Tuesday, October 27, 2015

South Hobart - Lenah Valley round trip

It's not far at all, really.
I managed to shuffle through all urgent work and get a clear few hours to tackle the walk I mentioned in the last post. A nice sunny day and no engagements until school gets out at 3. 

Yesterday I met a dog-walking friend, Roz, who is very knowledgable; she confirmed that there is definitely a track through. And she commnented on how clever the Hobart City Council were to buy up the whole gully after the 1967 fire; there had been people living in there until then. They closed the old tip behind our house and opened a new one there. Possibly the floor of the gully then was way below what it is now; there is a quite a big useable flat area which is not what I think of usually when I hear the word 'gully'. 

Winston and I left the car in the Tip shop carpark – although its not far from our house, its not very nice walking him up the tip road with no footpath. Just up the hill before you reach the gatehouse, a gravel road peels off to the right. The other day we followed this a little way then turned off to the right; today I intended to stay on it heading north and see what we could see. It climbs for a while and then you are on a fairly level fire trail looking down into the newer part of the tip. At one point a steep track heads right, up Knocklofty; I am 90% sure that its a human track but its pretty rough. 

Into the unknown
Staying on the fire trail you descend into the gully and you are for a while unpleasantly IN THE TIP. There were no trucks or traffic or people but its clearly an area where stuff is sometimes still dumped. Lots of sawdust. There is an odd dead end roadway that is all grown over with grass; until I realised it was a dead end I was going to head up it. The alternative is a narrow, very steep but 4WD-able road to the right, that follows the powerlines.

Some sawdust and rusty rebar just to give it that 'the tip' feeling

As I was approaching it I saw an elderly person coming down. I thought it might be some ancient denizen of the gully, who refused to move on after the fire and ekes out a living, Mad Max 3 Beyond Thunderdome-style. Obviously this involves killing and eating any tubby graphic designers or none-too-bright labradors foolish enough to wander in. In fact she was a pleasant lady of German extraction kitted out in tweeds, doing a bit of freelance bushcare.

She also confirmed that the path did go through to Pottery Rd, so we kept going. I had thought that it might follow the gully and stay fairly level but it rose and fell quite a bit. Then we passed a vehicle gate with Trespassers Prohibited on it, but facing the way we were heading. I did think of a worst case scenario where we would have to walk back the long way if someone objected to us going back past that gate.

Tweed Lady said she thought this roadway dated back to before the 67 fire,
and they are keeping it clear in case its decided to push a road through one day.
Shortly after, we descended to a crossroads - on the left the Breakneck Track rises steeply to Junction cabin, on the way to Mt Wellington/kunanyi. To the right it leads into Knocklofty reserve. 

At the crossroads; I think this goes up Knocklofty.
We went straight on and found ourselves walking along a grassy vehicular track along the edge of a paddock - with some old chookhouses and dead white goods to our left. There is a big house up the hill a fair way off - I expected people and possibly dogs to object to us but no-one did.

Descending into someone's paddock
The grassy track ends at the long dirt-road driveway of the house; turning left here takes you out to Pottery Road, and bingo you are in suburban Lenah Valley. There is a gate a little way in from the road, it was open, but had a sign on it saying Please Close Gate – Private Road.

At this point you can look down into a scrubby gorse-infested back paddock and see the Mystical Seven Trampolines. Would love to know what they get up to a moonlit night up here.

Crazy times in Lenah Valley
As we regarded the trampolines various dogs started barking so we moved along smartly to a little park for lunch, where we weren't bothering anyone.

The mountain is a different shape from over here

Two views of a very cute little house on the corner of Ruth St
 Then we retraced our steps uneventfully. Didn't see the tweed lady again, no-one objected to our trespassing, saw no mountain bikes or walkers; just solitude until we popped back out at the Tip Shop.

Mission accomplished; now I know what is behind the hill. I don't really know why its not marked on maps; I guess as it involves a bit of light trespassing this is not thought to be right to encourage.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Exploring South Hobart 2 - plans

Ever since we moved to South Hobart (on the day Cathy Freeman won the 400m gold medal at the Sydney Olympics) I have wanted to walk cross country to North Hobart, or at least Mount Stuart. I have done it by an indirect route many times; walking down the rivulet (which runs along a very steep escarpment) to the point where a zigzag track goes up to westest West Hobart, then down through West to North. It is a nice walk but not what I really want to do.

The difficult part about my alternative route that skirts the scarp, is that it means going through the gates of the Hobart tip, which are only open at certain times. As I don't know for certain how long I'll be gone or even if I will come back the same way, it will require a morning departure or I may return to find that I am stuck in the tip for the evening like a wounded seagull.

It looks to me from Google Earth that having walked up McRobies Gully into the tip, you should be able to follow the valleys on a fairly level northward heading and actually come out at Pottery Road, Lenah Valley. To drive there you need to make three sides of the square; so it would be quite neat to walk directly. I do not particularly want to go to Lenah Valley for anything but it would be interesting to work out what is between here and there, since no tracks or roads are marked on maps although a gated gravel road leads off in that direction from the tip.

Our house is in the centre of the opening frame of this screengrab; and I am going to try and walk through the valley to the left of the big tubby hill, Knocklofty.

 Oh by the way, how cool is Google Earth?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Exploring South Hobart

A loyal customer of the blog contacted me by telephone a few days ago to check that I was OK. I am OK, I'm pleased to say, but just going though a busy patch with work, which of course is great news when you work for yourself.

In my spots of free time I am making an effort to walk some of the many tracks through the bush around here. Spurring me on is a book that has just come out about South Hobart, titled Beneath The Mountain by Alison Alexander. It’s a big, fat, detailed and well-illustrated history of the place that has been our home for fifteen years now.

I read it from cover to cover. The first two-thirds of it, while fascinating, were driving me nuts due to the lack of specific addresses for all the lively pubs, factories, dairies etc that are mentioned. But in the last third the author does a street-by-street survey and mentions actual street addresses for now-gone buildings, businesses and institutions.

South Hobart was very seriously affected by the great 1967 bushfire that raged across southern Tasmania - many houses were lost, and it is often the reason behind an early 70s brick house appearing amongst weatherboards in the streetscape.

One building that may have been demolished after the fire was the head brewer's house at Cascade Brewery. It's there on a hill in this painting by Haughton Forrest from 1890. (The brewery is now four stories higher).

I decided to walk up there and see if anything was left. There is a mobile phone tower on the crest of the hill now so I knew we could get at least that far. Turns out the foundations are still there and a few interesting rusty bits and pieces. The thick power cables to the humming phone tower were laid right over the foundations.

Some kind of heater/cooler?

Not much domestic stuff left but this is nice

Foundations running away from the camera with power source laid across

The back of the Cascade Brewery

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday morning washing up thought

A wattle bird in the wattle tree. Etymologically they have nothing to do with each other.