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PacificEdge | February 26, 2017

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A stroll in the bush

A stroll in the bush
Russ Grayson

A Tasmanian journey…

IF THERE IS one good thing that Hobart has (let’s be clear: it has more than one) it’s access to the surrounding countryside and bushland. And… it has a 1250 metre-high mountain within the city limits. That’s a one-up on most (all?) mainland capitals.

“Here’s where I saw a black snake the other morning”, says Catriona Macmillan as we walk down the steepish slope in the bush behind her house-sit at Cascades.

“Most likely a Tasmanian tiger snake”, I respond, having seen a good many of these linear creatures over the years.

“There are no black snakes of the mainland variety down here, so it was probably a tiger, perhaps a copperhead. Both types are variable in colour and the tiger usually lacks the striping that gives the name to the mainland species. The only way to tell the difference is by the arrangement of scales on the snake’s head, and I wouldn’t bother getting so close that you can examine them in detail.

“You saw it early in the morning. Because snakes are cold blooded they like to sit on an exposed rock or track to absorb the sun’s warmth… that’s how they warm up for the day.

“And, yes, both tigers and copperheads are quite venomous”.

TAKING A WALK

It was Catriona’s idea to take a walk in the bush here in the ridge country that makes up the foothills of Mt Wellington. The dog needed exercise, she said, glancing over to the animal that came with the house she is minding (as did a flock of chickens, a cat and a large grey and black spotted pig).

The downhill trail we were following connects with the Cascades Walking Track that traverses open, dry eucalypt forest and parallels the narrow Old Farm Road that we could catch a glimpse of through the trees across the Hobart Rivulet now and again. That provides vehicular access to the start of the Myrtle Gully Track and the few farmhouses along the route.

“Look… there’s a house down there”, says Fiona as she stops to look towards the roof we can see in the distance. “Must be cold there in winter”.

That is something I am sure of. Situated on the banks of Hobart Rivulet at the bottom of the little, steep-sided valley, the house would be exposed to the cold, dense katabatic airflow coming down off Mt Wellington.

This track is that access to the bush that I mentioned before. Cascades most famous landmark is the Cascades brewery, a tall, stone structure located where the hilly suburb meets South Hobart. The bushland hereabouts is accessible because it’s all of ten minutes or less by car from the city centre and there is a regular bus service. If you feel energetic you can walk all the way from the city along the route of the Rivulet. It’s from here, the brewery, that the Cascades Waling Track starts, its 2.5km length depositing you at the start of the Myrtle Gully Track that climbs Mt Wellington.

This is one of those sociable walks where you spend most of the time talking. The track we follow might well be a favourite for dog keepers as we encounter a woman with two large animals that, being of friendly disposition, liked nothing more than to jump up at people leaving dusty dog footprints all over our clothes.

Soon we leave the Cascades Walking Track and climb onto the ridge for our return. It had been a pleasant, talkative ramble in the bush, something people of moderate fitness could do, though not cyclists as the machines are banned from the track.

We were north-bound the following day while Catriona would stay on, house and animal minding at her house-sit until the first days of the new year.

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