Derwent River: Rivulets: Meeting Wayne

Had I been more attuned to the landscape, I might have immediately realized that this city was criss-crossed with rivulets but it was only after leafing through a report about Wayne Rivulet back in 2003 that I began to observe the landscape more carefully (or so I thought) and recognised that if we valued natural landscapes more highly Hobart could have been an even more beautiful city.

One rainy Saturday that year, the report in my hand, three of us went in search of Wayne. We drove through Sandy Bay paying attention to the dips and hollows where rivulets once might have flowed and we went to Long Beach to seek Wayne’s mouth because I’d read that according to Wooraddy – or so George Robinson said in his journal – there used to be a large Aboriginal village there. And if this was true then a rivulet would be a most necessary resource. I discussed the possibility of a  village with an archaeologist I knew and he wasn’t too sure he trusted Robinson on this issue and let’s face it, a language barrier can lead to a lot of misinformation.  Elsewhere in the literature it’s considered to have been a camping site.

In 2003 the beach was disappearing so fast that efforts were being made to shore it up. We stood on this little remnant of beach and figured out that the rivulet emerged where new works were happening at the southern end, and then I noticed that we’d actually parked right above the stormwater drain, which is now the mouth of Wayne Creek.

After a little exploring around the area we found the rivulet again higher up the slope at Fahan School. A sign testified to their care of the rivulet and how they used it for educative purposes but it looked crestfallen that day and damaged by diversion. It flowed over watercress and then into a more established looking bed below the willow trees and under a little wooden bridge. Its bed grew deeper and cut around the edge of a small shed, ran under the road, emerged again just briefly then disappeared completely until it reached the end of the pipe at Long Beach.

A scientist friend who knew about Wayne said it was corroding the diesel tank under the BP petrol station (now United) and so that spot is on the contaminated sites register. I asked a Fahan student if she knew where Wayne Rivulet was and she said she’d never heard of it.  When I told here where she could find it, she said, ‘we just call it ‘the creek’ but after our conversation she went looking and told me about the signs in the playground. ‘So I probably did know,’ she reasoned.

We climbed up behind the school and tried to track Wayne to its source higher up Mount Nelson. We figured it had to be near a large purple house on the upper slopes but in fact, although two tributaries are said to flow into Wayne, we had no luck finding any trace of any rivulet above Churchill Avenue. There were new houses encroaching into the bush up there and they impeded our search.

It’s now 2015 and Wayne Rivulet remains largely unknown to Hobartians, but that’s also true of the other disregarded rivulets, most being unassuming, sporadic and unknown. Today I went back to take a peek at Wayne and I was disappointed to see that it looked as crestfallen as ever.

Wayne Rivulet 1
Wayne Rivulet 2015

Not that long ago a friend and I did a walk from the mouth of Lambert Rivulet at the Derwent Sailing Squadron, up the shady gulley to the top of Mount Nelson and down through the Truganini Reserve to Cartwright Creek in Taroona. Lambert enjoys a lot of daylight and makes its way through a densely foliaged linear reserve. It’s the lucky one, along with a tiny handful of others.

Hobart Rivulet
A natural stretch along the Hobart Rivulet: how our creeks should look

Chatting as we walked, we wandered across the catchments of the other Sandy Bay Rivulets that these days are sealed up tight until they get to the river, but there was so little evidence of their presence that lost in conversation and good company I did not pay attention to the landscape and forgot to pay my regards to those neglected rivulets.

photo 2
Wayne Rivulet’s concrete bed further down stream

Meet Me in Tokyo

When someone you love says ‘Meet me in Tokyo,’ the temptation is just too great. I put my blog aside, abandoned social media and headed out into the world on a small adventure that involved food safaris, onsin challenges and meditative pilgrimages to shrines, both Shinto and Buddhist.  In Kyoto the leaves were turning.

Sky tree golden flame river.png
Sky Tree, the Asahi Flame and Sumida River

We took up residence for a while in Asakusa, an old part of Tokyo, where the Sky Tree towers over an already tall city and the Asahi flame, such as it is, lies heavily on its side beneath it. We were close to shrines, big and small, that honour the Bodhisattva Kannon who is intimately linked to the Sumida River.  The story goes that back in 628 AD when the area was a delta, three fishermen hauled a statue of this particular Bodhisattva out of the river.  The first shrine was made of straw.  Now there’s a complex of wonderful shrines, including Tokyo’s biggest and most visited.


The gift of the Sumida River hasn’t saved it from all sorts of atrocities.  It may know daylight but it has concrete hips. There’s minimal habitat for river species. The Derwent in comparison is a wild eyed hippie, a moody and creative artist with a flare for change.

I didn’t notice anyone fishing in the Sumida and barely a bird apart from a lone cormorant and a tiny flock of seagulls that flew into sight beneath a bridge. In fact, with a bridge literally every kilometre along its length there’s not much river traffic either because the bridges are so low.

Derwent from the Mountain (1).png

Flying back into Hobart is a beautiful experience – that first riveting sighting of the mountain and that most magnificent of rivers, always so spectacularly stunning from the air, is riveting.

Once my feet were on the mountain and my eyes on the river, I felt reconnected to home, ready to curl my hand around the tiller, jump on my bike, lug my kayak down to the water or take another stroll along the coastline somewhere.

Derwent River: Long Beach (aka Sandy Bay Beach)

From Summer Camp to Solstice Swim

Long Beach: the view from the south
Long Beach: the view from the south

I was puzzled why anyone bothered with this popular beach when I first visited it one hot summer’s day during my first year in Hobart.  There were a lot of uncertain people sitting in their bathers on the sea wall but swimming wasn’t an attractive proposition because the water came all the way up to the steps and slapped against the concrete in a discontented manner.  I sympathise with the river now.  It was trying to build a beach and this seawall, built without understanding, impeded it.

Yet this has always been a popular beach, even when, in the 1980s, it was barely there at all.  An artificial dune was cultivated in the corner bound unnaturally with marram grass. This once magnificent beach had become a desultory shadow of its previous self and I think that those who still came here were in love with a memory.  (It’s still a lovely spot when the sun is shining on it but it was overcast yesterday when I returned to take some more photos, earlier ones being lost in the uncatalogued innards of iPhoto.)

Long Beach from northern end

Before the convict ships arrived to set up camp Long Beach was called Kreewer and the Mouheenener had a summer camp in this sheltered spot.  In those days the beach was wide and backed by small dunes.  Picture a bark kayak, exquisitely woven dilly bags full of the jewels of the sea, children playing on the sand.  The land was flat and shaded behind the beach, a great spot for huts as well as some easy hunting, and there was a handy stream.

Although the rivulets that flow sporadically down the slopes of Mount Nelson are not well known, Wayne Rivulet has a slightly higher profile because it still enjoys daylight along some of its course, beautifying the grounds of Fahan School before entering the river at Long Beach / Little Sandy Bay.  It brings with it eroded dolerite from the heights, creating a delta of clay  over which the once dense sand of the beach now sits as a thin sheen.

Having already succumbed to epidemics, the distress and fear that took hold at Kreewer is outside the comprehension of anyone who hasn’t faced the end of their world and all  they hold sacred.  The forests they tended, the trees that were their totems, were knocked down to make way for an alien landscape of farmland, divided up between fences that ran all the way down into the river.   The Mouheenener, in a state of deep existential crisis, retreated and the beach became a popular destination for Hobartians in their strange clothing, who no doubt moved stiffly in the landscape not seeing the visual detail, not taking direction from the fragrance of the bush or hearing in the calls of birds the rhythm and events of the day.   Shooting expeditions from town, well recorded by the Rev Robert Knopwood, had rendered the emu extinct and chased the frightened animals that still survived further away from European settlements.  At that point the odd little handfish that moves about on its fins and inhabits the lower bays of the Derwent, still enjoyed an easy life in this beautiful bay.

The beach was so accommodatingly wide and so beautiful (see links to early photos below), that it served as a place to promenade, socialise and relax, and to enjoy the regatta that finally found a home here, or the start of a horse race.  Enjoyment was yet again marred by disputes over right of way to the beach that reached a climax around 1910.  There were petitions.  There were meetings.  The government was persuaded, buying up  land to create the park, and a long jetty was built on the beach so that people could arrive by boat as the Tramway Company wouldn’t extend the line along Sandy Bay Road.

Francis Cotton, in 1880, noticed that the sea level was rising on Long Beach.  He asserted it was the building works happening at Sullivans Cove and Norfolk Island settlers, including Maning and Fisher, considered that the sea had risen by about 50 feet in less than three decades.

There’s a more recent, curved seawall now, over which, in great storms, the sea breaks and which causes a significant wave to reflect back off it during high tides but there is a bit more beach than there used to be in the days of the old sea wall.  This area is often a gourmet adventure because there are cafes, making it, in summer, a great place for an evening pizza or a day time coffee, or a place to come on a Friday evening to enjoy the summer market.  From here you can walk north around Sandy Bay Point or south around Blinking Billy Point, the two sentinels of Little Sandy Bay and while the water in the bay is usually calm (unless the sea breeze is filling in from the south east), out beyond these two points gales frequently whip up raging white caps.

Sundown Park behind the beach was  described in the 1800s as ‘the Hyde Park of Hobart’ and it’s occasionally vivid with small flashes of colour when eastern rosellas and swift parrots  swoop between trees.  There’s a  crocquet club and a petanque piste, a playground and the playing fields.  There’s a platform just offshore that swimmers can lay claim to and that is alternatively occupied by cormorants drying their wings. Kayakers launch from here and seek refuge as well when conditions on the river turn wild.


In the heart of winter, when snow lay deep on the mountain’s summit and gardens were white with frost, the most adventurous Hobartians rose from their beds in the black pre-dawn and found their way down to Long Beach for the Dark Mofo Festival Solstice Swim.  They took off all their clothes and plunged en masse into the freezing water of the Derwent just on sunrise.

I’m sure it took their breath away.

When I arrived at the beach a good two hours after this, apart from footprints in the sand, there were no clues that this midwinter event had taken place.

I looked.  I contemplated.  I imagined the Mouheenener regarding this activity  from the ghostly forest and the sharp gasp of the Rev Knopwood.  Then I went home to a hot coffee and a warm bowl of porridge.  The frost still lingered but my kitchen was snug with the wood fire roaring.

Other people’s photographs:

Large wave striking the seawall (Sept 2009) Long Beach | Large wave, Long Beach


The closest to its natural state (post 1870)

The esplanade taking shape

Regatta at Long Beach & another (some time after 1921)

Showing the old sea wall

Before the sea wall  |  Taken from Sandy Bay Road

Jetty and sea wall, Long Beach

Sculpture, Long Beach
Sculpture, Long Beach
Blue gum tree - favourite hang out of the swift parrots
Blue gum tree – favourite hang out of the swift parrots
Beneath the blue gum tree
Beneath the blue gum tree

Further information:

Goc, N. 1997. Sandy Bay: a social history. Gentrx Publishing, Hobart

Leaman, D. 1999. Walk into history in Southern Tasmania.  Lehman Geophysics, Hobart

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.

Walking the Sandy Bay Rivulet From Source to Estuary Part 4

Roughed up in the ‘burbs.

Track to Romilly Road
Track to Romilly Road

South Hobart, Dynnyrne, Sandy Bay – the suburban route began with a nondescript path outside the park gates that ran downhill to the rivulet, returning in a rush to its natural bed. I explored a bit, then crossed it to reach the forest track above it through to Romilly Road.

So here’s the sobering truth.  The houses begin and the rivulet gets roughed up.  A sign of worse to come, it travels between banks entangled with blackberries and forgot me nots, lawns and paddock.  Some gardens make it their focus, others shun it.  Regardless, it sounded almost cheerful flowing thin and narrow at this interface between forest and habitation. I had a good view of the state of affairs; this path follows a higher contour just below Stony Steps, another of Hobart’s secret places.   There were cliffs; I reflected on how this rivulet, eons ago, before its landscaping capacity had been thwarted by us newbies, had carved an impressively deep valley.

I arrived at Romilly Street.  After my wanderings the concrete seemed cold, shadowed and unforgiving.  I, myself, mentally immersed in the rivulet, felt out of place as I paused to take some photos from the bridge.  I could see no way of getting to the bottom.  It was the domain of the ducks.

You barely catch a glimpse of the rivulet on the last stretch of Waterworks Road and what you see is hardly edifying. By the time it gets to Linton Avenue it looks scruffy and unkempt – and then it’s gone!  it simply disappears beneath the road.

With a sense of anticipation, I  took the little path I’d discovered at Linton Avenue on a previous sortie, full of anticipation that I would burst through into the park but my conjecture was wrong.  It led me through to an enclave of flats. Back on Linton, I peered through a wild tangle of tall, dense brambles and weeds, a sign of neglect that indicated a rivulet could well be travelling underneath.   There was nothing to see, nowhere to go and so at the Foodstore on King I turned into Overall Street, braving a soapy smelling periwinkle clad bank, down to the rivulet, where I stood over it taking photos of where it emerges from its tunnel and its route down through the park.  Then I chose to walk the road rather than that sodden weed infested bank and encountered it at Parliament Street where it travels beside the oval. I was retracing my steps from a brief exploration of this area the previous week.

That morning frost had crunched under my shoes as I walked upstream along the rivulet flowing  between gardens and park.  I’d tiptoed past a tiny tent in a hidden glade (someone sleeping rough)  and had expected to emerge on Linton Avenue but had arrived, instead, on the freeway, quickly ducking back down lest I be noticed by the morning traffic.

Again I crossed the road.  There was the place where I’d stopped to chat with a man who directed my attention to a house, once a mill, on the banks of the rivulet, and there again, down a steep descent, was the end of  Fitzroy Place and the woebegone rivulet now in a stormwater drain heading beneath Regent Street.  I sauntered down Queen Street and detoured into Lincoln Street to meet it again where the story was one of ducks and daks – ducks fossicking on the bank and old underpants caught on a rock.

I walked down Jersey Street and found the rivulet carrying a plastic bag.  I was there to greet it at Dr Syntax, where it had accumulated plastic cartons and I was there as it entered another stormwater drain (yep, we really esteem this rivulet) and was there to witness it running down its gutter behind the back gardens on Osborne Road.  Sombered, I headed down Quayle Street.

Down near the beach the rivulet gets some recognition but litter marrs the scene – spray cans, McDonalds takeaway products, trapped by a buffer – Mary Ann Bay Beach is grateful. What a terribly filthy, crass minded species we are, I was thinking, and then a welcoming tide came rolling in, and the rivulet, once fragrant, now toxic, depleted itself into the Derwent.  My dogs rushed to greet me and the geologist waited.  Short Beach was lit with slow afternoon activity and the light was mellow.  Feeling like a traveller arriving in another land, I was both buoyed by the loveliness of the walk to Romilly, the activity on the Esplanade and sobered by how quickly the rivulet had been ravaged.

We found a bench, we spread a cloth, we poured puerh tea, and sitting side by side eating chocolate and imbibing this smooth antique tea, I told the geologist of the places I’d been and the things that I’d seen.

SBR at top of Wwks Rd
Meeting forget-me-nots, top of Waterworks Rd


Sandy Bay Rivulet running past Pillinger Road
Sandy Bay Rivulet running past Pillinger Road
Sandy Bay Rivulet from Dr Syntax
Sandy Bay Rivulet from Dr Syntax
Sandy Bay Rivulet mouth, Short Beach Sandy Bay
Sandy Bay Rivulet mouth, Short Beach Sandy Bay
Tea time after the rivulet walk
Tea time after the rivulet walk

Walking the Sandy Bay Rivulet from Source to Estuary Part 3

Part 3:  Hall’s Saddle to Waterworks: A rivulet’s point of view

Ridgeway 1 The third stage begins:  Hall’s Saddle

I was strolling a high contour,  the tiny cluster of houses at Finger Post on the far side of the valley.  Far below, the rivulet flowed beneath the forest canopy in the Turnip Fields valley and as I walked I tried to hold its presence in my mind.    Turnip Fields Turnip Fields

The houses on Huon Road hove into sight and the  Derwent River in the distance.  Gracious eucalypts beside the path had bark I had to stop and admire, she-oaks, orange banksia in blossom, and closer to my feet the tiny red flare of epacris impressa.  I was relishing my solitude, enjoying the rhythm of my stride but making slow progress – there were a lot of little water courses I kept stopping to examine.  Alone with my thoughts I faced the same question with the rivulet that I’d had when walking above Mitchells Beach on the South Arm Peninsula:  how close must you physically be to something to be actually walking  it?  And in what way can you be said to be walking something when you don’t know it’s there?  (I was thinking particularly of rivulets in the city and how, walking down a road we are most of us unaware that a rivulet might be flowing beneath us, imprisoned in a drain.)

Ridgeway 3 Near McDermotts Saddle

I reached the abandoned paddocks of McDermotts Saddle, the lumpy land that bears old traces of a building.  Superb blue wrens flitted ahead of me and a raven called lazily.  A little while later I got a view of dark water down at Waterworks. I came to the steps and descended, then lingered.  Gentle Annie Falls and a series of cliffs demanded exploration – their’s is a long quiet dreaming up here in the eucalypt forest.   Contemplation over, I followed the Circuit track, paused again at a poignant memorial seat to young life cut short, then finally arrived down at the rivulet at last, just where it emerged from the forest running small and shallow, slightly cloudy, over its dark forest bed, a stride wide, meandering around boulders.  I walked beside it companionably, stopping to capture its voice at a cliff and again where it runs over pebbles.

Rivulet The rivulet enters Waterworks

Shortly after this I had a choice of path but the rivulet had none. The rivulet is tricked as soon as it enters Waterworks,  apparently for the misdemeanour of flooding (or landscape building, depending on your perspective) in earlier days.   It is  sneakily led into a moat that runs around the reservoir to the right while the usurper, the reservoir, inhabits the bed the rivulet made like a gigantic cuckoo’s egg.

Reservoir Cuckoo’s egg: The Reservoir

I could have walked beside it, commiserating, but having been that way so many times before (the bitumen, the picnic tables), I went left and walked a forest trail.  As usual the gulls were hanging out on the water and when I crossed over between the upper and lower reservoirs  there was a raven grubbing for food, some tassie hens, ducks and plovers. Munching on an apple, I rejoined the disheartened rivulet as it moved unwillingly down its moat, squeezing itself into the very centre as though it didn’t really belong there.  I passed a bbq in action and a couple arm in arm enjoying the view.   Two ducks, flying low, winged pass me on their way up to the top reservoir and as I approached the gate I spotted the first exotic plants: an escaped agapanthus.  It was a harbinger of things to come.

MoatDisplaced rivulet: the ecosystem blanks out. No life to foster, no landscape to build

Walking the Sandy Bay Rivulet from Source to Estuary Part 2

Part Two:  So You Think You Know Who I Am?

A milky sky, a pensive day. The geologist, still concerned that I would leave the path to seek the rivulet, was not impressed that I was mapless, but I was in familiar terrain and wanted to intuitively feel my way towards the rivulet, maintaining all the while an awareness of the catchment.  There were two rivulets to chose from, if my reading of the landscape was correct.  The one I feel a certain attachment to, that heads down to Turnip Fields via Jacksons Bend and the one that Radfords and Fern Glade, two of my favourite tracks, keep company with.  I chose the latter.

From The Springs I plunged down into the forest along Radford’s Track, conscious of the rivulet somewhere at the bottom of the slope to my right, and the sound I could hear, while possibly the rivulet, was really more likely to be the breeze soughing through the canopy.  It was damp, the vegetation flourishing and aromatic with minty overtones.  Occasionally there was birdsong.

From the Springs to the River: Radfords Track
From the Springs to the River: Radfords Track

I turned on to Reid’s track but ignored the turn off to Silver Falls because that’s in the Browns River catchment.  I figured I was walking along a spur dividing the two catchments from each other and so I stuck with my choice, deciding to walk the full extent of Radfords the next weekend, more closely shadowing the rivulet. (And we did, slipping and sliding, initially, in the newly fallen snow at The Springs). Further down, where the trails diverge near the concrete reservoir covered in graffiti (despoiling the forest with a reminder of urban grit) I turned down the bitumen track the council workers use, enjoying the light south easterly and the quiet calls of small birds as I went from valley edge towards the rivulet itself.

From the Springs to the River: Reids Track
From the Springs to the River: Reids Track


A mountain biker whizzed by, a friend passed at a jog and then I stopped to chat to a woman who told me, as though it was a perfectly ordinary thing to do, that she had walked the Overland Track more than 20 times.  That’s massive! She talked about the enjoyment of taking a backpack and bushwalking alone for days at a time. I was so captivated by her self reliance that when I finally walked on, I took my more usual route and had to backtrack to the Fern Glade path beneath the high canopy with it’s dense understory of tree ferns through which the rivulet weaves, making its way beneath a series of wooden bridges.  Often on this track light falls in luminous bands through the foliage.  Despite the rain and snow we’d had, I’d walked some distance before I found the rivulet pooled in a puddle, and further down the soaked bed, a silvery trickle slipping modestly over the waterfall at the old quarry on Huon Road, a road originally carved out of the forest in the 1830s.

Fern Glade 1

Fern Glade 2

I would not know this until I finally picked up a map a few weeks later but the rivulet along the Fern Glade track is the Longhill Creek.  At its confluence in Fern Tree it travels west.  The actual Sandy Bay rivulet heads down Jacksons Bend and so I should have walked the leech track, (as I’ve done on other occasions) and defied the dangers of the copse.

Rivulet sighted on the Fern Glade track. But who is it really?

In my ignorance, I began my next descent from within the tiny heart of Fern Tree, on the Pipeline track, passing old sandstone structures associated with the early supply of water to Hobart, cheering on the trickles of water trying to create new beds for themselves, noting the swish of a cyclist above me on Huon Road, and careful not to disturb two rosellas murmuring sweet nothings to each other in a eucalypt tree above my head.  I co-own a yacht with a friend/neighbour and I co-own a copper beech with some neighbourhood rosellas.  I looked up at them looking down at me and wondered if they are a part of that small flock that make a gentle rain of husks from the swollen leaf buds in the days before the new leaves unfurl.


On Hall’s Saddle the path crosses the road.  I walked on into a dry sclerophyll landscape, heading for Gentle Annie Falls and the Waterworks Reserve.  Finally I really was in the Sandy Bay Rivulet’s catchment and the real walk was just beginning.

Walking the Sandy Bay Rivulet From Source to Estuary Part 1

Part One:  Being Random

Because I live in the Sandy Bay Rivulet’s catchment, it seemed symbolic that I should kick off my beach walks by strolling the Sandy Bay Rivulet from its source at The Springs (about half way up the mountain) to Short Beach where it enters the Derwent.  I looked at the spurs high up near the summit, figuring out the catchment zone.  I read reports and discovered some conflicting facts about where its source is believed to be.  I did some sleuthing, discovering it here and there as it meandered through its urban reaches.  I made an astounding discovery – or so I thought.  It’s the rivulet that flows beside my favourite forest track.

‘You’re going to walk the what?’ said my friends.  It seems that even if you live in its catchment, on the landscape it has made, the rivulet is out of sight and out of mind.

While vacuuming one day, it occurred to me that it must flow through Turnip Fields.  I cut that chore short and went to explore this little known spot.  From the road I saw new houses with names like Mystic Way, and the Derwent, like a heart-shaped lake, captured by the foothills.  I saw the reservoir at Waterworks and down on the valley floor, blocked by private property, I saw the forest it must surely run through.

The one thing I didn’t do was consult a map.

Confident I now knew its route, I told the geologist I would follow the rivulet that slips down beside ‘the leech path’ to Jackson’s Bend on Huon Road.  There’s a steep, forested valley on the lower side and I imagined I would slither down into this copse with my sailing boots in my rucksack in case I had to slosh my way down the rivulet itself.  Over drinks the geologist explained that I would need a compass, that the bush would be dense, and quite possibly impenetrable over the rivulet.  He told me it was even conceivable I could fall over a cliff and die.

I was disbelieving.  The copse is narrow but it’s true the slope is steep.  I had thought of my descent into the valley as a drop into an unknown world – old memories of the Famous Five had stirred, awakening my inner George.  ‘Forget it,’ said the geologist, and told me of his efforts to push through horizontal and the achingly slow progress he had made.  ‘Only masochists will go into that stuff.  There’s too little reward.’

I was unconvinced but I didn’t like the idea of encountering old bones (that cliff!) or trespassing and encountering a landowner bristling with weapons, as occurred to some others in a 4×4 recently.  And so I agreed to begin at The Springs and to follow a more conventional way down to the river.

From the Springs to the River: Radfords Track
From the Springs to the River: Radfords Track

Tasmanian Beaches: Reflections 1

MONDAY 11 MAY 2015


One the shores of the Derwent

A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. 
Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

As soon as we got home from  the Arm End walk I grabbed a coffee and began to research the Tasmanian coastline.  Someone must have written up their beach walks around Tasmania!  My sleuthing uncovered someone Walking the Derwent River, a group walking the beaches in Clarence, and Andrew Short, who has recorded all of Tasmania’s beaches as well as the entire coastline of Australia.  As soon as I saw the title of his report I realised I’d seen it before – and so I rang the geologist and suggested he visit the library.  (There is nothing like a library – the next day I had it!)

The State Library of Tasmania holds tantalising titles too, and I’m conscious at the same time that although I had to dive deep into the internet to uncover sunken treasure it’s many fathoms deep and oceans vast, and there could well be further riches down there in someone’s lost, forgotten blog.

I flipped through Short’s illuminating report.  Mary Ann wasn’t one long beach.  She did have a companion, the one apparently nameless that I’m going to personally call (serious nomenclature being one for the state) Gellibrand Vault Beach.  Down at The Spit there were two other beaches I’d either not noticed sufficiently or had failed to record.  I’m pretty sure locals must call them North and South Spit beaches.

He’d also numbered the beaches along the Derwent Estuary. I’m often on them.  How could I not include these old favourites?  I looked at my chart of the Derwent, I consulted maps.   I thought about the mountain and how it conjures up weather and serves up magic or sorcery for yachties, how when you’re out there sailing, you have to keep your eye on it so you know what might be brewing.  The river is inextricably bound to the mountain, not just through the wind but because rivulets carrying altitudinal memories and stories flow down into it, bringing their own unique chemistries to the Derwent.

The mountain’s personal space extends some way out to sea – you feel its moods, it’s muscle flexing.  How could I not take all that into account?  I looked again at Andrew Short’s incredible number, 1,067, and quickly remembered that in all things, small is beautiful. Perhaps 100 beaches was a more suitable goal.  Perhaps I should focus on a particular locale.  I decided to make my mistakes close to home and start with the beaches of the Derwent and the South Arm Peninsula, possibly even the D’entrecasteau Channel, but I didn’t dare count them.

I had walked several beaches before I realised the beginning was merely symbolic.  Exploring the beaches, laying down memories about them, began on my first visit to Tasmania many years ago.

Still, I felt that before I began on the beaches not that far from my front door, I needed to know more about that beautiful thing, the river, its currents and waves, which along with the wind shapes the shoreline, and the small but powerful rivulets that merge and become one with it.

This project was proving to be as shapeshifting as the beaches themselves.

Detail, Grange Beach section