Tag Archives: Tranmere

Mount Nelson Signal Station

Overlooking the centre of the city of Hobart and with a view sweeping across to the eastern shore of the Derwent River, Mount Nelson is host to a significant historical site, the Mount Nelson Signal Station.

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Wikipedia provides the information that originally this rise in the landscape was named ‘Nelson’s Hill’ after botanist David Nelson, who sailed on the ship ‘Bounty’ which visited Van Diemens Land on its way to Tahiti (the ship that was involved in the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty). In geological form, Mount Nelson amounts to not much more than a low foothill, however its name gives an indication that something grand awaits you if you venture to the top.

And such a visit is easy in a vehicle, or if you want to take an uphill walk from Hobart’s suburb of Sandy Bay.  In addition, the Mount Nelson via Dynnyrne and Tolmans Hill Metro bus service can deliver you to your destination.  If you like walking, you might choose to catch a bus to the top and then follow any one of a number of clearly marked tracks downhill. Yesterday I made a visit thanks to blog follower Je’s transport, accompanied by another follower Be who is visiting from Cairns.

From different vantage points, the spectacle of the Derwent River spread out below, made us breathless with delight. When I am walking at ground level along the Derwent River, the grand panoramas extending into the distance are denied me.  But yesterday it was exciting to see the bays and hills further afield.

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The photo above looks toward the mouth of the Derwent River on the eastern shore. South Arm peninsula can be seen extending along the water.  As  I stood on Mount Nelson I could clearly identify the Iron Pot, Fort Direction Hill, South Arm Beach, Opossum Bay and its beach, and  Gellibrand Point all of which I walked on during Stage 1 and 2 of my walk along the Derwent River.

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The photo above shows the eastern shore of the Derwent River with Gellibrand Point to the right on the northern tip of the South Arm peninsula. Then the great gaping space of Ralph’s Bay appeared straight ahead. To the left of the image, Trywork Point is in view; this was the starting point for Stage 3 of my walk (after I had walked there from the suburb of Tranmere).

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The photo above shows Ralphs Bay to the right, Trywork Point and then the suburb of Tranmere to the left – on the eastern shore of the Derwent River.

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The photo above shows the eastern shore from Tranmere on the right, through the suburbs of Howrah to Bellerive on the left – the River edges which I walked during Stages 4 and 5.

Across the parkland at the Mount Nelson Signal Station, native Wrens flitted around feeling safe as they hunted for insect meals on the ground.

I enjoyed looking at information panels on the site and learning more about how the place operated.  In addition, one panel showed the location of walking tracks.

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So … what is the history? Not long after Hobart was settled in the early 1800s, locals needed speedy and efficient communication between the convict settlement at Port Arthur and Hobart.  In addition, Hobart residents wanted foreknowledge of sailing ships approaching from the ocean through Storm Bay and on their way to the Derwent River in case any provided a threat to trade or security. To gather this information, in 1811 the Mount Nelson Signal Station was established and designed to use semaphore.  The method of communication was flags waving across the hills.  Details about the semaphore flag signalling system can be read at http://www.anbg.gov.au/flags/semaphore.html.  The site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semaphore_line provides further information. At the Mount Nelson Signal Station, flags were run up a pole – this seems a very cumbersome process compared to a person waving flags. I hope that someday the signal station will offer a demonstration to the public so I can understand the process.  Give me a re-enactment please.

This semaphore communication service continued in use until a more reliable system was available (what happened at the Signal Station on windy days, in wet weather and when clouds obscured the view?).   It was not until 1880 that a telephone line connected Hobart and Mount Nelson.

Walking around the area is free of charge.  Some pathways are provided. The site has various public amenities including picnic tables, public toilets, carpark, barbecues and a restaurant.

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For further information about eating in the heritage building pictured above, go to http://www.signalstation.com.au.  I recommend that you phone in advance if you are depending on eating there. Yesterday, despite permanent signs indicating the Brasserie was open, another sign on the building indicated it was closed.

During my visit, clouds loomed powerfully over the city and river. The day light was so bright and strong that when I turned northwards and photographed the land and riverscapes, the sky glowed white.  So I clicked a few images pointed at the sky and this silhouetted the landscape.  Using my simple mobile phone as camera, I was never able to control the light of the images.

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Although these looked like rain clouds, it did not rain.  These large puffs were just passing through.

What did I see on the walk along the Derwent River from Rosny to the Tasman Bridge last Friday?

Previous posts have explained the route I walked and the bus services that supported my walk from Rosny Point to Geilston Bay last Friday. This and a further couple of posts will provide colour and texture to those bones.

Once off the bus around 9.20am, I walked through a light open forest of wattle, gum, casuarina and other trees and could see snippets of calm Kangaroo Bay to my left. The photo below looks across the Bay to Bellerive Bluff which was the official finish point of Stage 4 of the walk. The suburb of Tranmere with Droughty Hill above, appears in the misty distance (the location of Stage 3 of my walk).

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The beautiful Bay seemed like murmuring silk. Almost no breeze. The whoosh of cars on distant roads seemed oddly out of time and place.

The Clarence Foreshore Trail passes the inaccessible Rosny Wastewater Treatment Plant on the left.  From the Trail, occasionally rough gravel tracks led down making it possible to reach the water’s edge and I could see Dominican Gulls on the rocks and the occasional Pied Cormorant. Around 15 minutes after leaving the bus I reached the Rosny Point curve where the land left Kangaroo Bay and moved around to edge the Derwent River.  A few minutes later, a Trail sign indicated the Tasman Bridge was 1.7 kilometres further on. I was thankful for the Trail because the narrow rocky shore was strewn with sharp broken oyster shells; later on I watched a family of Pied Oyster Catchers preening and resting – obviously they had eaten their fill.

A few days ago I posted the story that the ‘navy had come to town’. The photo below looks across the River from a place between Rosny Point and Montagu Bay and shows the grey green HMAS Arunta to the left of the orange Aurora Australis Antarctic icebreaker. Oh, and by the way, I discovered the Commander of this naval ship was once responsible for the HMAS Derwent.

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Close to 10am, I reached the Derwent River corner of Montagu Bay.  Harsh sounds filled the air; very vocal wattle birds and the growling of power brakes used by large trucks on the Tasman Bridge. From here, I had the choice to walk 200 metres up to the Rosny Hill Lookout. However, I continued on towards the heart of Montagu Bay past a clutter of upturned dinghies partly hidden in the bushes by the shore. By 10.05am, I was out of the forest and soon passing Langdon’s Welding shop on the left with workers out repairing some boats. By the Trail, I noted a large nectarine tree filled with the start of new fruit and made a mental note to walk this way in December when the fruit should be ripe.

At Montagu Bay I was stopped by an elegant contemporary public sculpture (unknown artist) which I did not know existed.  Well worth a visit. This was the Memorial to those who lost their lives when the Tasman Bridge crashed in 1975. Have a look at the photo below.

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The idea is that you look through these circles to pin point the part of the bridge which collapsed.  An information board provided additional information on this tragedy.

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The view across the Derwent from Montagu Bay was magnificent.

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Public Toilets are located near the Montagu Bay Reserve parkland area. This area is one of many that are child friendly with kids play equipment for free use.

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300 metres along the Clarence Foreshore Trail after passing huge old pine trees, massive gums with fanciful ‘painted’ bark trunks, then the Montagu Bay Primary School on the right, I reached the Tasman Bridge which I walked beneath to continue towards Rose Bay. The time was 10.20am.

Kangaroo Bluff Historic Reserve and Bellerive Fort

Near the end of my Stage 4 walk from Tranmere to Bellerive Bluff along the Derwent River, I saw a sign pointing to the Kangaroo Bluff Historic Reserve which I chose not to visit. However, my curiosity was aroused. So the next day, last Saturday, I made a special trip and walked to the Reserve to find out more.

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As I walked toward the entrance, I was puzzled. I could see a narrow road passing between two raised hills. On closer inspection when I discovered a massive deep and long ditch from the left to the right outside the stone edged wall of earth, clearly this site was the remains of a fortification.

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The site was a battery complex with underground tunnels and chambers for magazines, stores, the lamp room, a well and loading galleries. The public do not have access to the underground since these parts were bricked up in the 1920s: I would have been very interested to see the speaking tubes set into the walls used for communication purposes.

However there are many metres of well-preserved channels which can be walked in and around.

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Signage provided useful information. I now understand that the idea of a protective Fort was first discussed in the 1830s as a means to protect the merchant ships travelling up the Derwent River, although I am unclear who might have attacked from the sea because Van Diemen’s Land (now named Tasmania) was very isolated from the rest of New Holland (now named Australia). However, it was not until difficulties were being felt between England and Russia in the 1870s that a renewed push for a Fort was made.

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By 1885 the defensive Fort was built – although I cannot imagine why anyone would think that Russia would believe it useful to send a war ship to the tiny colonial and penal colony in Hobart. It does not surprise me that the two canons were never used as war weapon.

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Walking Howrah and Bellerive Beaches on Stage 4 of my walk along the Derwent River

On arrival on Howrah Beach, I chose not to deviate to the Shoreline Shopping Centre, having no desire for shopping and because the fresh air and walking experience was such a joy. The long Howrah Beach was almost deserted, however occasionally happy dogs and mostly happy owners were enjoying themselves; I am never sure who is taking who for a walk.  I was fascinated by the man who declared he was deaf and then told me his dog was deaf, yet they both seemed to communicate well and understand each other.

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The photo above shows the stretch ahead of me as I started along Howrah Beach. The photo below shows the Beach when I had walked half its length.

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The sky gathered clouds, and the onshore breeze cooled the air as I walked. Before long I reached Second Bluff at the end of the Howrah Beach, and walked up and along the gravel pathway around this headland. At both the southern and northern ends of Second Bluff it is easily possible to walk off towards roads and, in the distance, to reach the main connecting route, Clarence Street, along which buses run regularly.

While walking around this Bluff, I passed some large Australian native Leptospermum trees in full flower; their snow-white petals presented a spectacular display.  Off and on I noticed bright bursts of fleshy native pigface acting as ground cover, with its purple-pink flowers made brilliant by the sunlight. I was afforded spectacular views back to Howrah, Tranmere, Droughty Hill, across the opening of Ralph’s Bay, and of Gellibrand Point and Fort Hill on the South Arm peninsula.

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Once I reached the Bellerive Beach stairs, I descended and took my walk towards the northern end of the Beach over a kilometre away.

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From time to time tall white poles with red tops are positioned along the beach to indicate walkways to the Clarence Foreshore Trail behind the dunes and then the roads and suburban houses of Bellerive.

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Bellerive Beach is much frequented by fitness fanatics, walkers, joggers, kids, families, individuals, and dogs on leads with owners.  The clean sand, the tide moving the Derwent up and down the beach, and the startling prominence of Mount Wellington are always welcome.

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Near the far end of the Bellerive Beach, a massive structure looms above a row of tall pine trees. This is Blundstone Arena, once known as the Bellerive Cricket Ground. This sportsground, as a national venue for international and local cricket games in the summer, also hosts major AFL (Australian Rules Football) and state level games during the winter months. Between Blundstone Arena and the beach are public toilets along the edge of the Clarence Foreshore Trail.

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Further on and next to the Trail, an outdoor adult gym inspires beach visitors and picnickers to push and pull and otherwise move their bodies.  From here you can see a blue and white painted building standing prominently.

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This is Bellerive Beach’s Fish Bar where fresh fish and other seafood is battered or crumbed and cooked while patrons wait. Dining in or taking away are the two options; the weather and wind generally controls whether I take a fresh cooked meal and sit on the edge of the beach with friends. I live in Bellerive and so I know very well this Beach and all the delights which it offers.

On this walk as usual, I brought my own packed lunch so I passed the Fish Bar and sat towards the end of the beach, and munched and contemplated the leisurely activity of others. A simple pleasure amidst the flighty flashing of hungry squawking silver gulls, all expecting to be fed.

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Shoreline Shopping and Hotel complex – as a stopover option on a walk along the Derwent River

Situated on Shoreline Drive in Howrah, this smallish shopping centre contains a variety of shops and facilities including a branch of the Commonwealth Bank, Woolworth’s supermarket, an optometrist, a pharmacy, children’s clothing store, a newsagent, a dry cleaner and eating cafes such as Subway and Banjos Bakery Cafe.

Amidst the car park and on the other side of the mini bus mall, the Shoreline Hotel offers a large bistro, bottle shop, a gaming section, 3 bars, a function area and accommodation.

For out of town visitors who want to copy the first four stages of my walk along the Derwent River, the Shoreline would offer a central position: the buses to South Arm and Opossum Bay and to Tranmere all pass through here.

Walking around Howrah Point to Little Howrah Beach on Stage 4 of my walk along the Derwent River

This is not a walk I would recommend to others.

After leaving the main Clarence Foreshore Trail and for a while, I seemed to be walking on private property in someone’s garden; however there were clear markings that others had walked this way before. I realised people would not own all the land they mowed and that the Foreshore here would be public land.

Six minutes into this walk, the only way forward was to clamber down onto the rocks and, like a happy goat, wander up and down and up and down to continue.  Initially I rocked and rolled on large moving pebbles (ankle twisters) and from then on I was more observant about where each footstep was placed than looking at the scenery.

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Another five minutes later I was surprised to look up at a house with a flag pole on which flew the Tasmanian State flag. It is not often this flag is seen except on Government House and near our State Parliament building.

Continuing along, I enjoyed the colour of endless rocks with their bright lichens in every shade of yellow through to burnt orange. In places, the lichens almost ‘inflamed’ the rocks. Fabulous!

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Fences and gateways often barred entry to the homes perched above the rocks. A woman mowing her lawn waved to me.  Only idiots or friends would walk where I did.  To be fair, a lot of the rock walking was easy and a pleasant experience. However, since it took around 50 minutes for me to walk around Howrah Point to Little Howrah Beach, you can imagine that towards the end of the time and when I could see the main Howrah Beach in the distance, I did not want to retrace my steps. The difficulties were yet to come. If I had stayed on the main Clarence Foreshore Trail, perhaps I needed only to have walked for 15 minutes to reach the first beach for the day.

Within metres of reaching Little Howrah Beach, the Derwent River’s water reached the inaccessible bank. The few rocks above the water level were smooth and slippery with green water plants. Overhanging the bank were spiky branches from dead bushes.  Need I say more? This was not a safe place to walk. But I did continue and quite soon I sloshed up at the open ground adjacent to Little Howrah Beach.

Walking through Tranmere to the start of Howrah Point on Stage 4 of my walk along the Derwent River

As I walked back towards the city, the Clarence Foreshore Trail started as a concreted pathway for cyclists and pedestrians, then stopped and started as a formal walkway; sometimes I walked on the road and sometimes on the grassy verge.  Car traffic was almost non-existent. At bus stop 30 there were seats to enjoy the view, and a shelter offered protection from the weather. The air was perfumed with the smell of cypress trees expressing their oils as the early morning sun heated their branches. Magpie birds warbled musically from the trees. I spotted the occasional Pied Oyster Catcher, Cormorants holding their breath and diving deep for fish, and a single speed boat whizzing up the River in the distance. Very few people around.

When the track dipped down as a gravel pathway edging the Derwent River, the mowed lawns of the back yards of houses edged this walkway. Green. Peaceful. And without fences, I could appreciate the large picture windows installed in many houses, for the view of the Derwent Harbour and further beyond. Groves of Casuarina trees barely whispered in the slightest of breezes. Stands of almighty gum trees occasionally blocked the sun. Plump yellow beaked Dominican Gulls rested on sunny rocks above the moving water. Pairs of plovers hoping to protect their babies screamed overhead. A tourist sight-seeing aeroplane droned along the river. Walkers with their smiling happy Labradors, German Shepherds, Shitsus and all manner of other canines greeted me.

This was easy strolling but I was always edgy and watchful for any cyclists that might wish to share the pathway.

I saw evidence of Landcare – new trees have been planted, staked and surrounded with protective plastic. Occasionally I noticed public tracks from this Trail that went back up the hill to Tranmere Road, giving walkers the option of where they walked as they continued along the River. Occasionally I came across public seats where you could, if you wished, rest and enjoy the magnificent views. Swings and slides could be used by kids at the small Anulka Park.

Around 50 minutes after leaving the bus, I arrived at a sign which provided a list of plant species in Clarence, and which offered information about weeds and escaping exotics and the dangers these pose to our native vegetation. At this point, the Trail curved uphill and this is the way any future walker should go.  The alternative is comparatively difficult and dangerous.  However, I did not know this at the time and I decided to stay low and hug the Derwent River edge. I was about to walk around Howrah Point.