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.