Tag Archives: Wayatinah Lagoon

Between Wayatinah and Catagunya Power Stations- posting 1 of 6

Anticipating a comparatively easy and short day of walking, my proxy Andrew left Hobart at 7 am and drove westwards and inland along the Lyell Highway, until reaching Catagunya Road where he parked his vehicle at the locked gate.

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A friend drove him further along the highway, turned left just before the Liapootah Power Station and proceeded along the gravel surface of Long Spur Road towards the Wayatinah Power Station.

He arrived at the western side of the Station but needed to be on the eastern side to start this sector of the walk. Because it was not possible to cross over the Power Station outlet, and access through the Power Station is not permitted, Hydro tracks were followed to the most accessible part further away from the Lake Catagunya/Derwent River. Private vehicle access to the penstocks and beyond was prevented by a locked gate on the approach to the top of the penstocks, so the walk started there around 10 am. While it would have been possible to scramble beneath the penstocks, a detour to where the penstock began high up on the hill seemed like a good idea.

Wayatinah’s penstocks consist of two massive parallel pipes that carry water from the tunnel bored through from Wayatinah Lagoon. The pipes are approximately 1.2 km long and are made entirely of timber – coopered like gigantic continuous barrels. To keep it all together they are tightly bound with steel straps which keep the joints snug, save for the occasional trivial leak. Interestingly, inserted into the walls of the pipes every 50 metres of so, is a fire hose outlet (obviously the timber pipelines are not only protected from the inside!).  DSC01655e.jpg

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The walk began by heading around the top of the penstocks where they emerge from the tunnel.

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There is an impressive view down the length of the penstocks to where they disappear around a distant bend for the final approach to the Wayatinah Power Station.

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On the far side of the penstocks a good track leads down to the huge surge tank near the entrance to the power station. The glorious panoramic photo below distorts the view so I have also included a Google Earth aerial shot so you can understand the situation.

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Past the surge tank but before the Power Station, a power line easement heads east, then south east, over a series of ridges and gullies to Catagunya Power Station. The forest next to the track leading to the easement was open with healthy eucalypts, dogwoods and some wattle trees sprinkled across the landscape. The day’s walk was a combination of traversing hills and gullies, and the next photo gives an appreciation of one of the more gentle hills.

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Because of the steep and scrubby terrain, it was not viable to access or follow against the edge of Catagunya Lake (Derwent River) at water level. Instead, following the power line ‘clearing’ was the smart alternative.

Once serious walking along the transmission line ‘clearing’ began, it was obvious that sections had not been slashed in a long while. The going was irregular with patches of scrubby low level vegetation and fallen logs to negotiate so that, occasionally, Andrew walked off to one side for a clearer route. The next photo shows an example of a less straightforward area along the easement under the power lines, and helps to explain why deviating from this line made sense during the walk.

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Derwent River water passes via the township of Tarraleah

 

Earlier this year the entire town of Tarraleah was on the market for sale.  Refer article 1, article 2 , and article 3.

If you were to follow Derwent River water by walking from the western end of Lake Catagunya at the Wayatinah Power Station inland past the Wayatinah Lagoon to the Liapootah Power Station then follow the Nive River to the bridge next to the Tarraleah Power Station (with the Tungatinah Power Station on the other side of the bridge), you could look up the hill to see massive penstock pipes descending the hill from the township of Tarraleah above.

The water falling down these pipes is Derwent River water which has travelled via Tarraleah Canal 1 and Tarraleah Canal 2 after processing through Butlers Gorge Power Station at the foot of Clark Dam that holds back the waters of Lake King William.

I chose not to walk the route via the penstocks and Tarraleah township when walking from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River,  rather to follow the original river bed albeit a scatter of stones and limited water during the summer, between Wayatinah and Butlers Gorge Power Station.

However, knowing that Derwent River water flowed along the Canals and through the massive pipes, I did visit the township of Tarraleah during the period when it was advertised for sale. I was curious to see what the township of Tarraleah looked like (it had been many years since I last visited). Despite being centred within lush dense rainforest, thankfully no rain fell at Tarraleah and the sky was blue and the day sunny when I visited. I approached the town from the highway and followed the slightly snaking pipes.

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At the point where the pipes arrive at the top of the hill and are about to drop down the hill, I browsed public information boards and plaques.

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The views from the township were dramatic. I am forever in awe at the engineering achievements of the past.

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These days Tarraleah is a place that acknowledges its social history from the early days of Hydro Tasmania. I was amazed to see the row of freshly renovated houses each with their own array of pastel coloured paint finishes. Perfect location for a science fiction movie.  I felt there was something strange about its lollipop colours and perfection.

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Afterwards I travelled out of Tarraleah and down to the bridge over the Nive River. The Tarraleah Power Station was partly hidden in shadow from the afternoon sun. My eyes followed the pipes up the hill knowing the township was there on top.

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The Nive River accepts the Derwent River water after processing for electricity generation through the Tarraleah Power Station.  The water passes through a series of further management processes, and ultimately empties into Lake Catagunya and then continues its long journey towards the sea.

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I have heard rumours the Tarraleah township sold but I cannot find records supporting this.  I haven’t one idea how a buyer could get a return on an investment of $11 million at Tarraleah, so I will be very interested to hear what will happen to this piece of Tasmania’s history.

Fish Farms

 

There are two Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon fish farms adjacent to different sections of the Derwent River; one near Wayatinah Lagoon and the other downstream from Meadowbank Dam.  The privately owned company Salmon Enterprises of Tasmania (SALTAS), which are Australia’s largest producer of Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon smolt, operates the hatchery near Wayatinah.  The second photo below was taken by Michelle and the rest by me.

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The family owned and operated Huon Aquaculture operates the farm at Meadowbank. More can be read here.

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Michelle’s photo presents an aerial view of the Meadowbank area.

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The Derwent River flows over a rocky bed

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As I walked closer to Wayatinah, two ‘runways’ for the water became clear.

One extended from the Wayatinah Lagoon Dam wall and this was dry. I was glad that last year I had walked around the Lagoon Dam wall and understood how the wide spill-over channel was configured, otherwise seeing the massive dry rocky bed below would not have made sense.

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Then, at a point, I could see the Wayatinah Lagoon in the middle distance.

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The other ‘runway’ came from I knew not where and this was the strand which had water flowing along it. To the left of the dry rocky bed the River ran – and I can see it in the photos below.

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By the time I reached the spot where I took the preceding photograph, it was clear that another dam wall was raised at right angles to the one shown in front of the Lagoon earlier in this post.  I imagined that water was being released from the Lagoon at this wall to create the flow.

Further walking released more of that dam wall to view.

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20160115_124954.jpgAnd down below, the Derwent River chuckled along.

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The complex that makes up Wayatinah – posting 7 of 7

The Derwent River at Wayatinah

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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.

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20151028_115442.jpg  A couple of Chantale’s aerial photos show similar rocky beds along this remote and wild part of the Derwent River.

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The complex that makes up Wayatinah – posting 6 of 7

Wayatinah Dam

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.

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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.

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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.

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Wayatinah Lagoon backed up to the dam wall.

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Looking across the Lagoon gave me an immense sense of calm.

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Examples of the flowering vegetation:

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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.

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After passing through the town, we proceeded down to the dam wall and were met with locked gates.

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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.

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The complex that makes up Wayatinah – posting 3 of 7

Wayatinah Power Station

On Thursday 29 October 2015, Andrew drove me off the Lyell Highway and down Long Spur Road to Wayatinah Power Station. An underground pipeline from Wayatinah Lagoon fills penstocks which fall down steep hills to the Power Station.  The water exiting the Station empties into Lake Catagunya, through which the Derwent River flows.

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Watch the video.

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