Walking the New Town Rivulet

Somehow it took me over a year to get to posting about this trail, but now we’re here..
Starting at New Town Bay, east of Moonah on Marine Esplanade, it’s possible to follow the New Town Rivulet upstream  through it’s natural and occasionally engineered path through the suburban jungle towards Mount Wellington.

At 7.5 km it’s rated at a 2 hour walk with Greater Hobart Trails, but hey, give yourself a little time and take a camera – as you’ll see, it’s worth it!

The track begins with a landscaped garden by the shore.

New Town Bay

New Town Bay

Following the Marine Esplanade west, you’ll see a massive storm water outlet, which is the terminus of the rivulet. Cross the highway to Risdon Road and things begin to get interesting. An ancient channel funnels the rivulet by the roadside, clumped with old bricks and concrete, old water pipes jut out from the ground amidst graffiti and driveways rolling into shaded gardens. The rivulet and track curl away from the road into the midst of middle-class surburbia. Wilmslow Avenue will lead you on into the grounds of New Town High School.

Adjacent to New Town High School

The creekside brush becomes a warren of beaten dirt trails, bridges with glimpses into the neighbourhood with fleeting wildlife hiding in the trees. The track continues by wooden walkways sequestered behind houses, meeting streets to take to the pavement, and dirt roadside trails.

One of the more interesting sights on Creek Rd is always the grounds of Castle Zayee, a Chinese restaurant nestled by the hillside in a heavily stylised building, complete with a bridge and a would-be moat.

Creek Road continues on to meet with John Turnbull Park (mostly a sports ground), and down into Lenah Valley.

Alongside Lenah Valley Road

In terms of the simple beauty of the surroundings, Lenah Valley is by far my favourite suburb in Hobart. To the south tall resplendent hills sit against the skyline, a parade of houses cascade down amidst tall, heavy trees. Shaded walking tracks scamper between the streets.

These falls and underpass sit by a roadside park at 346 Lenah Valley Rd

The main road and track span the length of the shady bottom of the valley, weaving to either side of the street and into a natural reserve behind an array of houses. This is a great place to explore, either diving through the brush or following the creekbed where there are huge rock platforms burnished by years of water flow. It’s possible to navigate down and follow parts of the creekbed, where you can sit right beside the water –  it’s peaceful and the surroundings are overgrown enough that you may as well be in a forest, rather than sitting in the suburb of a major city.

As the street begins to climb towards Wellington Park, the track diverts into parkland, passing the Lady Franklin Gallery, which is managed by the Art Society of Tasmania. Regular exhibitions and workshops are held here by members and are often open to the public.

Following the rivulet off the main track, towards Wellington Park

There are opportunities for the nimble to follow the rivulet beneath the road, where more rock formations provide small-scale waterfalls for great photo opportunities. The track climbs towards Wellington Park, and with it, the suburb peters out into a winding narrow road, the rivulet growing to a river, the roadside brush becoming open forest. At the end the of the road, another walking track begins where sunny lawns introduce the beginning of Wellington Park.

Getting there

Given it’s a patchy trek of sidewalk, and nature trail,  heading through several parks and along several streets and roads, it really depends where you’d like to start!

To begin from the shore at Marine Esplanade, it’s far easier to drive, and there’s usually ample parking space either here or along the nearby Queens Walk. (For another day trip, check out Cornelian Bay nearby!)

The public bus service (Metro Tasmania) has major routes intersecting, if not following many parts of the track, including Queens Walk (adjacent to Marine Esplanade), Creek Road, beside New Town Highschool, and through Lenah Valley. Google Maps is (as usual) a far better option for transit information.

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GASP! Elwick Bay

MONA may be the first and last attraction you’ll hear about when visiting Tasmania. An eccentricity of modern art in form and function, the art gallery was built on the shores of the river Derwent by local millionaire David Walsh. A deceptive single storey building hides a labyrinthine showcase of dark, challenging, and often fun works in the bowels of a sandstone peninsula.

In concert with local and national government, a walking track was unveiled on nearby shoreline. GASP (Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park) is a distinct outdoor setting designed for the exhibition of outdoor works, freely accessible to the public.
N.b. When I visited, there was simply a sign stating the existence of one sound exhibition, which is active for one week in early January.

The GASP trail is a short walk, so I decided to set out from my home in Mount Stuart to make a two hour trek through the suburbs.

I diverted onto the intercity cycleway, a shared project between the Hobart and Glenorchy local municipal councils. The 15 km track hugs the train lines from the piers of Salamanca to the outskirts of Hobart’s conjoined twin Glenorchy. A majority of the cycleway is a stretch of long, flat shadeless concrete: a narrow stretch of fenced boardwalk facing the crumbling rears of Hobart’s homes and businesses. It is not all bad, though.. there are a few views worth taking in, especially towards the city.

montrosemap

Check out the Rosetta surrounds on Google Maps

I rejoined the main road at Rosetta and followed an underpass into Berriedale. My phone had somehow lost it’s charge already so at first I was wandering, a little confused. Main Road rejoins the highway on the eastern side of this underpass, but you need to actually follow the side of the highway to find the track beginning just before Montrose Bay High School.

The track follows Islet Rivulet, sharing ground with the highschool towards the shoreline. Dozens of sea birds crowded the grounds, with views to the north of MONA’s ferry terminal and a deceptive drab exterior view of the museum.

The highschool has erected signs detailing the plight and rejuvenation of local plant and animal life. Warning signs sprout from the ground guarding against those who might swim in the dangerous waters or eat from the polluted river. (Apparently two larger fish per week is the safe limit for consumption. Personally, I’d rather not gamble with mercury poisoning.)

The walking track snakes in an intentionally picturesque fashion around the shoreline, passing dilapidated wooden jetties, a yacht club, and barbecue sites swamped with families enjoying the summer heat. Tall trees throw shade across well-kept lawns.

An open shelter in MONA’s trademark neutral colours declares the opening of GASP. Coloured walkways cross the shallow waters of the shoreline in an extended shallow curve passing the Derwent Entertainment Centre. Unkempt grounds of split concrete, wild grasses, and disused jetties marr the surrounding landscape, but the grasses surrounding the immediate track are well-kept, the mountainous backdrop and MONA’s curious pseudo-buildings have a habit of drawing your attention.

At the end of the track, a large luminous shelter declares itself property of the community. Coloured walls throw unearthly light into GASP’s dark interior. The gorgeous surroundings have been framed with care within the interior of an open shelter cum architectural art piece.

Circling the building, I met a fisherman balancing three rods on the pavement. Eager to converse, he introduced himself.

‘You don’t eat from the river, do you?’ I asked.

‘No, no.. Do I look crazy? Don’t answer that. No, I’d be dead. Everyone asks me that.’

He opens a fish to demonstrate the way mercury collects against the spine and discolours the meat. It’s for bait, he explains, he takes it out on a boat to catch bigger, healthier fish.

A boat flies past, water skier in tow, disrupting his fishing. ‘Arrgh, fuck off!’ the fisherman cries.

I notice Bowen Bridge across the water (visible beyond the jetty.) In 1975, a ship named Lake Illawara collided with pylons of Hobart’s Tasman Bridge, collapsing a large portion and sending five cars plummeting onto the ship and into the river below. With 30% of Hobart’s population stranded on the western side of the river, the smaller Bowen Bridge was created upriver, as an alternate route to inhibit the impact of any future disasters.

I wandered back from Elwick Bay into Glenorchy and caught a bus to return home.. but for everyone else:

Getting there

If you’d like to combine a picturesque walking track with a MONA experience, GASP would be the most accessible. It is only a 15 minute walk from the museum buildings. MONA is also the easiest point of reference for access: transport options include helicopter, ferry, private or public bus, private taxi services, walk, or cycle. In this case, I am going to palm you off to MONA’s directions.

To arrive at the walking track proper, set a course for the Montrose Bay High School (865 Brooker Hwy, Glenorchy) and look for surrounding footpaths.865 Brooker Hwy, Glenorchy

Wellington Park Adventures: Fern Tree to The Springs

I am going to take the risk of covering old ground today, and commit a bit of self-plagiarism, because I’ve walked some of this path before.

Fern Tree is the lustrous forested home of Hobart’s Pinnacle Road, which leads to the summit of Mount Wellington. It’s also the site of a dozen myriad tracks that start most treks into Wellington Park and the eponymous mountain.

I caught the bus into Fern Tree from the Hobart CBD, getting off at Fern Tree’s tavern and wandering into the forest. The first segment of the Pipeline Track heads towards the modest Silver Falls.

The trail is interrupted by thick water pipes and pumping stations, disrupting the serene forest surroundings. The path is fairly level and wide here, suitable for walkers of any age. At the Fern Tree Bower, signs beside the decaying remains of a building depict the location as a once popular picnic location for genteel folk, when Hobart was still a young British colony.

A shallow incline led further through the forest to Silver Falls. A steel bridge crosses a pool in front of a modest waterfall, the scene a clash of man-made trappings versus tumultuous forest surroundings. Signs and a locked gate interrupt a small path by the top of the waterfall, declaring it a restricted area for city water collection.

The Pipeline Track diverts east onto Silver Falls Track. Skipping the advertised route, I headed north taking a steep climb on Reids Track (as opposed to the Middle Island trail) to meet Radfords track, and onwards to The Springs.

The Springs is a parking and rest area a short distance up the mountain featuring access to many walking tracks which cross the mountain, toilets, and the site of The Springs Hotel which was destroyed in the Hobart bushfires of 1967. I thought I might head a little further into the site and inspect the remains.

After taking a coffee with Meg at her Bentwood Coffee caravan (expensive, but decent!) I wandered back down Radfords track towards Fern Tree, to head home.

Getting there

Fern Tree sits on the old road to Kingston, from Hobart. It’s a 15 minute drive by car, alternatively public bus services (Metro Tasmania) pass through every 20 minutes to an hour, dawn to dusk. For more information on Wellington Park, including maps of the various walking tracks, I recommend the official Wellington Park website.

Sydney: Madame Tussaud’s, Sea Life Aquarium, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

So for all my enthusiasm about Sydney, I have to report that my trip did not go according to plan. My second night in Sydney, I didn’t sleep at all. Laying in bed at 7 am facing the second day of the conference at 8 am, I was sure there was no way I was going to make the top 15 and win a two month stay to work on my entrepreneurial idea.

To re-cap: I was in town thanks to Telstra and their Imaginarium initiative: to bring 80 young, bright idea-generating individuals together to develop ideas for the development and enhancement of the lives of young Australians. Of course, at the end of the day it is a show for branding, both to encourage leaders loyal to the Telstra name, and to sell the image of Telstra being a valued community member as much as a telecommunications monopoly.

I won my place among the 80 with a simple forex investment scheme based upon Bitcoin, but coming to the conference, the terms seemed to be geared towards direct social change. When analysing generational issues of western society, I see education as holding key potential for improvement. Specifically, the way we throw kids into a procedural, institutional learning environment that has for many of us seemed soul-sucking, draining us of that very drive towards learning and creating that we should be nurturing.

We could solve this easily, I suggested. By reshaping education with student-directed learning, facilitated by technology (and considering this was a Telstra conference) presenting it as something that could be funded and assisted by industry mentors. Delivering inspiration and tangible, believable goals to satisfy kid’s dreams and parent’s pragmatism. Unfortunately I’m not sure I delivered it as well, in person.

Following the sleepless night, I caught what sleep I could through the second morning and made alternative plans.

Researching the top-rated attractions in Sydney, I found the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium, the Sydney Tower Eye: Sydney’s tallest building and the second tallest observation deck in the southern hemisphere, and Madame Tussauds. It happens that these, along with two others fall under the banner of the Merlin Entertainment Group, a global tourism operator: for $69 a single adult can access five local attractions within the space of a few days, saving $380. Why not, right?

I’d been advised by a family member to be sure to go on the ferry from the Sydney CBD to Manly at least once. The views didn’t disappoint: it was on this trip that I caught the photos from my first post on Sydney.

There are many options for crossing the river by boat, with many private operators among the public ferry service departing from Circular Quay, which is a just a few minutes walk from the CBD. The trip takes 30 minutes by the slowest ferry, and costs just $7 with an Opal card.  (The local public transport smartcard.)

Departing from Circular Quay, the F1 chugs out of the harbour, giving outstanding views of the central city, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and then the wooded hills, islands, and surrounding suburbs. Departing into the ferry terminal, you’re faced with a mall of fast food restaurants opening onto a lively modern beach, crowded with restaurants and sight-seers.

The Manly Sea Life Sanctuary is a 5 minute walk from the ferry terminal. The building looks less impressive than you might expect: an odd squat building with a spherical dome sitting against a nearby hill. But then, it’s bigger on the inside. A circular maze descends into a small network of tunnels exhibiting an assortment of local sea life. Signs tell an exhaustive tale of attempts to protect the local sea life from eradication by human causes.
Loudspeakers announced the imminent feeding of the Sanctuary’s Little Penguins. The crowd ascends into the sunlit dome at the top of the building where an effervescent narrator entertains the crowd as the penguins are hand-fed.

Overall, I found the Manly Sanctuary underwhelming-  it is not a large aquarium, and unless one is buying an attraction pass like I did, you might better spend your money elsewhere.

That said – for a premium (which I wasn’t prepared to pay) the Sanctuary does offer a chance to dive among sharks, turtles, and stingrays.

The Sea Life Aquarium, Madame Tussaud’s, and Wildlife Sydney Zoo open onto Aquarium Wharf (a 20 minute walk or ferry from Circular Quay), also adjacent to the city. The wharf is an attraction in itself: kilometres of boardwalk lined with boats, sea birds, restaurants, museums et. al

These three are definitely the major family attractions with queues of a dozen at most times. Tussaud’s is a museum of art like no other. Wander through a maze of themed rooms, where you might find Michael Jackson standing by a shining stage wall on one side opposite Steve Irwin frozen in enthusiasm, against the backdrop of Australia’s sunburnt outback. It was staggering at times, walking into a room which was not truly crowded by people: but the figures are so lifelike, that you may find yourself excusing Mahatma Gandhi as you step past him, before doing a double-take as you realise you’ve just spoken to a wax figure.

The Sea Life Aquarium, it seems, I’m missing photos for, which is depressing. I can tell you that it is like most I have experienced: a lengthy trek up and down walkways, through rooms with large, curved walls and subterranean water tunnels. Amidst all of this are exhibitions behind glass of every sea creature you might imagine..

The Sydney Tower Eye is the most difficult to locate, but possibly the most rewarding. In the central CBD on Pitt St, lies Westfield Sydney, a glossy mall no doubt intentionally difficult to navigate. Few signs by the walls lead a path towards the tower’s entrance on an upper level. Passing through tacky reception area, you’re handed 3D glasses followed by a long wait. Every 20 minutes or so, a short 3D film is shown, showcasing helicopter angles of Sydney complete with a vibrating floor.. before another long wait in a queue of dozens which are packed (excuse the cliche, but it’s true) like sardines to be shot towards the sky.

I entered the Tower proper not long before closing. The lights were turned down, the small cafe closed, but a thriving assortment of families circled the apex. Fixed binoculars distracted from wide windows overlooking the CBD and the hills beyond, in 360 degrees. Sitting by the windows, one could look down upon Hyde Park, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the bustling streets below. Vehicles and pedestrians were transformed into the picture of a thriving ecosystem of thoroughly organised ants. It made me think about the nature of humanity: the egoist consciousness of the individual, striving to achieve so much for themselves, so often desperate to be important or recognised, if not apathetic in their recognition of the futility of their desire. Sitting in such a tower works as a small-scale demonstration of the habits of life (even with an organism as complex as humans) to form structures, patterns, although invisible in their massive complexity to the individual, the hints are so easily visible from such a scale.

I should make an honorable mention to Maze Backpackers, for cheap but decent accommodation in the heart of the city. The staff were overall friendly, welcoming, and helpful. The WiFi was cheap and reliable, and the amenities predominantly clean. It was, I’ll admit, my first stay in backpacker accommodation, so my expectations may have been greater than they should have been – my lack of sleep on the first night came down to the noise of those on working holidays, enjoying their weekend. Something to keep in mind.

Kingston and Boronia Beach

Closer to the mouth of the Derwent River lies Kingston, one of the larger outlying towns on the road towards the bottom of Tasmania. On the coastal road from Hobart and Sandy Bay sits Taroona, featuring the shot tower, the Alum Cliffs track, and Bonnet Hill. At the end of these trails, five minutes from central Kingston lies the tiny suburb of Kingston Beach: Hobart’s worst kept secret for the summer months.

A small park with a footbridge guards the opening to the western side of the beach. The Alum Cliffs track begins ascending hills to the left, the sand beneath it leading to the first of the cliffs.

IMGP3669 Panorama

East across the shoreline, a boardwalk and sunny white beach stretch towards the next forested hillside. On the day I came to shoot, hundreds lined the shore and to be honest, I wasn’t yet brave enough to capture the crowd.

Following the shoreline one passes a number of restaurants and holiday accommodation, directly opposite the beach. A crowd of revellers sit upon the deck of the Kingston Beach Sailing Club. At the eastern edge, a rocky path is carved around the side of the hill towards the serene cliffs of Boronia Beach.

According to Greater Hobart Trails, Boronia Beach takes it’s name from a private residence lying behind the beach, which was once the Boronia Hotel circa. 1900.

Getting there
Kingston and it’s beaches are accessible by car, a mere 20 mins from Hobart. Alternatively, public bus services (Metro Tasmania) run every hour from dawn to dusk. Cottage accommodation lines the beach. I can’t speak to the quality but they would be my first choice for a stay in Kingston.

Bridgewater Foreshore Trail

This walking track lies towards the entrance of Hobart, following 5.2 km (3.2 mi) of coastline along the Derwent River.  On the day I walked through, the swampy shoreline was occupied by several fishermen who seemed to find my taking landscape photos an odd profession. Meanwhile they’re fishing in a polluted river..

Bridgewater lies central to the outer suburbs of Hobart, of which several have a reputation for being dangerous to loiter in, though, honestly, the more I hear of supposed dangerous suburbs in Australia, the more from experience and local knowledge, I dismiss it. Just be mindful of your surroundings and be cautious in new areas. If you’re going somewhere different or dangerous, let someone know 🙂

The land views are sparse and desolate on the local side of the river, but as usual, views across the Derwent of the surrounding suburbs, hills, and mountains are majestic.

Watch for snakes in the warmer weather. I came within centimetres of stepping on a 1 metre+ long snake which was lurking the unkempt grasses.

According to Greater Hobart Trails there are two picnic areas along the trail, though I don’t recall them. You won’t find any facilities on this trail, just a hot gravel path and most likely relative solitude.

Getting there

The track is accessible from a majority of the streets along the greater route.  For the full trek, locate parking on Gunn St and follow the track to the bridge crossing the Jordan River.

Map courtesy of Greater Hobart Trails

Map courtesy of Greater Hobart Trails

The track is predominantly level and easy to access, suitable for families or the casual walker

The Tahune Airwalk

Hello, my fellow aliens! It’s been a while. Another semester is closing for me at university so I finally have time to catch up. Last summer, a friend hired me to drive his mother and her companion on a short tour about Tasmania. I stowed my camera for most of the trip (for some reason), but when we visited the Tahune Airwalk it seems I couldn’t resist pulling it out.

En route to the AirWalk, my guests opted to stop at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin. The centre exists as a combination shipbuilding school and minor tourist attraction, offering an engaging history of Franklin’s boating enterprises.. reportedly. While our guests were getting a guided tour, a friend and I lounged in the sun, and I took the opportunity to shoot a section of the Huon River.

But this post was supposed to be about the Airwalk, right?

The Tahune Airwalk is situated 88 km south of Hobart on the eastern edge of Tasmania’s massive expanse of protected national parks. These world heritage areas account for almost 20% of the island and are host to a number of unique species of flora and fauna. (For more information on the national parks, feel free to check out the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service.)

Crossing the Huon River at the beginning of the AirWalk track

Crossing the Huon River at the beginning of the AirWalk track

The Airwalk offers a dramatic exposure to the spectacular forest views for which Tasmania is so highly regarded. Among the attractions hosted is Airwalk itself, which encompasses a 50 minute stroll in natural forest, boasting Huon Pines and 619 metres of arterial walkway which leads you literally above the treetops. The highlight appears at the end: the cantilever, a walkway hanging 48 metres above the ground, exhibiting majestic views of the Huon River and the forest beyond.

My companions opted for the guided tour. After paying our entry fees (free for any Tasmanian with a paying companion), a short wait transformed our AirWalk trek into an informative experience. Our guide pointed out and provided information on a range of plants and animals native to Tasmania, exploring the history and construction of the AirWalk itself, and was notably patient for and mindful of the variable ages in our tour group.

The group was somewhat timid but excited and reassured as they stepped out onto the cantilever, snapping photos and marvelling at the views.

On the close of the tour, our group took the guide’s suggestion to embark on the Swinging Bridges walk. A further one hour trek meandered through the untouched forest crossing two narrow suspension bridges, each swaying and flexing as we bounded just feet above the wide Huon and Picton rivers. A few minutes past the bridges lies the ruins of a house which was occupied by a former Irish convict and policeman, Francis McPartlan, whom was employed to inspect timber licenses in the days of Tasmania’s colonisation.

Now, after doing all of this talking it up I have to admit that if you really want to see Tasmanian forest.. well, there’s plenty of free landscape to explore, but for the casual visitor, driving to and experiencing the Tahune Airwalk is a safe, pleasant and packaged experience exhibiting some of the serene and warm forest scenery for which Tasmania holds such great renown.

Other attractions include the 20 minute Huon Pine loop walk, which features access to specimens of the eponymous tree. These are a very slow growing and often ancient tree, endemic to the wilds of south-western Tasmania. (The eldest located have been estimated at being 10,500 years old.) The wood is prized for it’s golden hue and fine grain, it’s sweet scent, and the properties of it’s oils, which are notably resistant to rotting. The Huon Pine is, however, illegal to harvest in Tasmania. Early logging thinned many of the eldest trees and a strong environmental movement maintains staunch opposition to ‘old-growth’ logging in Tasmania’s wilderness areas.

A friend tells me of the terrifying thrill of the Cable Eagle Hang Glider, which unfortunately I missed for myself. An automated solo glider will fly you at least 50 metres above the ground, amongst the treetops and across the Huon River. This does come at an additional cost (circa. $15) and is subject to seasonal opening times and minor restrictions.

It’s also worth mentioning the cafe.. which you won’t miss because you’ll need to walk through it. But there are plenty of souvenirs, decent coffee and a display giving a little further history on the Airwalk. Particularly interesting were some dramatic photos of a massive flood which occurred in 2007, disrupting access to the park areas and flooding adjoining picnic grounds.

Staying there

If a few hours in the forest just isn’t enough, there are rooms available. Get lit up in the magic of the forest at night on the treetop walk, and the enjoy the free WiFi at the lodge. There are standard amenities (shared bathroom, kitchen, dining area, movies), and a wood fireplace (a slight irony?), with flexible sleeping arrangements to suit your travelling style. Personally, I can’t speak as to the quality (a friend tells me it’s nice) but I would say that the Geeveston area appears to be a comfortable and relatively central location from which to explore the areas south of Hobart.

Getting there

The Airwalk is 88 km from Hobart, amounting to a 90 minute drive, so it can be easily visited in a day trip. If you’re a visitor to the state, however, I’m certain you’ll want to take your time to appreciate the landscapes and see attractions along the way. Be sure to view the Tahune AirWalk website to be mindful of seasonal changes in opening hours (currently 10 am – 4 pm in the winter), and also check for potential closures due to adverse weather events: Tasmanian weather is known for it’s rapid shifts in temperature!

The Tahune Airwalk is accessible via Arve Road at Geeveston, a small town on the Huon Highway. I recommend calling in to the Forest and Heritage Centre (15 Church St – this town is so small, you won’t miss it!) where you can pre-purchase AirWalk tickets, get further directions, and observe or collect a great deal of information and history on the Geeveston area.

The GPS coordinates for the AirWalk are LAT 43° 5′42.3″S LON 146° 43′47.0″E however, the AirWalk reports GPS and mobile reception are unlikely to be obtained beyond Geeveston, due to the remote location.

If you’re visiting the area, and I can’t even claim to have seen most of these, but the following are highly regarded:
Hastings Caves
Ida Bay Railway
Cockle Creek
Bruny Island
Huonville
The Pancake Train
and while it’s quite a distance from the AirWalk, Snug Falls