The Derwent laps the hills near Hobart. Effortlessly turning grassland into a flooded river bed. The Derwent doesn’t run swiftly. People sail on it. A few people row on it. Regatta Day attempts to make The River the heart of this city. The River Derwent is Hobart. Hobart is the river and the mountain.
River begins in Lake St Clair. Somewhere south of the Tasman Bridge the Derwent
River evolves into Storm Bay. The Derwent River is about 180 km long. Upper tributaries are
developed for hydro power. Around New Norfolk irrigation from the river for
hops and fruit.
1793: The River
Derwent was called Rivière du Nord by the French admiral Bruni d’Entrecasteaux.
A couple of months later the British under John Hayes named the river after the
River Derwent in England. The name Derwent is Celtic for valley thick with
floating bridge was built across the River Derwent to link Hobart’s eastern and
western shores. It consisted of a series of pontoons with a movable span near
the western shore. The floating bridge frequently suffered substantial storm
damage. There was constant disruption of road and water traffic due to the
raising of lift span.
Construction of the Tasman Bridge began.
1965: The Tasman
Bridge officially opened.
1975: On the
5th January at 9:27 p.m. the Lake Illawarra struck a concrete pylon of the
bridge, resulting in the deaths of twelve people and its closure for two
years. It removed two pylons and 127m of the bridge. Five motorists
and seven crew of the ship died. The ship was off course and at fault.
connects the two halves of Hobart. A lot of people live on the eastern shore
and worked in the CBD of Hobart. With the bridge down Hobart became two cities.
At the time the Bowen bridge did not exist. The only way across the river was
via Bridgewater. Enterprising business men started transporting commuters
across the river. Boom times for ferry operators.
The river is
35m deep at this point and the ship still lies at the bottom of the river with
a concrete slab from the bridge on top of it. Ships regularly pass over the
sunken ship without a thought. You can go diving on the sunken ship but it is
very muddy with low visibility.
Rebuilding of the bridge finished on 8/10/1977.
bridge was rebuilt the ferry services stopped. One ferry operator diversified
into building ships. Very successfully and still going as Incat.
ship passing under the bridge picks up a local harbor pilot before passing
under the bridge. All traffic is halted. Everybody is once again reminded of
the day the bridge ceased connecting Hobart.
across the river you do tend to look for and imagine the ship lying down there.
When running the bridge, you tend to enjoy the view. You don’t think of the traumatized
bridge or photos of cars on the broken bridge.
see the bridge covered by a blanket of living, moving runners and walkers. Concentrating,
focused and pounding the bitumen. This year I run amongst fewer runners. The
crowd is ahead of me.
bridge is the second drink station. Opposite
Government House. Two cups of water for me. A few volunteers scurry around
picking up discarded cups. Behind them is the Cenotaph. Every year I run I get
slower and slower. A glance at the Cenotaph reminds me of the alternative to
getting slower and older.
races tell me the finish is a tease. Run past the finish line, tour Battery
Point, and then come back to cross the finish line.
finish bump in the road I discern an idea of my time. I am hot and tired and
grab some water.
I try and
find my lift home. It is a very big very active crowd. Thousands of happy
sweaty people. We are all wearing medals. Some ran the bridge for the first
time. Some ran better than last time. Some are getting older and slower. Everybody
medal tells a story.
find my lift. We now discuss where we should go for a cup of coffee. We depart heading
towards our chosen cafe.
Behind us a
happy crowd talking; drinking water and taking photos. The organisers are less visible.
They have created a delicious, wonderful crowd full of proud, exhausted, chatty
people. The organisers have made many of us Hobartians a tiny bit healthier. Physically,
socially and emotionally. One runner came first but, I think, the organizers,
volunteers, spectators and the runners are all winners.