Sunday, 16 February 2014

Hobart Rivulet and the Female Factory

Wednesday 22nd January, 1834

'I was determined to lose no time, so although I enjoyed the quiet comfort of my bed, I was up by 5 o'clock. Accompanied by Mr Hodson, the owner of the inn, I set off for one of his properties at the entrance to a lovely valley at the foot of Mount Wellington.

This mountain is the constant background to the beautiful scene presented by Hobart Town. Its ever-changing colours and the lovely relationship between the rock formations and the woods, combined with its distinctive shape, make it one of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. 

I returned for breakfast rather weary, as I had clambered around a good deal on the foothills. Right at the foot of the mountain, in a secluded valley and an even more secluded position, is the women's prison, called the Female Factory. This should really lead me on to give an account of the conditions under which the convicts are kept, but I shall defer this to the general description of the colony planned for the conclusion.' p99.


Argyle St, Hobart Rivulet inlay.

Friday 14th February, 2014

As mentioned in an earlier post, I too have been waking early, due to the busy container yard behind me. However, I am not up and walking at 5am (yet). On Friday I started the day with a trip on Mona Roma to visit Mona for the first time. It was excellent to view Hobart from the Derwent—we had prime views of Government House nestled in beside the Botanical Gardens. Further round is the enormous Zinc Works, then under the Tasman Bridge, and in 30 short minutes we were ascending the stairs to Mona.

Mona was very interesting (of course), and buzzing with activity, and noisy art. After a few hours I was ready to leave the underground gallery and have some respite from the audio overload that was beginning to rattle me. However, when I realised that I had missed the Simon Starling Cove Park work I headed back down the spiral staircase and watched his anachronistic slide show, back and forth and back again. Marvellous!


Apple Isle

I arrived back in Hobart with enough time to venture up towards West Hobart and the Hobart Rivulet. A couple of people and a guide book had told me about tours of the Hobart Rivulet where you are taken, with torches, underneath the city— the Rivulet encased to make way for the buildings above. The woman at the Tasmanian Tourist Office was quick to tell me that these tours were no longer on offer! Relief might be an understatement—I am not one for enclosed spaces, or for the unlikely events of flash floods. However, I was pleased a few days later to come across the inlay in the footpath outside the hospital on Argyle St. A lovely marker following the direction and flow of the Rivulet as it heads towards the Derwent. (See first pic of this post.)


Further upstream I found some freshly cut willow bark - pinkish dye to come.

Apples orchard ahead, and the low hills described by Von Hügel 

I joined the Rivulet above Molle St and followed it to the Cascade Brewery buildings. The late afternoon time slot meant I was joined by commuters (on foot and treadly), dog walkers and family groups—much like my local creek (the Merri) in Melbourne. Also like the Merri, restoration groups are in evidence, working to recreate habitat for local indigenous critters. Setting it apart from the Merri were the three groups of people collecting blackberries—and the blackberries themselves which were more prolific, juicy and delicious than one would expect to find on the Merri. The drier climate, and the fact that they have probably been sprayed keeps us away!


Veggie patches and private gardens sit upon the banks of the Hobart Rivulet.

Before arriving at the Brewery I too walked past the Female Factory. Now a museum with an entry fee, it seemed an empty shell made up of two large open yards, in fine condition—thanks to the National Council of Women of Tasmania who fought to stop demolition and have the Female Factory recognised as a significant heritage site. Hobart, while vibrant and alive and contemporary, also feels like a city whose early colonial history sits very close to the surface of things.


Female Factory - Yard 1

Female Factory Museum entry

I walked beyond the Brewery, hoping to find passage through to the Pipeworks track. No luck, just No Trespass signs and private tracks. So I about heeled, heading back the way I had come, retracing my footsteps, and Von Hügel's, into Hobart Town. I too felt weary, and happy with the day's reconnaissance. 

Cascade Brewery in the distance, back towards Hobart.


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