Sunday, 23 February 2014

Duckhole Rivulet, Major de Gillern's meersham pipe and the ruin

Strath Ayr Turf - part of the original Glen Ayr property


Tuesday 18th February, 2014

I have spent two days wandering about the rough proximity of Von Hügel's Grasstree Hill walk. It is possible that in the tellling, the two days will become entwined.

On my way to the ruin, Duckhole rivulet runs along behind the sheep.

Thursday 30th January, 1834

Major von Gillern's (sic) house is built in a fine, open situation on a hill open on all sides. In front it looks out over Pitt Water, an arm of the sea, and beyond that to the plain and the town of Richmond a short distance away.

Wednesday 12th February, 2014

Prior to visiting Tasmania I had pored over the 1:250 000 maps of Hobart and surrounds trying to find clues and markers of exactly where Von Hugel had walked. Von Hügel spent a night at de Gillern's property 'Glen Ayr', situated on a rise up Grasstree Hill before Richmond. So I was pleased when my internet sleuthing uncovered the winery 'Glen Ayr'. Unlike the Baron—who liked a formal introduction—I arrived in Hobart and telephoned 'Glen Ayr' unannounced.  I was told the winery was actually situated on a property called 'Strath Ayr'. However, the owner was able to confirm that originally Glen Ayr and Strath Ayr had been one. De Gillern's home was a ruin atop a hill behind their property. My topographical map from the 1980's marked the ruin, but the most recent 'up to date' map did not.

Glen Ayr ruin, turf in the distance

Glen Ayr fireplace, looking in the direction of the Pitt Water

Elegant stonework

Wednesday 12th February, 2014

With maps in hand, I drove up Grasstree Hill (not a Xanthorrhoea in site) to visit Emma, the Manager. She invited me to return to walk along the Duckhole rivulet. I also planned to walk up the hill and visit the ruin. Strath Ayr is a turf farm, swathes of green as perfect as cricket pitches are positioned beside chocolate brown ploughed paddocds waiting for seeds to be sown. Consequently, it was a surprise that amidst all this finely tuned manufacture, there appeared (to my untrained eye) a bounty of remnant vegetation along the rivulet and on the hillside where de Gillern's ruins lay.

Looking north from de Gillern's ruin

Bidgee Widgee in seed

Bursaria Spinosa

Duckhole Rivulet

Yellow everlastings amongst the green lichen

Native Raspberry Rubus parvolfolius 

Beautfiful poas

The rivulet was made up of interconnecting rock pools

Amongst the remant vegetation, thistles still take hold


Friday 31st January, 1834

I went for an early morning walk in the neighbourhood, but the unprecedented drought in Van Diemen's Land and the bushfire mentioned aboutve had destroued all plant life. Black and borwn were the only colours to be seen for miles around the house. p 123

Scarcely a single new plant rewarded us for our long, hard march. p 125

A view back towards Hobart, wildflowers abound
Hopbush Dodonea viscosa - I was interested to read that the fruit from the female berry is 'soapy' (Sapindaceae)—these properties could contribute to natural dyeing in interesting ways.

 Friday 31st January, 1834

After we had taken leave of our hosts, we set out on our return journey, taking a long detour over another range, by a track which Dr Scott assured us he knew very well. Dressed in a nankeen dressing-gown and slippers, and sucking his meerschaum pipe with its horn mouthpiece almost bitten through, the Major accompanied us for the first mile and assured us we could not possibly miss the track from here on. I have a natural aversion to such tracks in unknown country surround by mountains and hills, where there are no real signposts.

Major William de Gillern, his wife Harriet and Miss Lucy Scott at Rocky Hills probation station (184-)
Has been attributed to
T.G. Wainewright.

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