Derwent River: Blinking Billy to Hinsby Beach: Part 8

Naming it up

The places I’ve identified have given me the slip so I’m mentally doing circles around High School Point and  the beach some call Beck’s, some call Melinga and some call nothing at all to have a little think about the local expression of the human mind.

This is because in misleading myself when it comes to naming, I’m sure I’ve misled you.  Perhaps the cartographers, surveyors and the Nomenclature Board have not chatted enough over tea breaks or scheduled sufficient meetings, given that for many years they’ve been part of the same division in the same government agency.  This occurred to me because more research this past week indicated one of two things:  1.  I’ve misinterpreted local writers’ beach identification or 2.  The locals simply cannot agree, are occasionally geographically challenged and at other times are simply not precise enough to help confused readers out.  A case in point, Karringal Court is not south of High School Point as one of the authors I read would have it.  Whatever, the maps themselves have so very little to say!

Nomenclature, generally, is further complicated because where no formal name exists the Aboriginal community have naming rights.  But they are made up of several communities and they don’t all know a place by a single name.  Take the Derwent River itself.  It has more than one Palawa name.  According to a member of the Channel community, their name for the river is unlikely to be formally recognised.  I was given this name on a small piece of paper I can no longer find, which is a shame.  The name is beautiful.

The second point of difficulty is in negotiating on names with government.  I had a chat to someone from the Aboriginal Community when I was at Risdon Cove.  They said the government drags its feet.  I spoke to someone in government.  They said it’s hard to get representatives of the Aboriginal community to the table.

I revisited the foreshore and was pleased to encounter a local who told me he’d been walking these beaches since 1948.  An expert, surely!

’Becks, Dixons and Retreat,’ I asked. ‘Can you confirm I’ve got them in the right order?’  He looked at me blankly.

‘I’ve never heard of them,’ he said.  ‘The one you’re calling Beck’s I know as Melinga Place Beach.  Why would it be called Beck’s anyway?’

I went home.  I reopened my books and I clicked through web pages.  I rediscovered an article by Reg Escott on the Taroona Book Digitised website, who in his article on Taroona’s  boat sheds explains that Taroona has five beaches.  Starting at Grange Point, they are:

Retreat Beach [my impression was that he means the whole long strip starting from Grange Beach (not named) and ending at Retreat Cove, the northern beach on ‘High School Point’]

Retreat Cove [the one I thought was Dixons, on the northern section of ‘High School Point’]

Dixons Beach [in front of the high school, south of ‘High School Point’]

Beck’s Beach [Melinga Place beach]

Taroona Crescent Beach [Taroona Beach]

Hinsby Beach.

Have a look for yourself.  It’s an interesting read if you’d like to know more about boat sheds (of which there were many more in the past) – or are keen to stumble across a clue or two as to the interesting placement and formations of boulders / rocks around these beaches.  They have been moved, post invasion/settlement.

I came to two conclusions.

  1. Beach identity is (always) in a state of flux along this shoreline.  For eg, Beck’s is named for a land owner (and perhaps before that was called Mitchells after an earlier owner bearing that name) but now it’s transitioning to being named for a street.  Dixon had a farm somewhere in Taroona.
  2. We keep messing with the landscape.  Had the road not been built down to the shoreline, Beck’s and Dixons (if I’m identifying these correctly) would be one beach.

But, guess what?  I probably still don’t have the order right.  This morning I revisited the Taroona 1:25 000 map (no 5224) and this is the nomenclature that’s listed, north to south:

The Grange Picnic Area (at Cartwright Point!  Go figure.)

Cartwright Creek

Cartwright Point

Dixons Reef (in the region of Karringal Court)

Dixons Beach (which I’d figured was Retreat Cove – see above)

High School – the site indicated but the point not named

Crayfish Point

Taroona Beach

Alum Cliffs

That’s pretty meagre and laxadaisical, if you ask me, given this map is supposed to be authoritative.  What’s more, The Listmap, supposedly the most current source, given that it’s online, has even less information!  And so I’m giving up.  Here, in this city of 250,000 people more or less, we know and care so little about the coastline we haven’t named it up.  The alternative view is that the coastline rejects our spurious naming methodology, if it can even be called that.  Why name something so grand and long enduring after unexceptional land owners?  Why name it’s spots but not it’s freckles?

I like the view of the coastline slipping free of its transient names, even though names would be so helpful when you want to text your lift your whereabouts.  May it stay wild and secret in the city forever.  And perhaps Andrew Short who numbers the beaches, and my friend, who is fine with degrees of latitude and longitude but not with names have a point because if we’re not in a relationship with the coast, and we don’t value it, then it’s nothing but a nameless stranger to us after all.


Moon over Grange compressed
The moon rising over the boulder at Grange Beach

Apart from the links above, see the Place Names Tasmania database.  Here’s the official document on the rules with regard to assigning Tasmanian  place names.

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