Tag Archives: water

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 8 of 13

 

When I reached the top of one of many hills, the heat of the day was intense and weariness forced me to stop.  I ate a little lunch. Sipped a little water. Thought about its reducing quantity. Lay down in the shade. And fell asleep.

Increasingly, I was acknowledging my water situation could become serious.

At the start of my walks I carry two one-litre bladders (Think 2kgs of weight).  By the early afternoon I estimated this quantity might not be sufficient: I realised that the hot weather, the energy required to navigate my way around contours and up and down hills, the need to have water to cook with, clean the teeth, and continue on, were likely to deplete my supplies. If I didn’t find water to replenish my resources I could be in trouble.

As it turned out, the first creek with the brown running water was the only source of water that I might have drunk, if pushed.  Later creeks trickled sluggishly and pools sat with green slime and algae.  Obviously no rain had flushed these creeks in ages.

By late afternoon I decided to head inland to a man-made dam of water clearly marked on the map; I was walking away from the River but I needed water and this seemed the only sensible solution.  I walked up and down more serious hills until the dam was in view (can you spot the dam in the first photo?).

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After walking for around seven hours, this nameless dam was a huge disappointment.  The water edges were pudgy with cattle trampings so that the mud oozed up around my walking boots and threatened to suck them off my feet. And the low level of water left in the dam was a thick brown mix. Unreachable and undrinkable.

That night, I didn’t cook because water would have been required. Instead I finished eating my lunch for dinner.  Again at breakfast I ate food which did not require rehydration. At no time did I brush my teeth, although I would have loved to. Keeping water to sip was more important than niceties.

Next morning I walked for two hours to reach the Catagunya complex.  No creeks ran with clean water on the way.  Cliffs and rocky edges made the water of Lake Repulse inaccessible.  I thought that the bridge over the Derwent River at Catagunya might allow me to drop down and brush my teeth, but again – no access. Impossible.

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Thankfully when I arrived at the Catagunya Power Station, a couple of work cars pulled up.  Inside I was able to refill my water containers and brush my teeth.  Thanks Hydro Tasmania.

I have written before about the challenges of walking and worrying about water. The irony is that the Derwent River is a mighty liquid machine, the water of which can be seen – but mostly it cannot be touched. If a person wasn’t able to keep walking, and didn’t have a Personal Locator Beacon, it would be easy to die of thirst in this remote part of Tasmania in the summer.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 7 of 13

Even in a section that appeared to be cleared to the River, the edges were not negotiable, effectively preventing my access to the water of Lake Repulse.

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In the location photographed above where the Lake is at the foot of the cleared land, after walking downhill eventually I had to give up my attempts at water access, and start a new uphill trek. I crossed a running creek, collected some brownish water in case my water supplies ran out, then continued the climb up another hill.

My activity sent a Rufus Kangaroo bouncing up and away. Obviously I had disturbed her midday sleep.

Some way up the hill I stopped to rest and sat looking down. A movement caught my eye.  A huge Rufus Kangaroo came into sight crossing the area where I had walked. I suspect he slept through my intrusion and was now looking for his mate.

Watch my video (takes over a minute) and look for the point where you first spot the kangaroo. When immobile he wasn’t always easy to see.  From time to time he is partly shielded by vegetation but you will see him bouncing first to the left, resting on a log with his ears twitching, then bouncing back to the right. When stationary, the bright light on his back helped blend him with the environment. Only his twitching ears gave him away when he rested his front legs/arms on the log.  Majestic. Comfortably natural in his environment.

I hope you enjoyed the sounds of the bush while you watched.

Lake Repulse Dam to Catagunya Dam – posting 1 of 13

This walk offered steep hills, challenging fences to navigate, endless webs across my path with an orange striped spider waiting to catch insects (or me), no access to fresh water, and worrying hazy smoke spreading from bushfires elsewhere in Tasmania.

The start of my walk began above the steep forested edges of Lake Repulse Dam (photo below courtesy of Chantale).

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Inland, past the Dam on the eastern/northern side, the landscape is a mix of forest and land cleared for cattle.  The photo below was taken by Michelle. I walked on the right hand side of the water. Note the thick forest along the water edge.  Note the steepness of those banks.

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The photo below, which looks back in a south easterly direction to Lake Repulse Dam, was taken later last year when the grass was green rather than dried and spiky as it was during summer when I walked.

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The cleared areas are deceptive. They look easy to walk. Despite holding only a grassy coverage, the ground of these cleared areas was irregular and uneven, and it was always inclined up or down – all of which made walking slow.

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My walk crossed cleared lands and passed through forests.  Wherever I went, either I was climbing up or down 200 metres of hillside. Even the lower undulating hills plucked at my leg muscles. For me “hills ain’t no fun”. Eventually I reached the large Catagunya complex of Power Station, Dam and Lake.  Photos below were taken by Michelle and by Chantale respectively.

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The complex that makes up Wayatinah – posting 4 of 7

North west end of Lake Catagunya.

A side track from the Wayatinah Power Station took us to Lake Catagunya where the sign shows evidence of being used for target practice.

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The Lake was still.

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Tiny white butterflies flitted at the water’s edge in the tall grasses.  Watch this short video.

An aerial shot by Michelle below indicates the size of the Lake Catagunya. Note the comparatively tiny power station in the centre of the photograph.

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Out on the Farm

On the last day of October 2015, I walked along the river edge (part of Meadowbank Lake) and mostly on the property of Curringa Farm.  I am most appreciative for Tim and Jane Parsons allowing me to walk there.

Their Farm is home to thousands of sheep.

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While I walked along approximately 4km of the river’s edge towards where the Clyde River entering the Lake, my friend Alex waited. As she sat in the car reading newspapers and drinking tea from her thermos, the wonderful view down to the ‘river’ as shown below was hers to savour.  In fact this waterway is one part of the very long Meadowbank Lake through which the Derwent River flows. One of Alex’s photos is shown below.

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While I walked, the Lake was busy with jet boats and water skiers. Watch this video.

As usual, the water and the river’s edge landscape enthralled me.

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When I walk alone I hear and see things which are not usually available if I walk with another. That is, the talking or the crashing through the bush disturbs birds and animals and they disappear.  During this walk, when a Rufus wallaby was suddenly standing before me a few metres away, we were both surprised. The bush was so quiet and I must have been making foot noises which sounded like normal bush rustlings so that s/he wasn’t immediately aware of my presence.  Eventually s/he hopped off to watch me from some bushes in the distance. I hadn’t moved a muscle since we first eyeballed each other.  But after its bounce away, my eyes swivelled to focus on a movement on the hill above. Down hopped a small wallaby and on the crest his/her mother appeared.  The following video shows them almost camouflaged in the environment. I feel sure you will not find the smaller baby wallaby until it moves again.

Watch this video.

Through the undergrowth, many well ‘walked’ tiny tracks were visible but on closer inspection they seemed to be wallaby highways.

20151031_114746.jpg Clever animals – they had been able to gradually force up fences in order to continue moving through paddocks. If you study the photograph below, on the lower right hand side you can see the wire mesh fence has been raised by rounding it up from the ground.

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Substantial sandstone/mudstone rocks intruded at the water’s edge and as cliffs formed hillsides and cave-type overhangs.  I wonder if the original inhabitants of the land rested in some of these places.

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The next selection of photos shows a couple of examples of the profusion of bush flowers seen during this walk: I cannot identify the first but the second is a tiny native orchid.

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Generally the bush was extremely dry, so much so that the lichen growing on rocks was shrivelled and seemingly dead.

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Parts of the Derwent Valley have received so little rain over winter that there is insufficient vegetation coverage for the cattle and sheep to eat in the coming months.  Apparently many farmers will be selling their sheep soon before the animals lose their good condition.  It is so challenging to work on the land.  It will be so challenging for city dwellers wanting to eat lamb in a few months’ time – a few gold ingots might be needed to make a purchase.

Nevertheless, it is a beautiful part of the world.

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The water issue

Unfortunately, the Derwent River’s water level was low and its unscramblable muddy banks prevented me filling up my water containers for most of my walk.  By this stage of the walk – mid morning on day 2 – my water supply was a big worry.

Contrary to my expectations of being able to collect water along the route, throughout Day 1 I found it impossible to get to the river water safely and be able to clamber back up slippery thorny banks.  Originally, I had left home with two plastic bladders each containing one litre.  When I reached the property Cluan on Day one, having quickly decided I could refill a bladder at the river’s edge I drank the remains of one bladder.  Regrettably, on closer inspection at the river edge I could not get down to the water.  This meant I needed to refill somewhere else along the way. But, as you know from earlier postings, I was never next to the river again on Day one, spent lots of time walking on the disused railway line, and eventually pitched camp next to the line.  That night I needed a reasonable amount of water to rehydrate and cook my evening meal.   From then until morning I cautiously sipped the remaining water.

First thing next morning on Day 2, instead of boiling water for a much looked for cup of tea or to make porridge, I ate a fruit bar for breakfast, and took a sip of water. Then, after packing up, I started walking.  Normally I drink a lot of water each day, and I know how important it is to keep hydrated  particularly when you are moving.  Water was everywhere but not a drop to drink – except for the remaining mouthfuls from my water bladder. I knew the water rationing had to continue. I was glad the air temperature was cool so that I wasn’t losing too much in perspiration.  However, I wasn’t to know that I would need to walk considerably further before I had a modicum of success in terms of water gathering.