From my aerial experience, I know the river looks like this all the way north-westwards of the Wayatinah Lagoon to Clark Dam at Butlers Gorge; a distance of not much less than 30kms in very steep country with numerous creeks cutting the landscape and flowing into the Derwent River. In the post introducing George Frankland’s walk, mention was made of the Nive River. The Nive flows into the northern end of Wayatinah Lagoon. Before the Wayatinah dam was built, the Nive flowed directly into the Derwent. The river edge between Wayatinah and Butlers Gorge is where Frankland and his expedition found two to four miles per day was the going rate because of the density of the bush. And then they gave up and walked inland away from the Derwent River.
A couple of Chantale’s aerial photos show similar rocky beds along this remote and wild part of the Derwent River.
Instead of driving back to the Lyell Highway straight away, Andrew and I took a detour left off Long Spur Road and arrived at an impasse with the Wayatinah Dam ahead. I had hoped we could drive across but this wasn’t to be.
Nevertheless the water level was low and it was easy to walk across and connect with the road from Wayatinah township a few kilometres away.
Decades ago thousands of tonnes of rock had been blasted to create a slipway beyond the Dam and the Lagoon. The scale of that effort was very impressive. Clearly huge volumes of water had passed over the Dam in the past; these hard volcanic rocks were somewhat smooth.
Wayatinah Lagoon backed up to the dam wall.
Looking across the Lagoon gave me an immense sense of calm.
Examples of the flowering vegetation:
Later we drove through the Wayatinah township. Michelle’s aerial photo shows the town on a cleared hill with some of the Wayatinah Lagoon visible.
After passing through the town, we proceeded down to the dam wall and were met with locked gates.
A sense of the scale of the town in relation to the Lagoon in relation to the Dam can be seen in my aerial photograph.
As an introduction to the widely spread features of Wayatinah, the Derwent River runs in a south easterly direction past many acres of State Forest before flowing into the expansive Wayatinah Lagoon, a waterstore located five or so kilometres north of the Wayatinah Power Station. The Lagoon’s water is piped to the Station first underground and then overground in massive white pipes.
Excess water from the Lagoon seeps, dribbles or spills back into the Derwent River at the Wayatinah Dam, which isn’t far from the Wayatinah township. Then the low water level of the river trickles over a rocky base until it catches the flow of the Florentine River before continuing on to become part of Lake Catagunya. The western most reaches of the Lake have already formed before the river reaches the Wayatinah Power Station.
I have compiled a list of those locations where I believe, with a vehicle, it will be possible to ‘touch’ the Derwent River occasionally along its length between Gretna and Lake St Clair. Please let me know if any section listed below takes your fancy and if you would be interested to try it out.
Almost all sections include driving on bitumen highway, gravel roads and poor tracks. Some of these may be forestry roads. If you wish to volunteer to take me to one of these sections (let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org), please feel comfortable that your car can handle the different conditions. Of course, common sense will prevail and we will never push on if a road is too rough for your vehicle and your peace of mind.
If you are happy to help me reach my goal, albeit differently than originally expected, I would like to fill up your tank with petrol as some compensation. You know my ‘walking the Derwent’ is a non-commercial project, but since I do not own a car nor drive, I need transport – and therefore, I am happy to cover the cost.
On eastern shore – From New Norfolk drive along the Lyell Highway and then, not far past Gretna’s Sports ground, take a left turn into Clarendon Road and drive to farmstead buildings about 250 metres from the river on a hill. Perhaps 140km return trip.
On western shore – From New Norfolk drive along Glenora Road, and turn left at Bushy Park then right onto Meadowbank Road over the Tyenna River then next to Derwent, then on over Meadowbank Creek to a hill top with buildings. It may be possible to continue quite a way on this road. Minimum 130 and maybe up to 160kms return trip
On eastern shore – From New Norfolk drive along the Lyell Highway and turn left off the Highway onto Meadowbank Dam Road. Continue to dam and southern end of Meadowbank Lake. At least 170 kms for round trip.
On western shore – Travel from New Norfolk and turn left into Gordon River Road at Bushy Park, then turn right off Gordon River Rd into Ellendale Rd and then right onto Rockmount Road before you reach the township of Ellendale. There seem to be many dirt forestry tracks to Meadowbank Lake. At least 170kms return trip and maybe 200kms return or more depending on roads.
On western shore – Travel from New Norfolk and turn left into Gordon River Road at Bushy Park, then turn right off Gordon River Rd into Ellendale Rd and drive on through the township of Ellendale until you reach Dawson Rd / Dunrobin bridge over Meadowbank Lake. Turn left before bridge and it seems we can drive 2kms further up along the Lake edge. Return to Ellendale Road, cross bridge and connect with the Lyell Highway. At least 170kms return trip and maybe 200kms return or more depending on roads.
On eastern shore – From New Norfolk drive up Lyell Highway and continue past the left turn off to Dunrobin bridge and afterwards and to the left there are a number of dirt tracks seemingly without gates. After a while these tracks/roads only extend to the Ouse River and not the Derwent River so map consultation is crucial. At least 180kms return and maybe over 200kms return depending on how many side roads/tracks can be driven along.
On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway past Ouse then turn left at Lake Repulse Road. Continue to intersection with Cluny Lagoon Road and turn left and go to Cluny Dam. Return to intersection and continue on Lake Repulse Road to the Repulse Dam. Can cross a bridge and continue back south around Cluny Lagoon to a ‘settlement’ named Cluny. Perhaps could access this road from the Ellendale Rd on the western shore? By driving north from Repulse Dam along Dawson Road/then renamed Thunderbolt Road it seems we can take right hand detours to Lake Repulse. Over 200kms maybe 250kms or more minimum round trip.
On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway past Ouse, over the Dee River until the sign appears for a left turn at Catagunya Road. Drive down to Catagunya Dam. 200kms minimum return trip
On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway past Ouse, over the Dee River, past Black Bobs and turn left at Long Spur Road. This runs around Wayatinah Lagoon. Go past the intersection to Wayatinah Dam, turn left and travel to Wayatinah Power Station on Lake Catagunya. Return to intersection and turn left and travel to Wayatinah Dam. Cross bridge and continue on to Wayatinah township. Access dirt tracks in the vicinity of all. Drive south from the Wayatinah Dam on the western shore along the Florentine Road but don’t bother crossing the Florentine River because the road goes inland away from the river. Minimum of 230kms but most likely at least 300kms round trip.
On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway and when you reach a canal passing under the road, and where the road turns right to go to Tarraleah, go straight ahead on Butlers Gorge Road. Note there are limited roads off and around going closer to the river near that intersection. Continue along Butlers Gorge Road for 10-15 kms heading for Lake King William. Reach Clark Dam and Power Station. Continue onto Switchback Track along side of Lake King William. This track stops and you have to return the same way – swamp separates you from the track north about 500 metres away. This would be a big day and I suggest take overnight accommodation at Tarraleah before setting out. PERHAPS it is possible to walk across the swamp and then walk about 7 kms to Derwent Bridge. Unknown over 300 kms return trip.
On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway to Derwent Bridge and continue past to left hand turn off on the western side of Lake King William and drive the track to the lake. 360 kms return trip minimum.
On eastern shore – Drive up Lyell Highway to Derwent Bridge. Walk from the bridge over the Derwent River near the township of Derwent Bridge to St Clair Dam at the bottom of Lake St Clair Lagoon where the Derwent River starts. Walk to Pump House Point and St Clair Weir at the southern end of the Derwent Basin. 350kms return trip minimum.