Sunday, September 06, 2015

Walking the Jordan - Lovely Day, Lovely Setting

Quiet Moment on the Jordan River
Friday, September 4, 2015.

I walked around 10 Km today and just had a look at the map. If I had travelled from Brighton to Pontville by car it would have been 3 Km and about 4 minutes drive. Still, it was a crisp early spring day and I discovered some territory that I would never have appreciated if I had done it that way. I suppose the moral of this tale is - don't think you have seen Tasmania if you have driven along our highways.

The Jordan River starts at Lake Tiberius and runs south for 111 Kms before joining the Derwent at Bridgewater. It is said to have been named by one private Hugh Germain(e) who carried a Bible and a copy of the Arabian Nights in his pack and may also have named  Jericho, Bagdad and Lake Tiberius, although some say it was the surveyors, not Germaine(e).  A walkway starts near the highway bridge south east of  Brighton and follows the river back for about 4.9 Km. Along the way you pass a picnic spot or two, and some lovely views over rolling hills to distant mountains. Baby ducks and swamp hen chicks swim bravely against the current and the frogs sing up a storm. At higher elevations daffodils and fruit trees are in bloom and the scent of wattle fills the air while the not unpleasant aroma of horse and gorse assails the nostrils on the river flats. Brighton is rather famous for its horse studs.

There is no shortage of stately homes here
Once hailed as the potential capital of Tasmania and named by that prolific namer of places, Governor Macquarie, after the King's favourite country retreat, Brighton became a military establishment in the 1820's to guard the many convicts needed to build the road.

The highlight of the walk was undoubtedly coming upon the historic village of Pontville quite early on the track, though the walking guide said that you end up in Pontville which was a bit confusing.
I had of course driven through here many times when the main road passed this way, but usually I was in too much of a hurry to stop and too busy negotiating the winding road to slow down and take a look. A clutch of stately homes and picturesque cottages clings to the hillside, along with fine churches, some old shops and public buildings and a pub which most likely served bushrangers as well as coaches. In addition to Lythgo Row, the collection of five conjoined cottages dating from 1824, which were thought to have been soldiers' barracks, my favourite is the little stone cottage on the opposite side of the bridge where the track is. Much of the stone used in Hobart's colonial buildings also came from here.


Pontville- Most buildings date from the 1820's
One of my favourite cottages though the ceilings might be too low by today's standards

Expecting more photogenic buildings further on, I continued walking alongside the river to where there the track notes promised a ford. I was disappointed. The ford has been replaced by a modern, albeit kooky bridge that leads to a farmhouse and, rather like the Margate walk, the track abruptly ends in a modern semi rural suburb. This one seemed to have pretentions to grandeur. There were expansive driveways with fountains, garden sculptures and horsefloats. I'd hate to have their mortgage! I suspect the owners might be a bit snobbish too.

Getting a bit tired and not wanting to go back the way I had come, I headed for the road hoping for a bus or maybe a lift. The people I asked for directions were friendly enough, but none of the cars which passed offered me a lift, not even when I sporadically stuck my thumb out. I had planned on having coffee and cake at the little bakery in Brighton after the walk, but by the time I had hobbled all the way back, I probably looked and certainly felt like a bag lady and just wanted to get to my car. I did however, find some interesting walkways through Brighton, not all of them known to the locals.

There was one other interesting thing I noticed on the way. I thought I had seen some pieces of obsidian. I'm not sure if these were in fact Aboriginal artifacts, but when I looked it up on the net, it turned out that the river flats had long been Aboriginal hunting grounds and an important migration route and have now been Heritage Listed.  

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