T. Fleury c1931 – from the collection of Linc Tasmania

Setting ‘Mt Everest’ level goals

I am in awe of those who set themselves dangerous projects, especially those associated with water.

Today’s local newspaper, The Mercury, reports that a group of mates ‘the injured, ill and wounded former and serving Australian soldiers’ have successfully kayaked across Bass Strait.  This is the wash of wind-blown, wild water which separates the State of Tasmania from mainland Australia.  This is the patch of water which, when the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race passes across it each December, masts may be broken, yachts overturned and sailors drowned.

At the narrowest and easiest route, the distance is 330 kilometres. The kayakers left north eastern Tasmania on March 14, were delayed in the Flinders Island area for 11 days with bad weather, and arrived yesterday in Victoria after 24 days. ’The challenges don’t come any tougher, with elite kayakers referring to the Bass Strait route as the “Everest of the sea’.

The story is from: http://www.news.com.au/national/tasmania/military-mates-conquer-everest-by-crossing-bass-strait-by-kayak/story-fnn32rbc-1227294031866

There is no doubt this was an extreme project undertaken by a group of people who might otherwise have believed they had limits on what they could do in their life.

I see it as a strong reminder that our bodies are capable of so much more than we push them through, and that it is our minds which sets most limits. So when I hear people say things like ‘I couldn’t do that or I couldn’t do what you do’, there is nothing wrong with saying that as long as their next sentence is something like, ‘but what I can do is ….xxx….’  The scale of the project doesn’t matter. Whether a ‘Mt Everest’ or a tiny mole hill type goal is set, the important thing is to do something that pushes you even slightly outside your comfort zone.  It is so enriching to do something that, after you have finished, you can look back on and think ‘I did that and no-one can ever take away that achievement from me’.

You may be surprised to know that I am terrified of the walk ahead of me to Lake St Clair. I realise this ‘Walking the Derwent’ is a puny project by comparison with the Bass Strait crossing by kayak. However, in my own terms, this is my ‘Mt Everest’ sized project.  I have never talked in this blog about my physical characteristics, but if you had my size, age, gender, health situation and other personal characteristics you might think that attempting this project is crazy.  My antidote to the fear is to remind myself to think of the small steps and not to concern myself with the big distances, the isolation and the impenetrable bush.  I tell myself that I only have to put one foot after the other, and that because each step is always okay, the whole distance can be achieved.

From Lower Sandy Bay to Cartwright Park Reserve and beyond on Stage 11

After leaving breezy Blinking Billy Point, I arrived back on the main road (Sandy Bay Road) at 10.20am, and turned left ready to continue my southward walk.

I was aware the Alexandra Battery once stood in all its glory, waiting to defend Hobart Town from invaders, on the large hill on the other side of the road. Construction on this site commenced around 1880 using stone from the dismantled Battery Point batteries. The heartfelt need of 19th century locals to defend the Derwent River and the new settlements from Russian invasion along its edges has never seemed necessary to me. When I read the following Wikipedia entry I could only think about how fear feeds off misunderstandings. “On 11 May 1870, the corvette Boyarin appeared at the Derwent River and rumours spread in Hobart that a Russian invasion was almost a certainty. The reason for the appearance of the Russian warship was humanitarian in nature; the ship’s purser was ill and Captain Serkov gained permission to hospitalise Grigory Belavin and remain in port for two weeks to replenish supplies and give the crew opportunity for some shore leave. The ship’s officers were guests at the Governor’s Ball held in honour of the birthday of Queen Victoria, and The Mercury (newspaper) noted that the officers were gallant and spoke three languages including English and French. The following day a parade was held, and the crew of the Boyarin raised the Union Jack (the colonys’ ‘national’ flag) on its mast and fired a 21-gun salute in honour to the British queen. This was reciprocated by the town garrison which raised the Russian Naval flag of Saint Andrew and fired a salute in honour of Tsar Alexander II. After the death of Belavin, permission was given to bury him on shore, and his funeral saw the attendance of thousands of Hobart residents, and the locals donated funds to provide for a headstone on his grave. In gratitude of the welcome and care given by the Hobart citizenry, Captain Serkov presented the city with two mortars from the ship, which still stand at the entrance to the Anglesea Barracks. When the Boyarin left Hobart on 12 June, a military band onshore played God Save the Tsar, and the ship’s crew replied by playing God Save the Queen (then our national anthem).”

Alexandra Battery is currently a public access park with some of the original structures embedded in the landscape.  I imagine the view along and across the Derwent River would be spectacular, but since visiting the site would have moved me away from the water, I simply walked on and made a mental note to come back another time and have a close look.  This hill would provide an easily accessible location on which to watch the dying stages of the first Sydney to Hobart Yacht race yachts surging towards the finish line.  I must remember that at the end of this year.

By 10.25am I was continuing past the junction of Sandy Bay Road with Churchill Ave a major thoroughfare wandering across the lower slopes of Mount Nelson.  All the time I was inspecting houses and gardens.  I cannot imagine why an old fashioned red telephone box is now pride of place at the top of entrance stairs to this house.

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I seriously contemplated popping over to this pub (Riverview Inn) for a glass of cold wine, but restrained myself.  I am surprised with my self-discipline that I have passed a great number of good ‘watering holes’ but have not deviated from the walk – so far.

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Twenty minutes later I reached Pearce’s Park.  I had never realised before but there are two bits of this Park located either side of the road but with quite some distance between them down the road. Rather strange.  The sign at the Park on the Derwent River side declared it was created to become ‘a window to the River Derwent’.

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An excellent idea to break the relentless strip of residences hogging the river’s edge.  I could look across the Derwent River to Trywork Point south of the suburb of Tranmere on the eastern shore.  Sulphur Crested Cockatoos screeched somewhere behind me.  The day seemed so beautiful.

Around 11am I stood at the entrance to the Cartwright Park Reserve.  This parkland swept downhill through open forest and a cleared area with flitting cheeky Wrens, before arriving on a rocky shore of the Derwent River near Cartwright Creek.  The last part of this informal track was a mix of slippery dirt and pebbles and intrusive tree roots like bad varicose veins rippling through the surface – the track was not for those with poor balance or walking limitations.  And the range of rocks on the shore were most unstable and required great care to navigate safely. I learnt this area was settled by the brothers who established the Grange Estate (around the corner in Taroona) in the 1820s. It all seems so long ago, and I can’t help thinking how isolated the area would have been. Beautiful yes, but remote from Hobart Town.  I wonder if the settlers reached the area by boats or whether it was a horse riding trip.  Did they bring in provisions with teams of bullocks.

Once I was stepping across the foreshore rocks it was clear that the track had come to an end. However, because I never like to retrace my steps unless I absolutely must, I stumbled on.  I wondered if I could get back to a road or a track if I continued. I aimed at reaching a tiny smidgin of sand and then decided I would walk up a set of weathered wooden steps next to a blue-doored boathouse.  Was this private property? There were no signs declaring restricted access. It certainly wasn’t clear at the bottom of the steps what the status of the steps was, so I felt it wasn’t unreasonable for me to climb up and find out more.  As it turned out, I walked through someone’s garden (quite lovely) and eventually let myself out through a security gate onto Grange Avenue.  Thankfully no guard dogs were in attendance. The time was 11.20am.

If I had stayed on the main road I would have seen the signs indicating I was leaving the City of Hobart and changing into the Municipality of Kingborough.  As it was, all I knew was that I was leaving Lower Sandy Bay and entering into the suburb of Taroona – and enjoying every moment.