Walking to the Whyte River

Online information and panel boards indicated the walk to and from Whyte River would be more or less a walk in the park and take about 1.5 hours for the return trip.

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I remarked that it didn’t matter that my feet did not want to walk another step, I would go.  I would walk the Whyte River track.  It was only suffering, and I could put that to the side and ignore it if I went slowly. I knew I could and I knew we must make the walk then or otherwise we would miss the opportunity. Our trip time was too short and compressed to fit this walk in at any other time.  So off we went.

The track to Whyte River starts with a soft leaf mould base and at other times the path was sandy.

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Towards the Whyte River the path is relatively flat as it winds close to the Pieman River, although occasionally it is punctuated by short hills.

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From the comparative darkness of the bush only a flash of light could be seen of the river, and only by peering carefully could the edge of the River on the southern side be determined.

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Photographed without the features of the vegetation, the River took on an intense blue colour.

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In other places, and depending on the light, the Pieman River showed as a deep greeny brown almost in reflection of the colours on the river banks.  This was not dirty water.  Exceptionally clear and clean.  20170306_152127.jpg

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Then open views of the rich diversity of vegetation appeared on the other side of the Pieman River – probably more or less identical to the bush on the side we were walking. 20170306_162240

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Close to the confluence of the Whyte with the Pieman Rivers, standing on a sandy bank we could see the two merging. Watch this video.

I was disappointed that the track never took me to the edge of the Whyte River.  Close to our viewing point, the track turns inland. Rather than returning to Corinna by the path on which we came, we continued along this inland-turning path hoping to be given access to the Whyte River along the way. Alas, this never happened.

Along the way an elaborate assortment of lichen and fungi featured. 20170306_163117.jpg

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Eventually the path climbed and the track was a mesh of tree roots.

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And occasionally I had a sit and a think (code for my feet really hurt), , with tablet in hand at the ready for anything deemed to be worthy of photographing.

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We had no idea where the track would come out and assumed somehow we would return to the Tarkine Hotel.  Not so.  Through quite thick foliage eventually I could see bits of buildings. Soon I realised that we were coming out in the area of the cottage accommodations.  Lo and behold the track came out directly next to and on the eastern side of our Hobbs cottage.  ‘No further to walk, thank goodness’ was my main thought. In the photo below of our cottage, you can see the thickets through which we emerged.

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Only approximately 2 hours after starting the walk did we finish our Whyte River walk.  Other people we spoke with elsewhere told how this was about the time they took – 1.5 hrs is a realistic measure if you walk there and back without looking at the environment or stopping to feel the landscape, so allow at least 2 hours to immerse yourself in the experience.  To give yourself time to be there. To be.

Most of all, if you travel to Corinna, make sure you take this walk – whatever you feel about your feet or knees or whatever. Just go slow if you must and be assured your experience will be immensely rich.

 

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Time for a rest

With the walk to Savage River and the return to Corinna in the kayak completed we felt we deserved a drink at the pub.  The verandah on the Tarkine Hotel is deep, with contemporary rustic furniture that is perfect to take over and sit with a drink, and offers clear views of the Pieman River and the comings and goings of visitors.  We settled in.  A second drink. We smiled remembering our earlier experiences.

During our rest break the couple of walkers we had passed starting the walk from Savage River back to Corinna (they had kayaked to the Savage River), staggered slowly up the steps to the Hotel. I reminded them that I had recommended they make the return trip by  kayak and they laughed.  Despite the hilly terrain of that walk, like us they had found the landscape to be so beautiful that the walk was worth making.

Jeanette was inspired, went inside and returned with her purchase of Phill Pullinger’s publication Tarkine Trails, that had been published by the Bob Brown Foundation.  This 256 page book, also available from Fullers Bookshop in Hobart and probably other book sellers,  provides information and coloured photos of various Tarkine trails and much more.

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Later Jeanette gifted me a copy for which I am most grateful.  I love it for its maps, descriptions, track notes, directions and it’s tantalisingly beautiful photos.

After about an hour or so of reinvigorating relaxation we registered that it wasn’t yet mid-afternoon.   Perhaps the day would be wasted if we didn’t explore further. The track leading to the Whyte River to our left/ to the east had not yet been explored. Could we do it?  Should we do it?

 

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Paddling back to Corinna

The paddles slipped through the water with ease as we glided out from the mirror calm Savage River into the magnificently mirror calm Pieman River.

Without wind and without water currents except for a minimal sense in the centre of the Pieman River, almost no effort was required. One stroke and we were ahead many metres. Another virtually effortless stroke and we were shooting ahead again. Over and over and sometimes just drifting for pleasure. This was an uplifting experience which I would recommend to anyone visiting Corinna. And we only had 3 kilometres to travel along the River to reach Corinna.  On another visit I have no doubt we will kayak for miles in all directions – just for the pleasure.

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20170306_121454.jpgI felt like pinching myself. This was a brilliant exposure to a significant part of the glorious Tarkine.  It was only as we headed eastwards around corner after corner of the Pieman River that I appreciated the scale of the River and the pristine qualities of the dense bush either side.  This was so very special.

Looking westwards and up to Mt Donaldson

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Views as we paddled along the Pieman River

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20170306_125020.jpgSometimes we paddled out around the centre of the River for the grand views and at other times we came close in to the bank to look more closely at the vegetation.

20170306_125111.jpgWe were fortunate to be able to identify Tasmania’s special Huon Pine trees at the water’s edge. 20170306_124837.jpg

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20170306_124959.jpg Eventually we could see the Fatman ferry crossing the Pieman River with its cargo of people and vehicles so we knew we had almost reached Corinna. 20170306_125037.jpg

20170306_125216.jpgWith leisurely strokes we continued until we could manoeuvre the kayak onto a pebbly river edge at Corinna then drag it up onto land ready for the owners to store or transport it elsewhere for other would-be kayakers.

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The Kayak

My fellow traveller was smart. She had looked to the future before we left on our walk to the Savage River, and arranged to hire a Kayak through the Tarkine Hotel.  Our bright red mode of transport for the return to Corinna was waiting for us at the pontoon on arrival at the Savage River.  It was fully equipped with a secure bin for our dry valuables and life jackets.

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I shall praise my friend for her forethought and planning this for the rest of my days.  I could not have walked back to Corinna, and this water trip promised an alternative experience that would provide a view of the Tarkine not possible by any other means.

Initially I was quite concerned about getting into the kayak without falling into the River. The water level and the kayak was a lot lower than the pontoon and much lower than my shortish legs. Powerfully funny images of my stomach and upper body resting on the pontoon while my legs dangled over the edge but not able to reach the kayak came to mind.  Ridiculous but, in my ignorance, worrying.  Lovely as the day was I really didn’t want to drop into the cold river. I suspected that my relatively inflexible body might see me topple and splash.

However the process was much easier than I expected. Very easy in fact. My boots and gear were off and ready to be stowed in the kayak, and I stepped down onto a wooden platform which was slightly submerged (but visible in the photo below) and could then easily step in and sit down.  The lesson to be learned here is not to worry; problems either do not exist or can be solved.

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Time for a lunch break

Without a doubt I was very relieved to reach the Savage River after descending from the lofty heights above. My feet could go no further. There was no way I wanted to retrace my steps to Corinna. In a rush of foolishness I felt I would stay by the river forever.  I was not going back.  I felt I couldn’t walk back.

Jeanette had arrived earlier, while I trudged more slowly, and being rested was ready to move on.  ‘No. I can’t yet. I have to stop. I am going to eat my lunch’, I muttered irritably feeling the weight and drain of my sore feet. We had packed our lunches before leaving our cottage so were well prepared.  I plonked myself down with legs swinging over one side of the pontoon and surveyed the water, the bank, the trees and all the lower vegetation as I munched on lunch.

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And I calmed down.  I began to relax. I began to be able to enjoy my surroundings.  It was a truly lovely place.  No-one but us.  Only the sounds of the bush and the birds.

And Jeanette made herself comfortable as well.  Idyllic.

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We felt so privileged to be there in this stunningly beautiful environment. We were both so pleased we had chosen to make this walk. I was so pleased that I had not given up along the way, despite my feet wanting to rest.  It was another reminder that one step at a time is all it takes, and if slower than most, the end can still be reached.  And it will be worth it.

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The Croydon

The SS Croydon is sunk in the Savage River not far from its mouth where it connects with the Pieman River.  From our vantage point on the pontoon, the remnants of this ship were clearly visible poking up from the water line, but our photographs do not record them well.  The whitish glint in the distance on the water in the following photo, marks the partly submerged wreck.

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Interpretation panels provided us with additional information.  20170306_123629.jpg

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The Australian National Shipwrecks Database includes a clearer photo of the wreck emerging from the Savage River and the following information: “On 10 May 1919 the steamship Croydon entered the Savage River on Tasmania’s west coast, to load a cargo of logs. At about 2.00 am on the 13th the engineer found the vessel was rapidly filling with water and it sank by the stern soon afterwards, still attached by its moorings to the river bank. The four crew rowed up-river to the township of Corinna to seek assistance. A public inquiry held at Burnie on 24 June cleared the crew from blame for the loss – it was believed that the hull plates had sprung while hauling logs aboard.The Advocate newspaper reported the story of the inquiry on Friday 6 June 1919.

The Wreck Site provides additional information about the SS Croydon’s history starting with its building in 1896 in Singapore.

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Opportunity to take a guided walk in the Tarkine

Into my email inbox flew an advertisement offering a brief 3 night guided tour experience of a few parts of the Tarkine.  More details can be read here.

For avid readers of my blog you will see that this package includes one place that I have described previously in this blog; Philosopher’s Falls.  In addition, the guided walk itinerary covers other locations which you will read about in my blog during the next week or so: our walk beside the Pieman River to the Whyte River and our boat trip down the Pieman River.  All wonderful place to visit.  I must be clear – I do not know this company, and so this is not a recommendation. They have not approached me to spruik their offer. My reason for inserting this information here is because you might find it interesting and worthy of more investigation. It might suit your needs perfectly so that you want to take up their early bird offer (see the pricing page on their website).

 

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