Tasmanian Beaches: Reflection 2: On Rivulets and Reciprocity

The Long Bond


Since completing my walk along the rivulet I’ve struck up a different kind of relationship with it. At night, I might see the moon or hear the owl – or, like last night – go out to see the aurora – but I‘m also conscious of the rivulet flowing down it’s almost totally urban catchment and I can visualise its whole sinuous extent.

In spare moments I’ve been seeking it out again – in Greenlands Avenue, down the Jackson’s Bend Path and on into Turnip Fields. Once I noticed a soft, earthy hole on the high side of the O’Grady’s Track into which (when its running) it disappears to travel under the path.

One very still day on that track, I stopped and looked up. The summit road wasn’t far away. Even with my poor spatial skills I could not get lost. And so I left the path and bushbashed up, through deep leafy deposits and over rotten, mossy tree trunks, perfect places for leaches to lay their eggs, dragging myself up onto the road as car tyres whooshed past quite close to my nose.

And I can say with authority that when you emerge on the summit road it is right there on the other side keeping company momentarily with the Radford Track. A cloth nappy lay in the stormwater drain that carries it beneath the road, a disposable coffee mug some distance off but otherwise, for a moment, the road was quiet and the forest fragrant.

I reflected that in the short time I’ve properly known it, the rivulet has taught me, profoundly, that small, local adventures ground you in place.  The day was a still one but just briefly, the breeze came sweeping through the canopy and elevated the moment into a happy sense of contentment.
My tiny quests had solved a mystery. One report I read said that the rivulet rose no higher than Huon Road. Another said it begins above O’Gradys at The Springs. I dispute both. Where there is a summit there is a source. You could say that it begins as that raindrop hanging from the tip of that rock on the peak. I will contend it rises in the steam from my coffee, the warmth of your breath.

I felt I owed reciprocation for the gifts I felt it had bestowed on me – perhaps go and hitch those underpants off that rock or gather up the garbage to make life that bit easier for those most tolerant of native fauna who still, astonishingly, manage to inhabit some of the rivulet, for the duck and her ducklings and for the grey heron I saw one day on its banks.

But then I found The Friends of the Sandy Bay Rivulet and took myself off to meet them. I grabbed a rubbish bag and while some people planted I yanked out sticky weed and picked up litter. Afterwards, over a cup of coffee I discovered one person had a deep knowledge of local history including beaches. Two others were yachties and so we sat in bands of sunshine and drizzle and talked about history, the rivulet, beaches and sailing and I would not have missed that morning for the world.

I’m not done with the Rivulet yet but that’s secret business between the rivulet and me.  The next posting really will be on beaches.


About two weeks after writing this Susan Murphy came to Hobart to talk about her new book, Minding the Earth, Mending the World.  What she had to say about our disconnection from the earth really resonated with me.  I went up afterwards to have a chat.  In my copy of her book she wrote ‘luckily we can’t walk the same rivulet twice.’

Back at home I opened her book and began to read, and this is what I read on pg 1.

Perhaps the origin of any book, like the source of a river, is finally impossible to separate from all that is and will be.  For which of a dozen or more feeder springs do you choose; or earlier that that, which moss bank dripping over a rock ledge, which raindrop that fell in a catchment; and how to put a date to a raindrop which is really as old as the earth, and in fact even older, as old as the elements formed in the earliest supernovae explosions?  Or back to the start of time itself, arriving together with matter and energy some trillionth of a second after whatever unimaginable occurrence marked the birth of the ongoing revelation that we call the universe?’

Cleaning up with the Friends of the SBR

After we’d finished our work today a duck and her ducklings manoeuvred up the rivulet.  This is the habitat we’ve left for other species to struggle with. (Rushes courtesy of the Friends of the SBR.  If you live in the catchment (and even if you don’t) please consider helping out.)



The literature is full of detail I’d have loved to add to these posts.  See The Book Shelf for further information.

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