Friday, April 24, 2015

Paddle therapy

Some days I have no client work to do and no money coming in. Jobs get put on hold, clients appear to be ignoring invoices that are due - this combines to throw me into a bit of a funk.

One approach is to work on my t-shirt business, but some days I see that for what it really is -  a hobby that generates a bit of pin money but no more than that. What I should do is update my website, but I find its hard to enthusiastically self-promote when I have a lot of negative feelings bubbling around.

So this week I had a few days of feeling low and just doing work around the house, knocking off errands in town etc. But I can tell you, doing housework and going to second hand shops in the middle of a Wednesday morning is a great way to feel unemployed - when you have gone into it with the aforementioned neggo attitude anyway.

I resolved to do something different yesterday morning - just go for another paddle. It wasn't sunny but it was still and reasonably mild. I didn't make up my mind until the last minute, when I chose Geilston Bay. Mum and Dad are away in Fiji (hi!) but I have a key so I thought it would be a good spot, as I could let myself in there and warm up afterwards. I didn't take my camera so I have plundered the internet for photos.

View from Geilston Bay boat ramp by ronrainbow
I slid into the water beside the boat ramp at a little after nine. It's a pretty sheltered bay and the water was like glass. Ducks and cormorants took off as I paddled between the yachts and gave them a fright. One of the yachts was called Jacana - which was the club from which Carlton recruited Bruce Doull. That's right, football trivia never leaves you alone. In fact, that one set of footsteps on the beach? - That's when football trivia was carrying you along.

I was intending to paddle out into the Derwent then upriver to Shag Bay (named for the ubiquitous cormorants). Long ago I fished there with Nick in the early morning and did this drawing of the view. It is not accessible by road, so it has a bit of an air of solitude and mystery and I was keen to paddle around it.

I found this in my 1997 diary so that's 18 years ago. That day
I caught three cod, cooked and ate them. They were mushy.
Geilston Bay is opposite Selfs Point, and the oil storage facility that I talked about in the last paddling post. I was heading straight for it as I came out of the bay, and it looked close enough, and the water still enough, that I could have gone straight over. Would I have got back though? As I hadn't told anyone where I was going I thought it was not a good time to be too bold.

Upriver from Selfs Point the next major feature is the Nyrstar zincworks, which I still think of as "EZ". It was EZ for decades, then Pasminco, then Zinifex briefly and now Nyrstar. I have always found industrial sites like this really fascinating. Dad worked here in his school holidays in about 1959 or so.

Nystar Zincworks from the Bedlam Walls track. Pic borrowed from TasTrails site. 
Again the smell changed once I was out in midstream of the Derwent - the fresh morning salty tang of Geilston Bay took on a more metallic sort of flavour. I was paddling upstream but it was flat, no wind and fairly easy. The eastern shore here is called Bedlam Walls, according to various sources because of an aboriginal massacre that occurred here. The Mou-maire-mener people lived on both banks of the river at the time of white settlement in 1803. A famous massacre occurred that year at Risdon nor far up the river. I am not sure if they are the same event or not. The aboriginal history is discussed a little here. There are caves all along Bedlam Walls that were used as shelters. That page also talks about an aboriginal quarry site where chalcedony was ground into tools.

I had remembered being told that the rusty remnants around Shag Bay were from the whaling industry which used to be synonymous with Hobart. However from the reading I have just been doing the industries here were shipbreaking, a bone mill (making fertiliser) and a Marine Board quarry. The quarry is in my drawing above and also this pic from the blog Walking The Derwent - author unknown but I have borrowed a couple of their pics.

The old Marine Board quarry on the north side of Shag Bay.
I paddled into Shag Bay and looked for a good spot to land. In the quarry there are piles of rusting metal, and at the head of the bay an old boiler that I recalled from the previous visit. I wanted to check them all out but I was lairy about slipping on the slimy rocks. I ended up finding a good rock shelf just below the waterline near the quarry that would be safe enough to climb out on.

The whole area is is fascinating and the lack of signs is surprising. Today I have been reading about the boiler - it is a remnant of the bone mill, which shut down after a fatal accident when a different boiler exploded and killed a father and son. An inquest was held and you can read the newspaper report here. The roof of the boiler shed blew hundreds of feet into the air.

Edit: after an anonymous tip-off I have found some images that suggest the boiler was a relic of the shipbreaking business which makes more sense.

I wandered around the quarry area and collected a rusty iron spike to bring home for Michael, and some good big flakes of rust for Marcus's chemical experiments. There was not a soul in sight, and it occured to me it would be a beaut place to spend a day painting, untroubled by critics. Then a kayaker went by out in the Derwent and gave me a wave. I had just got back into the wave ski and pushed off when two yachts rounded the point and came into the bay with four or five old blokes on each. So my quiet enjoyment of Shag Bay had just been luck, it seems.

Shag Bay is just a little notch really. Pic from TasTrails
The paddle back to Geilston Bay was a bit choppier and slightly harder work, and my back started to ache. But I really felt that my deskbound worries were getting further away, the colder and wetter and more tired and sore that I got. It was amazing. I just focussed on the thought of beaching the wave ski, getting dry, getting some coffee inside me. Nothing else seemed remotely important.

The kayaker I had seen had got to shore just ahead of me and we had a brief chat. He was similarly inexperienced to me which was nice! I asked him if he'd ever been across the river, and he said no, but we agreed that on a calm day it would be do-able.

When I got home the coffee was marvellous, the ugg boots were fantastic and I even had a couple of emails with work to do, so all up it was very effective therapy.

Thank you to all the people and sites I have pinched photos from. I will try to take my own on the next paddle.

An old ship named the Nelson being broken up in Shag Bay. From the Australian National Shipwreck Database.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Went for a wander into Shag Bay myself yesterday, had been about 25 years! I'm wondering though, if the boiler and scrap could actually be remnants of the shipwreck 'Nelson' ?

Any thoughts on this? Great blog btw, need to get myself paddling too!

chris rees said...

I reckon you are right about the boiler. I have posted one of the pics at the end of the story above, looks a lot like the boiler at Shag Bay. Happy paddling.

Tasmanian Traveller said...

Glad you liked some of my postings and photos. Its always great travelling locally.