Save the Marwah Valley for all to see

 

By an occasional correspondent:

Denis Buchan BSc. MEngSc, past member Institional Engineers Australia

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2) Some of the guys forming a protest committee located in Marwah Valley

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Section 1. The fabulous Marwah Valley- entrance way to Kishtwar National Park

Many of you may be wondering why a foreigner would pick this place the Marwah Valley to write about. Well the fact of the matter is I have been to this valley many times over the last 8 or so years. Before the problems in Kashmir erupted this valley was considered one of the treasured walks linking Kishtwar in Jammu to as far north as Sonamarg or even into Zanskar.

P1040404.JPG The valley is lined with deodar, chinar and walnut trees, wild strawberries, mushrooms and much more. My first visit stunned me as the Marwah river was so beautiful then with no roads and self sufficient villages along the way which still welcomes the few trekkers who venture this way. The government also recognized that the beauty of this area had to be preserved and made the largest national park in J&K Kishtwar National Park.

Perhaps the Indian Government thinks that these people are backward, maybe what one would call an indigenous people. But this is far from the truth. The kids all attend schools and want to learn. They also know how to entertain themselves. We talked about these things many times in my early visits. Yes they definitely needed better facilities for communication. Yes they needed a proper hospital and yes facilities for their schools. To some extent the people overcome these disadvantages as the non farming population spent the colder months in Kishtwar or Jammu.

These disadvantages have existed for a long time and the Government (State as well) should be embarrassed about how little help they have given these people. Strangely enough more money was spent on the Army and Police Force than help with these basic needs. Right up to the present minimum consultation with the people has not occurred. Good communication is a principle of good governance. I talk about these things not because I wish to cast blame but to highlight the ongoing problem leading to protests and more owing to the continuing lack of dialogue over the proposed flooding of the valley under this new proposed hydro-electric scheme.

P1040320.JPG Perhaps now is the time to describe how the combination of the Pakel, Burser dams Hydroelectric scheme is meant to work. There will be two dams built; the one near Akali called the Pakel Dul Dams the one connected to the Power Plant via tunnels. This earth filled dam is quoted as 167 metres high and its headwaters go back as far as Lopara with some of the lower village and prosperous rice paddies thereabouts all being flooded. The other dam is the Burser Dam whose primary function is to maintain a water flow to the Pakel dam when the rivers stopped flowing with the onset of winter. The contact for the Pakel Dam has been awarded to the Chenab Valley Power Project. This is a consortium. The water from the Pakel Dul Dam is delivered through two 7.2 diameter tunnels about 10km long to an underground power station near the village Dul where there are 4 by 250mw turbines to produce the design requirement of 1000mw.

The position of the Burser dam has a mighty impact on the Marwah Valley. The planners have obviously chosen this position because of the large amount of water that will be available. I suspect they didn’t even visit the area with all assessments being done by something like Google maps. It would seem to be the position chosen based on convenience rather than any considerations of what areas are populated.

Come on Council – Let’s do something for our younger generation

Image result for young people building their own home

Image result for young people building their own home

Getting started ; you know putting a roof over your head is almost downright impossible for younger people. This sort of discrimination shouldn’t be allowed to continue. With my generation  you could get started in life more simply than one can do today (sorry to put such an age gap and I will refrain from going down memory lane too much in this story). You could work hard save a bit , buy a piece of land and over the years put a house up and see the benefits of your labour.
Nowadays with the regulatory madness it is almost impossible for a young family to do something for themselves. The costs of land, double  glazing, solar panels, planning applications, home owner builder fees with a general need to have stable employment and much much more. This quagmire makes it virtually impossible for the younger ones to get started unless they have heaps of money. 
So why don’t we give them a bit of encouragement? Why don’t we set up some sort of deal whereby persons under 30 are eligible for a kick start building package coordinated by our Council?
So this is the idea I am putting  on the table. I will try to make it some what definitive so that the reader can see that it is feasible, reasonable and maybe help all of us in the community in ways we can’t imagine at this stage. Definitive ideas but only as I see it. The committees out there that would make this happen can change it as much as they like but the essence of the deal is for us the ratepayers to stand up and say we want something to happen for this generation of people.
Now the package of assistance. Firstly as stated you have to be under a certain age; lets say 30 years and this would eventually be their first home. Secondly you must be limited in assets and income. This proviso is to exclude those who can afford it not being entitled to this assistance. Assets or a permanent job as I have just stated are not particularly necessary to being assisted.The main requirement is that you are prepared to make something in the way of a home through your own effort.
Now the package as I see it would be the provision of a block of land. The municipality is surrounded by State forests and unoccupied land. A number of sites throughout the municipality might be made available. The Council in conjunction with the State should be responsible for securing these blocks. ( If they can’t find anything I would be prepared to chop up our farm) Before allocation each block would be  serviced with power, communication and water and sewerage if available. The council would work with the relevant bodies to encourage them to assist with this package in their area of expertise. For example TasWater might facilitate a water supply to the building site and Aurora likewise poles a meter and power lines. The block would already have a site cleared and meet all relevant building codes including the bushfire code. Lets say three housing plans would be made available at no cost with support from building suppliers including the relevant site plan once the person had chosen the plan he/she liked. In return the applicant would make the building supplier the preferred supplier. (again subject to conditions) The plans would therefore satisfy Council requirements for design and any relevant engineering requirements.

a affordable and typoical small house plan

The plans would be relatively simple to build with no elaborate feature. Maybe 1 to 2 bedrooms, kitchenette/dining area, lounge, bathroom. Provision would be made available for the plan to be extended at the users discretion at some future date when they could afford it. The possible later extension could also be submitted with the original plan so that another application is not necessary at a future date.
To be an eligible candidate for this package the couple must be prepared to build the house themself. To help them  retired tradesmen or other experienced persons  would be invited and assigned at mentors. They might be builders, electricians, plumbers, plasterers tilers or skilled older owner builders. As volunteers their job would be to give the young guys the confidence to get them started. They could be rotated depending on the job requirements or they could just would on the one house until it is finished. They are not meant to do the work but simply to share their experience. I have had mentors on many jobs over the years and it certainly helped. The applicants would also liaison with the Building inspectors provided by the council. The Council staff would be expected to guide the applicants and not place too many hurdles in their way. Each candidate would be expected to undertake the Home Owner Building course which would be provided by the Tafe facility at St. Helens. (It hasn’t happened yet – but would be needed as part of this package).
So how much would the young applicant need. Well I expect most would be eligible for the homeowners grant which is $10,000. As an example the plan shown above is 70m 2 .$50,000 should be more than enough to get the house to lockup stage. So lets assume the applicant needs $40000. At say 5% that amounts to $2000 per annum interest repayment only. I say the applicant could take this sort of financial risk particularly if Council was prepared to be a guarantor. ( there are a number of variables here e.g the principal might be increased to $70000 making the annual interest repayments on $60000 equal to $3000 at 5% but at the going rate of 3.6% this repayment would meet effectively reduce the loan.) These are rough numbers which obviously one can pull apart and make into anything you wanted. But they do point out that the scheme is affordable with this sort of support even if the applicant didn’t have a job at first.
Naturally I have been told that such a scheme wouldn’t be worth pursuing as there is no work for young people in this area. You all would have heard such negative statements being echoed about any worthwhile project that is suggested. I often think that the Conservatives always win as taking no risks means making no losses. If you are on Council or whatever and nothing happens then nothing goes wrong. But is that really true?
Is the Break O’Day municipality going ok or is it disappearing down a sink hole.  It is my opinion that this municipality has missed so many opportunities to make this this place a better place to live.
The education system still seems to be unattractive for senior students. No advantage has been taken to promote the educational activities in this area.There is no ability for students to board in the area. (crazy as this may seem that is what many of our students do when they travel to Launceston or Hobart) Imagine if rowing, surfing

Surf school Scamander Beach

trekking and rockclimbing

rock climbing South Sister

were promoted as part of the school curriculum.
There are no gazetted long distance walks or bicycle paths linking the east coast. There are only a few icons which would get visitors to stay longer in the area. Even Derby shows us up with its world class mountain bike trails built I might add at little cost.
I think many of us have accepted the sink hole philosophy. This is my summation of the reality and my belief is re-inforced with the number of suicides occurring in the area, the amount of instances of drug abuse and of course people feeling depressed. We can’t sweep these things under the carpet we must make changes and take risks.
More work on the package. Discuss its merits, refine what can be achieved and then release it to the public. It would go viral and put Break O’day on the map as a town with a vision for change. Lets say we start with 100 packages. One hundred houses to be built in the first year. If successful then we would repeat it. Two or three hundred people move to the area. For that year we have a significant increase in population using our facilities, buying goods and generally trying to make a life for themselves. These people will be our future. These people will become skilled and if welcomed will want to stay. Lack of jobs is sort of like discussing what came first the chicken or the egg. Jobs will turn up as people need assistance. People want to eat out, kids need schools, hospitals treat more patients and so on.  Materials need to be purchased. Young people will come into the area with new ideas. Older people as outlined above can make a useful contribution too. These younger people are needed to revitalize and aging community They  in turn will remember the vision we held out for them and want to do extend it  for their children. 
We can do this. We should be doing something like this for our younger generation. And we should be doing it now. 

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the 2017-2018 Berry and fruit season has started

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Just starting to pick cherries

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Blackberries are great

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What a season – hardly any rain in the last 6 months. But amazingly lots of fruit. IN the tree crops cherries and apricots are now being picked. Lucky we have irrigation.

Just the same lots of damage from roos and possums who are desperate for food as the surrounding forests are without fodder.

We have lots of berries though. At present picking strawberries, raspberries, black berries, red currants and blackcurrants.

Our shop is open every day and lots of other goodies available. Ann is a great cook and berry desserts, smoothies and our own special icecream are awaiting your evaluation.

Farm house accommodation

Home Booking

Looking for farm house accommodation? We may be the right people. 
We have been operating Eureka farm for many years and starting this year we have a limited amount of accommodation. 

Whilst you can book via AirB&B or Trip Advisor you also  have the opportunity to book directly. Bookings are now coming in so get in early if you want to book in January or February this year. Our contact number is 613-63725500

We have two types of accommodation. Our Farm House is our old family home. It  comes fully equipped for the discerning guests.. Lots of room with three bedrooms. 

The second accommodation is what we call the Aimee’s Bungalow. Just refurbished with two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. 

 Our two types of accommodation are near our Cafe and visitors will see what happens on a farm in summer. We grow many types of fruit trees as well as berries. Read more about our farm elsewhere on this site.
Some things to do:

Feed the animals, picking fruit a possibility in season.
Close to Farm Cafe. Enjoy a farm house breakfast at our cafe. Seasonal fruits , jams , chutneys and our famous ice cream are also  available in our shop. 

Great walks starting on the farm or nearby such as Winifred Curtis reserve; the Scamander Beach from Falmouth to Diana’s basin. On explore the hinderland. Rock climbing at South Sister , trout or salt water fishing in the Scamander River and much more.

We are a working farm and as such we start work early in the picking season. We promise not to bother you and you are welcome to join us. However we would prefer guests who do not party late at night as sleep is important for our sanity in these busy summer months.

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Aimee\\\'s Bungalow                                                            
Our farm house                                                            

Just enter your wishes for days you wish to stay at Eureka Farm.
The calendar will indicate whether  either of the two types of accommodation are available. Remember that the main house can accommodate up to 6 people and the Shed up to three people.

 

 

The Avenue- the exploration of a long distance trek through Break O’Day

 

 

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Cocky me on the 5th September I proposed the following adventure on my Facebook Page
“A must do adventure has been on my mind for 25 years and hopefully I will start later the week. It is a cross country trek through forests bordering our farm.——–
I have been a proponent of walking trails for many years and to date by enthusiasm seems to fall on deaf ears. So I figure the best way is to just do it.
Potentially there is so much that could be done to improve the activities available in our municipality. I had hoped to do a long distance walk to Launceston via Ben Lomond but time does not permit me to do so right now. The Ben Lomond path via Storeys Creek offers lots of possible ventures to extend this trip. One of my objectives of this trip will be to stay off roads as much as possible. This trip starts at Eureka Farm and goes to Upper Scamander where it essentially follows the Avenue River to its source and thence to Evercreech and Mathinna.—-” 

the rucksack feels heavy- but too bad as I must get going.

Goodbye, goodbye. Not sure Ann expected to see me again

 

Well it took a few days before I actually started this trip. The main reason was the weather on the few days before was iffish and not much better was promised. When I woke up Sunday,11th – it looked like a great day so I just decided to go.

To make sure of authenticity meaning that I started from Eureka Farm I decided to ride my racing bike on the fire trail behind the house. This would allow me to get to the pipes more quickly. However the reality was quite different as the these fire trails were in bad condition and not at all suitable for a bike with slim tires. I actually walked quite a bit of the way until I came to McIntyre creek where the bridge had been burnt out after the 2006 bushfire. The is just after the turnoff to Schiers track. As I was due to meet Ann at the pipes I decided to go back along Schiers track and then get to my rendezvous via Upper Scamander Road.

Even though this part of Upper Scamander Road was gravel it made for very enjoyable riding and from then on I  made good progress to the Pipes.

Ann had brought me some lunch. So we sat next to the river ate our lunch and then said goodbye.

 

The purpose of this story is to outline what I saw for others who might want to follow. The Avenue River met all my requirements in that it provided me with an instant adventure to places unknown and unfrequented by the Masses. Whilst there is no track the river is not for most of the time difficult to walk along. A word of warning though this is not a river you would want to be on after heavy rains. Flood debris was evident many metres up the side of the river from the June floods and movement along the river would have been impossible and dangerous then.

One last thing is maps. I had some digital maps on my PC downloaded from Maps Tasmania. Printing such maps didn’t lead to high enough resolution. this may have been due to my inexperience. I also had a KMZ format which theoretically you can load into Google maps. However the file size was too big and thus didn’t work. You can load them into Google Earth but still some problems printing. I did manage to save a Google map file of my trek but there terrain resolution is poor compared with Tasmaps 1:25000 topographic maps. One thing that was excellent is that once you have a downloaded map of your proposed trek you can get GPS everywhere even when there is no mobile reception. This feature is most reassuring when you are in narrow valleys with no visuals to outside landmarks.

Finally I would recommend that trekkers download PDF Maps app which has full free access to all TasMaps topographic. The resolution is very clear even better than the printed map if you are getting old and eyesight is not what it used to be. It also has GPS connectivity.  There are a number of other features in this app such as keeping a route map of your trek. One precaution you might like to think of is having a battery backup so that you can recharge your smart phone enroute.

 

Starting at the Pipes  the Avenue River had plenty of water in it. There was much evidence of the June floods along the banks too. You certainly wouldn’t want to be walking in the creek during that time. It did make me a little apprehensive too as the weather wasn’t as stable as I would have liked and when the sun disappeared it could be decidedly cold.

The side of the river had a pebbly cobblestone banks along which a four wheel drive car had apparently gone before me. It seemed like the best way to go and it wasn’t long before I was crossing back and forth across the large pools as I made my way upstream . There was no way I was going to keep my shoes dry and for that matter my shorts too. My unease settled down as I emerge from one pool to the next as I trudged up a rather straight section of the river. Where the tire tracks were going I don’t know as they disappeared presumably as the water holes got deeper. At the end of a relatively straight section the river turns to the right and goes around a long u bend. I knew this and prepared to cut across the U bend rejoining the river where Catos Creek  flows in. The where tp leave part was the difficult choice as there was no indication that a track existed, In front of me though was a large pool which went from bank to steep bank and this looked like a good place to leave the river. This I did.

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a small hideaway- nestled along the Catos River and looking over a small cleared paddock. A haven indeed

My old legs were getting cramps. probably a combination of my foray into bike riding and followed by long immersion in cold water. Whatever the reason they weren’t working as they should do. The bush along side the creek was also formidable. More water in this region led to mulga scrub , broken and dead undergrowth and flood debris. Persevering you soon get to a less formidable region and reaching the crest one finds himself back in dry sclerophyll forest. And believe it or not there is a track which leads to the one sign of habitation on the river.

Yes it was getting cold now and as I sat there I thought for a moment that this would be a good place to camp for the night. It did feel secure but come on man don’t be a wimp. Kicking myself a few times I set out again for the lower paddock and the river I had left. In trekking along this river I made a mental note of the bends. The river runs approximately in a westerly direction but the U bends are at right angles in either direction. I anticipated 3 more U bends before reaching my camping spot for that night.

  • The Avenue displays its treasures
    Magic Rocks in Crystal Clear Pools

Lots of waterholes ; some deep too so that not much below the waist remains dry. The water though is very clear but I can’t see any fish in it . ( maybe it is too cold and they have all gone elsewhere). Not much animal life either as vegetation away from the river doesn’t look like it would support much. As the river sweeps around to he north I know I am approaching another U bend. I have to leave the creek too as the pool incloses the entire creek and the sides are steep. But getting out of the river is not so easy especially for me as I am becoming severely cramped.

I drag myself up and the bush levels out but is heavily scrubbed. I more or less know which direction I must go but just in case I make a check with my ancient Silva compass. Scrub and ferns all the way. With cramping and rotting trees no one would find me if I came to grief here.

I break through to the Avenue again and with relief. Cold and wet as you trudge along the river it hasn’t been a bad day with reasonable times when the sun blessed me. I come to a more interesting section of roughlty carved rocks and small rapids. Not so easy now to travel in the creek and I make several forays over rocky obstacles joining the creek only when it seems passable.

I am looking for Long Gully Creek but didn’t really note a creek flowing although I did think that there should have been a creek in the valley to the north. Kept going and after another straight section come to the junction of two creeks Big Hop Creek and Little Hop Creek. Just where they should be and confirmed on my iphone. Nice creeks with clear water flowing but no camp sites at this junction and looking around the corner a number of large pools.

However I did notice a sandy embankment 50 metres back which will be my camp for this night. Frozen as I am I don’t stop for fear that I might seize up. I get the fire going with some driftwood lying on the pebble  sides to the creek and put my tent up and get my gear out. Alls dry in my rucksack but anything in my shorts is beyond redemption.

Shoes off, no others to wear but fire providing some well earned warmth and rehabilitation. Surprisedly I am not hungry just thirsty. I have found that lack of liquid is a major cause of cramps. So I make a billy of soup and some coffee and sit beside the fire and watch the last rays of sunlight. By about 7:30pm I am ready for bed. I was worried about cramps occurring in the sleeping bag. That can be a real nuisance trying to get mobile when locked in a bag.

But no this didn’t happen. It has only been one day ( really much less as I didn’t leave Eureka Farm  until 10:30am) but what a day. So many visuals and body but to heavy work. I go to bed contented and drowse off thinking what a great life I am having.

  • 1:A good sleepiing bag - and don't I look the worse for wear
  • 2:looking down the Avenue, my cosy U.S tent has served me well. ( not sure how well it would be in rain - but fortunately it wasn't tested on this occasion)
  • 3:
  • 4: food looks good for Breakfast. A long cold night but beautifully clear and I lost count of the stars.
  • 5: my poor little footsies
  • 6:

The cold seeps in and eventually I add my other clothes which are few to improve my warmth. I wake up before dawn – opening the tent door I can see the stars above. All is peaceful except the gurgling of the river . No animals to be seen – a little drizzle at night but the better weather still holding out.

I start the fire to cook up some fresh mince so that it doesn’t go off. Warm my bare feet , more coffee and muesli. Actually very similar to my normal Eureka Farm breakfast. The trees and undergrowth lighten up and the sun appears down the valley. It never reaches me as clouds come over too. I thank my lucky stars for the good campsite – one of a very few that exist along the river, pack up and am on my way by 8:00am.

Soon as I round the bend and pass Little Hop Creek a large pool awaits me.

  • 1: Just after Little Hog Creek more ponds. Every bend offers a different vista.
  • 2: Black Hole- a deep section on one of the U bends- greenish hues
  • 3: looking down the river at Black Hole
  • 4: still going well, body in good shape today
  • 5: before Ballyhoo Flat: Here is the fire trail- the only intersection with the outside world until I get to the upper reaches of Durham Creek
  • 6: now heading for Durham Creek

Such a change from farm work. Muscles are in good shape today. All is looking positive. Rucksack hasn’t changed much in weight but feels comfortable. It is over 30 years old and has been a regular companion of so many of my trips. Shoes are not much fun putting on as they are cold and wet but that won’t matter as they will soon be immersed in the Avenue.

Black cockatoos screeching as I trudge up the river. Is this an omen that rain is coming?  Some pools are very long and I wish my camera was more ready and that the GPS had been turned on. But I was worried they might get wet and so had the camera tucked in my rucksack. Every corner seems to want me to photograph it.

Eventually I come to the first firetrail which helps notify me exactly where I am. My iphone is still working but google maps is not so definitive and I had not at this stage switched over to pdf maps.

I had hoped the track going up the creek would take me further up the creek but no it quickly reversed direction and joined the firetrail heading uphill. Still I followed it as the pool above the trail was quite deep. Open country once you get out of the creek and some signs of clearing of the bush. It looked easy to cut back to the creek which I did. There is a big U bend and when I looked down on the creek it had disappeared. How could I have lost the Avenue River in such a short distance?  I scrambled down to the creek  as it happened I had to go down in the gully as there were cliffs just beneath me from that observation point. When I reach the bed it can be seen that the creek flows underground coming from a south east direction. This is an area known as Ballyhoo Flat. Nice country with what probably at one time was grazing country but now overrun with wattles. Possible campsite in this area.

The creek here has quite a bit of flood damage making it difficult walking along the banks loaded with debris. Walking through some deep pools still seems to me to be the best way and I accept being wet hopefully from the waist down as part of the deal.  Soon after a big pool the Avenue swings off to the right and Durham creek  is to your left. The beginning of Durham creek is wide and readily accessable.  I had a choice of Durham Creek or Barnes Creek. I choose Durham as it looked to be the bigger of the two with pools showing on my map  but in hind sight it would have been more expedient to take Barnes Creek,

  • 1: ca massive pool just after the intersection with the fire trail
  • 2: the Avenue River disappears under gravel- for a moment perched above I wonder where I am
  • 3: flood damage on Durham Creek is still visible and the rock pools can be deep
  • 4: this is one where I had a little trouble and nearly fell in - overcast and looking llike rain
  • 5: what's next????
  • 6: durham Creek eventually joins a second fire trail - which will eventually take me to Barnes Road and the Creech.
  • 7: the Climb out of Durham Creek is not fun and it is repeated at Barnes Creek
  • 8: the path down to Barnes Creek looks very similar to the one I took coming up from Durham Creek. I can't image a 4 wheel drive vehicle would have enough traction on this trail.
  • 9: leaving Barnes Creek when I reach the crest the soil looks rich - lots of she-oaks and grass for the Roos.

A little drizzle accompanies me as I move up the river. In the lower reaches there are some good sized pools but eventually the creek gets smaller. A nice surprise for me is to find a wombat trudging along the river on the opposite side. He (or she) is obviously some distance from safety and I guess didn’t expect to see me. No other company to report and eventually I make it to the second fire trail which marks my exit from Durham creek. I am quite tired and decide to take my lunch break here. It is good to sit down for a while but the trail out of the creek looks very steep and can’t really imagine vehicles being able to travel on it. But obviously they do as fallen trees have been recently cut away from the trail. The trail takes me to the crest and then back down to Barnes creek. Such a waste of energy and then another climb out of Barnes creek  to reach Sugarloaf Road which runs along the pine plantations to the east of the Creech.

Even when I make it to Sugarloaf Road it is a long traverse to the Creech. Finding the right roads is not so easy either and that was where PDF Maps came into their own. I make a few doglegs and eventually get to Barnes Road. Feet killing me and evening is fast approaching. No traffic and a strong possibility that I will have to camp. It has started to drizzle and campsites in the plantation look forlorn. But I am in luck as two forestry logging vehicles come by and are obliging to pick this old bugger up and deliver him to the Creech.

All the comforts await you at the Creech. I would highly recommend Justin and Jill for their hospitality.

All the comforts await you at the Creech. I would highly recommend Justin and Jill for their hospitality.

Not many people walk into the Creech and certainly not in the drab state that I looked. But fortunately Jill beleived my story  and made me more than welcome. The Shearer’s quarters have got all the comforts, the showers are hot and finishing the day in the crib room with an open fire is a great ending to this section of the trek. My hosts were forewarned about my arrival and groups would be acceptable with prior notice.

 

I hope to revise the end part of the trek perhaps to cut across  to the South Esk from Barnes Road and avoid the radiata plantations. More on that later hope my readers will be inspired.

To finsih up my remble I noted an article in the Age (OCTOBER 1 2016) by Katherine Johnson which supports my philosophy:

  • Wild Medicine: there are greater truths in nature than our brains can comprehend

 “Wilderness as salvation” is a relatively new concept in Western thought. And remnants of the old definitions – of wilderness as dangerous after-lands that challenge individuals and societies with their savagery and lack of rules – still linger. They rear their heads when our defences are down. When we are tired and stressed, heading off somewhere remote, particularly with children in tow, can seem too difficult, even crazy. But perhaps—— that’s just what we need to snap ourselves out of our Wi-Fi-induced comas and busy routines, the constant blah-blah of a 24-hour news cycle and the impulse to “check mail”. Perhaps launching ourselves into unknown, untamed spaces is, in fact, the sanest thing we can do.

Nature might make you slow down. it might make you strip off and jump into a cold mountain lake for the fun of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roads or Tourists for Tassie’s East Coast

Elections coming up and the pollies are promising us everything. I hear recently that Mr. Gutwein , the State treasurer has promised $7 million to upgrade roads on the East Coast the so-called Great Eastern Drive.

The platitudes quoted is that it will give tourists a more wholesome experience.

Yes it is true that roads need maintenance and upgrades do become necessary. But to equate that with a better tourist experience is misleading. I came to Tasmania 25 years ago and have lived on the East Coast ever since. We run a largely tourism oriented business at Eureka Farm and thus pay a lot of attention listening to what the tourists value most where possible make changes to our operation to reflect on those comments that apply to our business.

I think Politicians could do with a bit more of that listening experience. The visitors we see love our roads. They love the calmness that prevails, the lack of traffic, the absence of traffic lights and so on. Whether they come from the mainland or overseas these types of comments prevail. I should add that is the reason I love this place too.

The general consensus I get from Tourists visiting us is that they want to stay on and explore the area. What they do crave is things to do- icons to see. The east coast abounds with beautiful places to see. The weather is usually much better than the rest of the state but it is true that like so much of Tasmania it depends on fair weather for activities.

In my community however the problem is making these places obvious to visitors. Sure there are magnificent beaches, rocky headlands and an extended backdrop of state forests. Hardly anything overdeveloped and to my mind very much like the east coast of New South Wales and Victoria was fifty years ago. But there are few walking trails along the coast and its hinterland and the same applies for bicycles. Sure bicycles can go on the roads but that is a risky business and no one which parents are likely to support for their children. Many of our reserves and parks are also somewhat inaccessible. We have Winifred Curtis reserve nearby and it has some magnificent walks inside its boundaries but access to the public is not so easy from nearby communities.

What we need is coastal walks perhaps dual purpose in some places so that bikes can use them too. The coastal walks would connect to these parks and have regular entry points. The users would be able to spend a much larger time in the one area this way and I would imagine would more likely find interest with all members of the family. The entry points would enable small businesses to cater for guests in the way of accommodation and/or food. All thus activities would inevitably promote business activity. Living in the best place in the world I want this, I need this and I don’t think such changes would be difficult to implement.

This type of rationale is not original. Our counter parts in New Zealand and elsewhere have been doing this for years and successfully. We must be aware that experiences are what our visitors want to take home. If we don’t supply it they will go elsewhere. On a much smaller scale in our backyard we have seen what the mountain bike trails have done to Derby and as a result how Dorset Municipalities have extended their scope of activities.

The concept of spending your holidays driving everywhere is no longer what many people are seeking. The desire to do something is a growing need for many who often lead somewhat sedentary lives in their home lives. This need is in all of us all the time and doesn’t really matter whether we are on holidays here or live here. Tasmania’s east coast is the perfect venue for coastal walks and/or bike-rides.

East Coast Trekking

For a long time now I have firmly believed that East Coasters (of Tasmania that is) have relied on the natural beauty of the area to attract tourists to this area. Considering just how beautiful this area is I don’t think we can just sit on our backsides and expect newcomers to see the beautiful spots that we know about. Quite often tourists only get to site this area from the roads. They are reluctant to get out and walk because quite frankly we the locals don’t show them where these iconic spots are.

I am very lucky to live in Scamander quite close to Winifred Curtis reserve and a magic beach which practically runs from Falmouth to St. Helens with hardly a soul on it. Sure I am privileged but at the same time I am worried. Why should I be worried? Simply because if we don’t let people know and appreciate our coastal scenery it won’t enjoy  the same degree of protection that we would naturally feel if we all used it and enjoyed it. If we don’t make the coastal reserves accessible I am afraid ad hoc development as has occurred in many other places of Australia will continue to be the main process of development.

We are very lucky in the Scamander Area in still having an opportunity to develop a coastal walk. In time I see no reason why this could not be extended to a long distance walk that went from Freycinet Peninsula to Eddystone Lighthouse. We already no how popular the Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clare walk has become and on a smaller scale the Bay of Fires Walk at Anson’s Bay.

I think we  must become real adventurous and create a network of walks in our region. Many of these treks could later be extended into bicycle paths as well. I foresee not only a coastal walk but walks along out East Coast hinterland. A logical mechanism would be to extend the Douglas Appsley walk to go to somewhere like Ringarooma and another walk to go from Scamander along the old cattle trails to Launceston via Roses Tier and Blessington. The mind boggles when you think of all the possibilities for exciting new activities for this area.

I will close with a few photos that Garry Shaw and myself took the other day on the Scamander beach dunes. What a fabulous area.Isn’t it a pity no one can see it?

Scamander Beach looking south to Falmouth

Scamander Beach looking north to Scamander

If you out there are like-minded about this type of project make contact with me or/and let your local councillors know that you want something like this. We just can’t afford to be complacent.