Monday, September 28, 2015

Avagoodweekend - A bit of Sunworship

Lads of the Blue Emporium celebrating the sun and Thank God it's Friday with a beer and some music on the street

We and about ten thousand other people head to Mount Wellington for a bit of Mountain Worship on this fine Saturday

Trip to the Trig Point looks like a Haj
Great Views though
I was hoping the wildflowers might be out but there's still a bit of snow on the mountain
An endless chain of mountains to the North East
Looking South East
We have ourselves a little picnic at the Old Springs Hotel Site which soon attracts some of Tasmania's endemic crows. The wild daffodils are out. The sun seems to have slipped behind the mountain, though it's still light enough to see. This area has always seemed just a little haunted to me. Benign ghosts of course.The Hotel,  which was where Hobart's idle rich went to escape the summer heat, burnt down in the 1967 bushfires.  For some reason, I always imagine ladies in long dresses dancing on this green, especially on moonlit nights. The full moon is already rising.

Steps to Nowhere 1
Steps to Nowhere 2
The first crow
Two more- I am not sure how many crows constitute a murder of crows but I am most definitely reminded of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Along the Derwent to Bedlam Walls

The Tasman Bridge  as seen through a memorial at Montague Bay

Thursday, September  24, 2015

Today I walked  about 7 kilometres from Montague Bay to Geilston Bay, and  then rock -hopped about another two along the shore beneath the Bedlam Walls, a cliff face which overlooks the Derwent.

A lone canoeist breaks the mirrored surface
After starting on the south side of the Bridge and going beneath its rumbling arches heavy with traffic, the track  meanders pleasantly to Lindisfarne  past  elegant houses jockeying  for water views and equally lovely gardens with beautiful flowering trees – even the street voted most attractive in 1985.  As with my beach walk a few days ago, this path was also popular with cyclists, joggers and dog walkers, though perhaps not as many as along the previous section. There were numerous seats and occasional sidetracks which gave onto little beaches. The latter must be fishing spots because they were mostly rocky and not all that pretty, but the birds were doing a bit of fishing there too.  Mums and Dads will also appreciate the several playgrounds along the way not to mention the free barbecues at Geilston Bay, which were also enjoying considerable patronage.

It's all about boats and birds here

I am quite blasé now about the views of the city across the bay and the sight of so many yachts reflected in its waters. In a perverse Wabi Sabi – loving the imperfect, kind of way, I tried instead to  photograph  the industrial sprawl of the Zinc Works breathing smoke into a lowering sky like some enormous  fearsome  beast.
Zinc Works - Sorry doesn't quite capture it - needs a telephoto lens

 It was good walking weather – not too hot and certainly not as cold and rainy as it had been for the last couple of days, so I kept going on to Geilston Bay and then on up the pathway to towards Shag Bay.  This proved to be the most exciting part of the journey.

Escapee Wallflowers provide a colourful and scented contrast
Stunning Rock Formations at Bedlam Walls
It's a long way down!

Entrance to one of the Caves
This area is particularly interesting both geologically and because the Aborigines obviously spent much time here, leaving behind  not only the usual shell middens but also a quarry and tools. Most importantly, there are several large caves there which were definitely used as shelters by them. 

Here the cliff face is riddled with caves but photos were difficult because there are few places to stand safely
Unfortunately, the official  track is now closed, but I came there by way of the rock ledges below and was not aware of this fact. I am not sure if closure is due to some instability, or for cultural reasons.  If the former,  then I am a careful risk taker and did nothing which might jeopardise my own skin – always a hazard when you walk alone (and yes, son of mine I was carrying the EPIRB, in case you were going to ask). If the latter, then I apologise for the intrusion. The track notes say you enter at your own risk.  

Even from a purely geological point of view these caves are amazing. According to one geological report I read, they were made by the sea, but now stand some thirty feet (10 metres) above it. 
The return trip was a bit of an anti -climax but thankfully mostly downhill and uneventful, but for a very few wild flowers – another orchid, and the first of the butterfly irises which you can see below. I think I may have called them lilies in the previous post). You can imagine how pretty they would look when massed and in flower. 

Another day, another orchid. This is a Leopard Orchid (Diuris Pardina) according to my correspondents at the Society for Growing Australian Plants

Early Butterfly Irises

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Charles Darwin Trial - Part III

Which way would you go? The track is actually down hill, a little to the left and then runs off to the right - impossible to tell coming from the top
Sunday, September 2015.

I finally did it!
Late in the day, I sneaked up on the Waverley Flora Reserve from the rear (south west)  - the way you were supposed to go and discovered all the places where I went wrong before. The track went through open woodland which appears to have suffered greatly due to fire and being too close to habitation. Nevertheless, at least three kinds of wattle were in bloom including one which I had never seen before and there were a few banksias as well as the ubiquitous sheoaks - some of which may well have been he -oaks. Curiously he -oaks are  the ones without little balls. They are a very ancient species which survive drought by having very tiny leaves enclosed by needles. One other curious discovery - a large pile of old scallop shells (see bottom pic). Could these have been part of an Aboriginal midden or have they merely been dumped by more recent sojourners who were equally fond of shell fish? Should I be excited about an archaeological find or disgusted that people haven't taken their rubbish out with them?
I have now walked all the inland sections of this 12 km walk at least twice. I am sure Charles Darwin would be proud!

Banksia amid the Sheoaks

She oak and wattle

Blue is a colour you don't often see in the bush. There was a lot of this creeper
This is the beautifully named Blue Love Creeper Comesperma Volubile*

This little wildflower too. Yellow is the predominant colour in this part of the woodland
Grey Parrot Pea Dillwynia Cinerascens*
Bossaiea Prostrata
There were also at least three types of wattle. This one is commonly called prickly Moses
Tiny mystery Wattle is a prostrate form of Acacia genistifolia*

Ancient Midden or Careless Visitors?
* Plant id. kindly provided by Bob and Joy Coghlan of the Society for Growing Australian Plants

Sunday, September 20, 2015

In the Footsteps of Charles Darwin - Sort of

Peaceful harbour at Bellerive
I like a themed walk – it adds an extra dimension to just being out in the fresh air, so I was quite pleased to read about the Charles Darwin Walk on the Eastern Shore and the weather being co -operative, I hurried off to explore. What a true mission of discovery it turned out to be. The track commemorates Charles Darwin’s brief visit to Tasmania in 1836, where he noted the geology as well as the flora and fauna and had a lovely time  being entertained by the locals at “Secheron” in Battery Point. Charles must have been busy that year, because there is also a Charles Darwin Walk in NSW, which he also did in 1836.

Since Darwin had crossed by ferry to Bellerive,  I knew he had started there, but none of the many walkers I spoke to on the jetty had any idea about the walk. The map I had seen showed it running along the beach, so I set off in that direction and hadn’t gone more than a few steps before coming  across this track marker.

So far so good.  Unfortunately there were very few others. I walked the length of the coastal track to Howrah, passing by several locations that Darwin had noted. The Permian Mudstone from 175 million years ago at Kangaroo Bluff and the 240 million year old Triassic layering at Second Bluff,  which contained layers of mixed pebbles and fossils.  The latter puzzled him and he concluded that they may have been deposited by ice sheets. Though he noted this in his field notes he did not mention it publicly, since  the idea of glaciation did not gain traction until 1856. Later, his notes were used to substantiate the theory of continental drift.

Second Bluff - where Darwin's observations of interposed layers of pebbles gave rise to his theory that they may have been deposited by melting ice

Views across the Derwent
Superb views across the bay to Howrah
Charles would have also had lovely views of the Derwent and Mount Wellington, though there would have been very few houses, and certainly not the easy sealed track which I followed. I on the other hand, encountered many MILFs pushing their prams, countless dog walkers, several cyclists and two charming young men of the Latter Day Saints incongruously dressed in suits,  who not only offered a very friendly greeting but ran after me for some distance to return my camera which I had left on a seat. 

The beach track is busy - lots of mothers and babies, dogwalkers, runners and cyclists, sometimes all three
At the end of this track, which finishes at a Service Station on a major road, there were no further markers and no indication of where the inland section began, so I caught a mystery bus which mercifully brought me back to the white whale. I also stopped off at the Council Chambers and got a map.

Undeterred and suitably armed, I set off the next day to head uphill to begin the inland section through the Waverly Flora Park. This too, was easier said than done but I was glad that I had decided to do the uphill section first. I would not have wanted to do it after the nine or ten kilometres I had walked the day before. Again, none of the local people had heard of this trail and markers were few and far between.

After a couple of false starts, I found the Winifred Curtis Entrance to the Flora Park. This was named  after a botanist who had been a bit of a legend at the University of Tasmania, being the author of the still definitive guide to endemic plants The Student’s Flora of Tasmania and  in 1945, only the second woman  to be admitted to the faculty. Born in the UK in 1905, she remained very active in the field of botanical research until her death in 2005, at the age of 100. She also has a reserve named after her at Scamander on Tasmania’s East Coast.  How thrilled she would have been to see the early wild flowers, particularly the orchids.

First orchid I have seen this year - a Tiger Orchid  Diuris Sulphurea*
This shameless red pea flower is commonly called the Running Postman. Proper name Kennedia Prostrata
Out of focus Guinea flowers probably Hibbertia Sericia*
This is a drier forest, not as immediately rich in species until you notice the burgeoning wild flowers. The soils are poor, there are few big trees and at the top it is all rocky outcrops. Again as I walked, I tried to picture what Charles Darwin might have seen. He would have noticed the sheoaks, a few white gums and the wattles. In February there may have been a sea of butterfly bushes which now look just like sags. He would have seen and heard strange birds and enjoyed occasional stunning glimpses over the bay.

Somber sheoaks line the way
After a fire both sheoaks and wattles add nitrogen to the soil, allowing other species to follow. The grass - like plants are probably butterfly lillies which would look a sight in the summer

He certainly noticed the rocks.He commented on the red siltstone now very visible in the historic quarry. I also found a fossil (and left it where it lay for others to find).  Fortunately I did not encounter any of his "flatworms, dung beetles or reptiles."

My fossil
Red Siltstone or Mudstone at the Quarry 
What he wouldn’t have seen are all the different tracks*. I tried and tried, taking a different one each time, but still found myself circling the aerial, the water tanks and the quarry at least three times, without coming upon the track which led to Howrah, the place where I had left off the day before. When I did find a new track on my last attempt, it led me around the back of this hill to somewhere overlooking the freeway to the airport. I then had a long walk back to Bellerive Village where I had left my car. Now it looks like I have to start again from the bottom at the other end. Obviously an adventure for another day.  I have however, seen a great deal more of Bellerive and Howrah so it was still a journey of discovery for me - something I always enjoy.  I was definitely born a hundred years too late. I also enjoyed talking to many of the local people whom I asked for directions, even though very few of them had heard of the track.

*Clarence Council has tried hard with this trail but has not been able to keep up with the vandals. Many of the markers in the forest section have been defaced.  There is also the assumption that one would be coming from the South, not the North as I did, so a few more markers on the footpaths at that end would be helpful to avoid those several false starts. My thanks to whoever put chalk arrows on the rocks in some places. Next time I will leave a trail of breadcrumbs.

** Plant id. kindly provided by Bob and Joy Coghlan of the Society for Growing Australian Plants

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.