A Walk Back Through Time – the Hobart Rivulet

Hobart has a fascinating colonial history which on many levels can be seen from the the buildings of the era, but they don’t really tell what life was like during that period. Wouldn’t it be great if you could go back through time and see Hobart and how the people lived? Well you can – sort of. No this doesn’t involve travelling back through time à la Doctor Who, but rather a short walk of just over 5.5Km (or 3.4 miles) return and a morning of your time.

Hobart Rivulet Park
Following Hobart Rivulet upstream from the city to the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington, this trail has a gentle uphill grade and is well suited to bikes and dogs on lead.

The starting point for our time travelling adventure is the Collins Way Car Park situated on the corner of Molle and Collins Streets. Walk through the car park to the start of the Hobart Linear Park and then follow the sign for the Hobart Rivulet Walking Track. The Hobart Rivulet was crucial to the establishment of Hobart as a city. Back in 1803 the Van Dieman’s Land colony was first established upon the banks of the Derwent’s eastern shore at what is now Risdon Cove. Its purpose was to a be a place where Nineteenth Century Britain could send its convict population and a defence against possible French colonial intentions in the region. Fresh water was a problem and after approximately twelve months the settlement was moved to its present location because of what Lieutenant-Governor David Collins described as ‘a run of clear, fresh water’ flowing down off of Mount Wellington (kunanyi, Unghbanyahletta or Poorawetter in the local aboriginal languages) into the River Derwent. The settlement, initially known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, was named after Lord Hobart, the then Colonial Secretary. From 1804 to the 1860’s the rivulet was Hobart’s primary source of drinking water, drain and sewer. Industry quickly established itself upon its bank using the force of the descending water to power the factories. In 1816 Robert Nash, was a miller who was convicted of breaking and entering (or B and E in the parlance) and had his death sentence commuted in favour of transportation for life to Norfolk Island and was then lucky enough to earn a full pardon and be moved to Hobart, established a flour mill near the Gore Street Weir. The mill had a short working life due to the high costs of maintenance and was closed in 1818 to be replaced by a windmill.


Hobart Rivulet
The site of one of the many sluices that were used to control the flow of the water so it could power the many factories that had set up on the banks of the Rivulet.


Milton House
Milton was originally the residence of George Wilson who settled in Hobart in 1831 with his family. Wilson opened Hobart’s first tobacconist and snuff shop. The house is a good example of Georgian colonial architecture.


After walking just over 500m you can see a rather nice specimen of colonial Georgian architecture on you right hand side. Milton House was originally built on a one acre allotment which was originally granted to George Wilson soon after his arrival in Hobart Town 1831. George Wilson was born in England in 1801 and he was, by trade, a tobacconist and snuff maker in partnership with H.B.Tonkin. Wilson was on his way to Sydney in 1831 with his wife and two daughters, but during his stopover in Hobart he was so taken with the colony that he decided to settle in Hobart. A few years later his partner arrived from England and they set up the first tobacco and snuff shop in Tasmania. Owning the colony’s first baccy shop was obviously a nice little earner for George.


Mount Wellington
Just before reaching Wynard Street you get the first uninterupted view of Mount Wellington.

At the 1Km point you get the first uninterrupted views of the summit of Mount Wellington if the weather is cooperating. By 1820 there were four or five tanneries operating along this stretch of the Rivulet. Leather was an essential commodity in the colony and was used not only for saddles, horse tack, belts, and shoes it also was used to replace metal in the manufacture of buckets and hinges amongst other things. Leather tanning is a water intensive process and after it was finished with it was returned to the Rivulet along with the tanning agents it had dissolved. Now there is only one tannery in existence which supplies leather to Blundstone the Tasmanian boot maker.


Hobart Rivulet Park
Until the 1860s Hobart Rivulet was the main source of fresh water for the new settlement and so the colony grew up along its banks.

Walk past the C3 Church complex, or if you’re in need have a drink at the Rivulet Cafe (open Monday to Fridays between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm) and on to Degraves Street. Here on your right is the Cascades Female Factory. Back in the penal colony days the male prisoners were segregated from the female ones and initially the women were held at the Macquarie Street Gaol. This was only seen as a temporary arrangement and the facility soon became over crowded. Between 1788 and 1853 around 12,000 women were shipped to Tasmania, mostly for what we would now consider petty crime and anti-social behaviour. But in 1823 it was a big problem and the Cascades Female Factory was set up as a workhouse and it remained in operation until 1856. There is not much left of the original buildings, just the matron’s cottage really, but it is worth going in and having a look. Take the tour and learn about what happened to these poor women and the depravations they lived with while there.


Cascades Female Factory
The entrance to the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart. The factory was essentially a workhouse where female convicts were held, educated, put to work and finally placed in indentured labour for the term of their prison sentence.


Cascades Female Factory
Just inside the main gate of the Yard 1. The guide is explaining what happened when the women first walked through the gates. This is where the women would be processed. The words on the wall are descriptions of the prisoners taken from their prison records.


Cascades Female Factory
The matrons quarters at the Cascades Female Factory. Originally built in 1850 the it was a simple four room cottage. Three of the rooms were assigned to the matron – the parlour, bedroom, and kitchen – the fourth was used messengers. It is the only surviving building from the convict era on the site.
Cascades Female Factory
The parlour of the matron’s cottage in the Cascades Female Factory.

On leaving the Female Factory keep walking up Degraves Street until you get to Cascade Gardens and the Cascades Brewery. The brewery was opened in 1832 as an adjunct to the Macintosh and Degraves Sawmills. The early history of the venture would probably make the basis of a good TV drama. Hugh Macintosh was a retired East India Company officer who migrated to Australia in 1824 with his brother-in-law Peter Degraves. Degraves was a bit of a rotter and scoundrel being a thief and an undischarged bankrupt. The law catches up with Degraves and from 1826 to 1832 he ends up in debtors prison. Macintosh does the right thing by him and dissolves the partnership and pays out the debts and then moves to New Norfolk to farm. Degraves on his release takes over running the brewery. All fairly amicable and straight forward at this stage. Unfortunately Hugh Macintosh dies in 1834 and his share in the business passes to his son William who was in Madras, India. The dastardly Degraves offers to buy William’s inheritance off of him and run the booming business himself. Degraves reneges on the deal and poor William dies a pauper in 1840. Degraves rewrote the history of the firm saying that he was the sole founder of the company and that remained that until 2011 when historian Greg Jefferys discovered the truth. The brewery is now owned by Fosters and produces a range of beers, homebrew, apple cider and non-alcoholic beverages including apple juice, blackcurrant syrup and carbonated beverages. The brewery has a visitor’s centre and runs two tours: the brewery tour which takes you round the brewery and have a tasting; the heritage tour takes you round the gardens and museum and it is more family orientated.


Cascade Gardens
Cascade Gardens. Autumn is probably one of the best times to do the walk as the tree leaves start turning a wonderful golden colour.


Cascade Brewery
Australia’s oldest brewery situated near the Rivulet, the stream that was the reason Hobart was built.


Cascade Brewery
Cascade Brewery


Go West* – part 1

Derwent River
New Norfolk is situated on the banks of the Derwent River 32 Km north west of Hobart.


As you drive out of Hobart and past New Norfolk and you start to hit the upper reaches of the River Derwent and the landscape starts to become a little greener and looks more fertile. Thirty two kilometres north west of Hobart is New Norfolk which is the gateway for the region and it worth having a walk around before heading on up the valley. It was one of the first colonial towns and was originally settled by 163 people who were resettled from Norfolk Island in 1807. The town was originally called Elizabeth Town but the name was changed in 1825 to New Norfolk in honour of their former home. The town has Tasmania’s oldest Anglican church (St. Matthews built in 1823) and Australia’s oldest and continually used hotel – The Bush Inn, whose licence was first granted on 29 September 1825. There are other building that date back to this period. There is also a very pleasant scenic walk along the banks of the river at The Esplanade.

The Esplanade
There is a scenic walk along the banks of the Derwent River in New Norfolk which walks through oak trees and poplars and gives good views up the river valley.


Derwent River
Derwent River at New Norfolk


St Peters Gate
The gateway to the Catholic parish church of St Peters in New Norfolk,Tasmania.


The Old Colony Inn
The Old Colony Inn, originally built in 1815 as a hop shed and in 1835 it was extended to the building you see today which opperates as accomodation and a restaurant.


When we got to Westerway things took a familiar turn. I spent part of my childhood in the “garden of England” as the county of Kent is sometimes called, and in particular a village called Hawkhurst, it was the English countryside at its most bucolic and it was character was shaped by the growing of a very particular crop that shaped both the landscape and the architecture. The crop was hops, used in brewing beer, and they are grown in a very particular way in sheltered hedged fields. The architecture was dominated by oasthouses which were used to dry the hops after they had been picked. When I was a kid I could look out of my bedroom window and see the hop fields and there was an oasthouse in the distance. The crop at that time was picked by hand by teams of itinerant pickers who came down from London in late summer and early autumn. It was like something out of the HE Bates novel Darling Buds of May (trivia alert – it was the TV adaptation of that novel which launched the career of Catherine Zeta Jones). Well as you drive through Bushy Park you could be mistaken for being in an Ossiefied Kent for it is one of the last areas in Tasmania to commercially grow hops. The fields look just the same, however, the oasthouses are not made out of flint and brick, and the crop is harvested by machine, but it was a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Bushy Park  Estate Hop Farm
Bushy Park Estate Hop Farm. Hops are a climbing plant, they are trained to grow up trellises made from strings or wires that support the plants. They are planted in rows about six to eight feet apart. Each spring the roots send forth new bines. that are started up strings from the ground to an overhead trellis.


Hops and Blackberries
Hops and blackberries, you could be almost forgiven for thinking you were in Kent, England, rather than the Derwent Valley in Tasmania.


The Upper Derwent United Hall
The Upper Derwent United Hall, the building was erected in 1911 on land donated by Vincent Shoobridge. A landmark in the local community, the hall has served many purposes over the years. Today it hosts a community market and is home to the Upper Derwent Anglers as well as the Oddfellows Lodge.


Hops are essential for the brewing of beer as they give the characteristic bitter flavour and they were introduced to Tasmania to reduce the consumption of rum. In the Nineteenth Century alcoholic drinks were drunk all through the day, partly because of the lack of safe drinking water and partly to numb people out to the harsh realities of life. In colonial Australia rum was actually used as a currency and huge profits were made, so beer was thought to be a better drink because it was less alcoholic, could be made easily, and it would break the monopoly of the rum barons. Hops were first planted by Colonel Paterson in his garden at Port Dalrymple in 1804, but it was William Shoebridge in 1822 that made the big breakthrough that made them a viable crop in Tasmania. Ebenezer Shoebridge, William’s son, went to the Derwent Valley in 1852 and then established Bushy Park Estate in 1864. Today, although not owned by the Shoebridges anymore it is considered one of the world’s best hop producers and grows enough to flavour 1 billion litres of beer. That’s a lot of beer! The harvest starts in early March and can take about a month to complete. If you aren’t in a rush a look around Bushy Park at the fields and the hop museum in the local hall. The hall also has a bit of a market that sells local produce.

* The title for this blog post is inspired by the Pet Shop Boys hit “Go West”, which was originally written and performed by The Village People. I prefer this version and particularly like the imagery of the video. The song’s title is attributed to the nineteenth century quote “Go West, young man” commonly attributed to Horace Greeley, a rallying cry for the colonization of the American West.

It’s Still Raining


Well in my last entry I said that it was raining and a week or so later it still is. The talk in the vast wheat belt metropolis that is York is all about rain gauges and how much has fallen in the last 24 hours. Serious stuff round these parts are rain gauges. We at Paul Amyes Photography (PAP) Towers don’t have a rain gauge as Frida, my bull terrier, ate it and so we’re now no longer able to participate in conversations about precipitation but just have to listen and nod sagely.


Lady Baron Falls in Mount Field National Park, Tasmania. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens.


Speaking of things rain, this neatly segues  into rain forests – notably the temperate rain forests of Tasmania. Before I went to Tasmania the only experience I’d had of rain forest was of the tropical variety which have voracious thirsty insects the size of small helicopters making you anaemic and the heat and humidity has you drowning in your own sweat. So the temperate rainforest came as quite a nice surprise. Cool temperate rainforest is characterised by an open and verdant, cathedral-like quality; a silent, cool, dark and damp place where both the trunks of trees and the forest floor are festooned with a luxuriant carpet of mosses and lichens. The first of these forests we encountered was at St Columba Falls, which is really just a short walk to the base of the waterfall which is quite impressive. But the best bit for me was walking along the creek amongst the myrtle (Nothofagus cunninghamii) and  tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) and rock hoping on the boulders in the stream. The creek is home to duck-billed platypuses (platypi?) and they make their burrows in the banks but we didn’t see any. This heavily forested area was once home to the thylacines, commonly called the Tasmanian Tigers, which was once Australia’s largest carnivorous marsupial and has been listed as “presumed extinct” since 1986, fifty years after the last documented thylacine died at Hobart Zoo in 1936. There have been some 4,000 reported sightings of thylacines over the past 50 years, many in the north-east region and St Columba Falls was the scene of one famous 1995 sighting, when a local ranger reported spotting a tiger sitting on a rock ledge near the falls. It is very easy to imagine that this incredibly primeval environment could be home to the last of almost mythological creatures.


Russell Falls in Mount Field National Park. Tasmania. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens.


The next place we experienced the rain forest was in Mount Field National Park. The park is one of Tasmania’s oldest national parks and within its boundaries has a number of different ecosystems ranging from temperate rain forest, eucalyptus forest and alpine heath. The rain forest is located in the lower reaches of the park and probably the most visited area as there are a series of short easy walks that take you to such features as Russell falls, Horseshoe Falls, Lady Baron Falls and Pandani Grove. There is an excellent campsite within the park which allows visitors the opportunity to stay for a few days to really explore. True to its name – rainforest it was raining and my gore-tex was completely overwhelmed by the rain and I was soaked through to the skin. The sights and sounds were overwhelming. The sound of flowing water was never far away and this quickly turned into a roar as we approached the water falls. The tree ferns towered above us, I had always associated ferns with being pot plants and seeing these altered my perception. The tree trunks are so covered in lichens and mosses it is like they have a green fur coat on. These forests are the last remnants of those found the supercontinent of Gondwana and date back an incredible 110 million years. Again like Columba Falls this area was home to the thylacine and the last known wild one was captured in the park in 1933.


A particularly moth-eaten stuffed thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, in the Tasmanian state museum.


St Columba Falls State Reserve


Photographically speaking these were quite challenging conditions. Firstly under the tree canopy not a lot of light reaches the forest floor so high ISO and or tripods are the order of the day. Occasionally you’ll frame up a scene that has a small clearing which allows sunlight to shine through and this plays havoc with your metering as the highlights in the clearing to shadow can exceed 13 or 14 stops far beyond what any camera sensor or film (if you’re old school) can record. If you meter for the shadow the highlights are lost forever, and if you meter for the highlights the shadows block up. I’m quite addicted to HDR photography at the moment (as if you hadn’t noticed!) so I was easily able to overcome those problems. The other problem is that there is a fair amount of moisture in the air especially near the waterfalls. I don’t baby my equipment at all, and have never cocooned my equipment in plastic and have never had a problem. The was beads of water forming or condensation on the front element of the lens. The only solution is to keep wiping this off with a lens cloth. I was wearing shirts by Rohan and one of the ingenious features of these shirts is that on the shirt tail on the button edge they have sewn in a lens cloth. They market the feature for glasses wearers but I reckon it is great for photographers. It means I can never lose my lens cloth as nearly every shirt I have has one built in. Brilliant!


St Columba Falls State Reserve (295 ha), where the cascading waters of St Columba Falls plunge nearly 90 m from the Mt Victoria foothills to the valley of the South George River.A short walking track through a forest of tree ferns, sassafras and myrtle takes you to the falls. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.17mm F2.8 lens.



Why I Love Tasmania

On the last weekend of our trip to Tasmania we got the weekend paper and saw they were running a video competition on the theme “Why I Love Tasmania”. Bugger! If I’d known I would have taken a lot more kit, recorded in 1080, used an external recorder with better microphones and written a proper story board and script. Why didn’t I find out about this at the beginning of the trip.  Ah well I thought you’ve got to be in it to win it and I put together a short video with what I had shot on my Olympus EP-2 with the SEMA-1 mic which is only marginally better than the built in camera mic, and the four lenses that I always carry when on holiday – the Olympus 17mm f2.8, the 12-50mm f3.5-6.3, the 40-150mm f4-5.6 and the 60mm f2.8 macro. This trip was the first trip I’d taken my tripod, thankfully with a fluid head, and my video monopod (which I happen to think is one of the best accessories I have bought for doing run and gun video). In my wildest dreams I don’t expect to do well in the competition let alone win it, but it was a bit of a larff doing it and it was good experience to work to a deadline on a project.