It was almost two years ago that we went to Tasmania for a magical six weeks. Two years ago we were panicking slightly at the thought of husband’s birthday, Christmas, new Year, flight to Hobart all happening in the following three weeks. We had such a wonderful time – is it possible to feel homesick for a place which isn’t your home?
Last year I wrote about the river which runs through Hobart… here’s the first part of what I wrote:
The Hobart Rivulet
Wherever you go in Hobart you can see kunanyi – now known as Mount Wellington. In the winter it is covered in snow and it must look strikingly marvellous. We saw it in the middle of summer, a reassuring presence overlooking the busy city. We took a trip to the top… on a day which was wet and rainy, and all we saw was cloud and mist… it was tremendously atmospheric – literally, and although yes, I would like to travel up to its peak again on a good day to see the view, there was an almost mystical sense of it being a special place.
The first people who lived here were the mouheneener people and the pure fresh water flowing down the mountain was a precious resource… It flowed down and joined the mighty Tasmanian river, timtumili minanya
… and then at the end of the seventeenth century wooden ships sailed into the bay bringing white people who would colonise the area, and eventually the whole island. This land was then named Van Diemen’s Land. The English colonists, mainly prisoners from Britain’s overflowing jails and soldiers to guard them, had tried to establish a settlement at piyura kitina, which they called Risdon Cove, but lack of drinking water sent them in search of a more ‘suitable’ site. They found it at the confluence of that little fresh water river, where it joined the timtumili minanya, which the new arrivals named The River Derwent.
It wasn’t many months after their arrival that a flour mill was built on the rivulet in 1805, and by 1820 there were three more. The settlement was called Hobarton and was named after Lord Hobart who was the British secretary of state for war and the colonies – or to be precise, Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire, the Lord Hobart. Hobarton became Hobart, and the river flowing off the mountain became the Hobart Rivulet. Originally the Rivulet met the Derwent at what became Franklin’s Wharf, but later is course was altered, the water piped and culverted and it now emerges into the river near the Cenotaph.
Now the area is named the English way, any mouheneener names have been forgotten although many features are being renamed with new Aboriginal names. The Hobart Rivulet flows from its source on the slopes kunanyi, over O’Grady’s Falls and the Strickland Falls until it reaches an imposing edifice opened in 1828 as a prison for female convicts (and their children), a prison and workhouse, the Cascades Female Factory. In actual fact it was originally supposed to be a distillery – what does a distillery need to operate? Water – and what as flowing past the proposed site? Pure mountain water. However, by the time the owner arrived from England and opened it in 1824, there were at least sixteen other distilleries already operating and he went out of business. The Cascade Brewery, which still is there today, was opened in 1824, again using the fresh pure water to make its world-famous beers, lager and cider.