Monday, 22 Jul 2019

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball

TRUGANINI. HOBART REGION 

Enjoy late afternoon light from the Signal Station Brasserie:

  A memorial to Tasmanian Aboriginal culture and communication history, with sweeping views thrown in, this mostly-forest walk climbs from riverbank to 19thcentury signal station.

 

Walk: 5.1km out-and-back
Time required: 2 hours
Best time: Clear day for the best views from the Signal Station
Grade: Easy–moderate
Environment and attractions: Wet riparian forest, eucalypt scrub, hill top, communication history, 19th century historic site
Best map: This one
Toilets: Flushing toilets in Signal Station car park
Food: Pull up a seat in the Signal Station Brasserie, in the signalman’s cottage, for breakfast or lunch and all-day sweet and savoury treats, including lemonade scones.
Tips: You can drive to Signal Station, so if anyone in your party doesn’t fancy walking, and/or you only want to walk the track one way, rendezvous up top, perhaps with a picnic or barbecue in the boot.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 1

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

This walk is named in honour of Truganini, the most famous historical Tasmanian Aborigine, whose work with (and against) European settlers to save her people from annihilation saw her described as ambassador, guerrilla fighter and survivor. Truganini Track climbs Cartwright Creek to historic Mt Nelson Signal Station in south Hobart. It starts from shady Truganini Reserve (where you’ll find parking and picnic tables) on the western side of Sandy Bay Rd, a couple of hundred metres from the Derwent River, in the southern suburb of Cartwright Creek. About 20m into the bush from the yellow-and-white sign at the rear of the reserve, the track is gated against vehicles. If you are interested in history, Truganini and this walk will impress you.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 2

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Initially wide enough for two people, the bark-covered track threads through untidy eucalypt forest, in the main creek gully, with houses just visible beyond the trees. Having crossed a smaller tributary, ignore a lower track with rocks across it and instead keep right, but staying beside the creek. Veer left at the next junction, ignoring a fire trail to private property, and down into the creek gully. Narrower and rockier track continues upstream, through bracken and moss and occasional tall eucalypts far outnumbered by ganglier immature ones.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 3

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

You’ll come to a junction where a track with an old wooden sign goes left, over the creek. Ignore this and remain on this side of the creek, climbing more steeply up man-made steps, rocks and roots, with Cartwright Creek still below. The track slices through a long-toppled tree that’s covered in moss, ferns and miniature mushrooms. Look out for colourful jelly fungus. Cross the creek where it’s piled with mossy rocks and thick with tree ferns and continue on the opposite bank. The footpad coming up on this side is probably the continuation of the track ignored at the last crossing point. Beyond the majestic eucalypts standing sentinel here you enter drier forest with fewer ferns. The air cracks with whipbirds too.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 4

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Recross the creek and continue upstream; note the diversity of moss textures and greens. Look out too for stalks of pink common heath bell flowers. The track then steps out of the creek gully and heads uphill (see point 2 on map), showing you, through the trees, fingers of land poking south beyond Hobart. Truganini’s birthplace, Bruny Island, pokes its head around the next ridge east as you climb. Several step-ups stretch your legs as you walk through eucalypts with coarse grey bark peeling to smooth buttermilk trunks. The track skirts a lump of granite polka-dotted with grey- and-white lichens.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 5

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Almost at the top, there’s a T-junction with a narrow track going left onto a granite slab. Keep right and walk on through another four-way junction, leaving the memorial track (left) for your return. Ignoring another track going right almost immediately after, walk the final 50m or so to the top, across picnic lawns with electric barbecues and past Signal Station Brasserie (delights with a view) in the signalman’s cottage (1897). Beyond, squats boxy Mt Nelson Signal Station. Founded in 1811 to convey information about shipping traffic in and out of the Port of Hobart to marine authorities, and later modified to also accommodate messages to and from Port Arthur, Mt Nelson Signal Station is an integral part of Tasmania’s communication history. Flag, lamp, semaphore, telegraph, telephone and radio signalling techniques were used here before it was decommissioned in 1969.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 6

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Within the tiny building you’ll find memorabilia, photographs, books, the International Code of Signals and a chart showing how the semaphore system operated across south-east Tasmania. The last semaphore message (‘Forgotten’) was sent from here to Battery Point in 1890. Three signalmen operated the station, so life wasn’t as isolated as at a lighthouse. And while they had to work in all weathers, few workplaces have views to compare: over Hobart and its waterways, including the Tasman Bridge spanning the Derwent River and ships and boats navigating the river; and Mt Wellington standing above the city, with its signal tower poking the sky. The view takes in the Tasman Peninsula to the south-east, and narrow Eaglehawk Neck. On clear days you can see Cape Raoul. Bruny Island is visible just beyond the trees to the right.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 7

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Past and below the signal station is another lookout. A walking track leads from here down to the suburb of Sandy Bay. With a car shuffle or public transport, you could do this as a through walk. Otherwise, retrace your steps to the memorial junction and take the right-hand track, towards a house. A few metres along there is a seat facing a granite boulder on which is a sculpted metal plaque dedicated to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their descendants. Continue past the memorial and swing left to the track you walked up. Retrace your steps down Cartwright Creek to finish.

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 8

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 9

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 10

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 11

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania - photo 12

Truganini. Mysterious Tasmania

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