Sunday 4 May 2014

From City to Summit 3: The Cascade Connection

[Cascade Brewery and Mount Wellington by Haughton Forrest
ca 1890, 
Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts.] 

Despite the absence of Jorgensen’s “impervious growth”, our progress up the Rivulet Track wasn’t exactly swift. There were thickets of history and memory to be caught up in too.

At the Cascades Female Factory, for instance, we were reminded that Sally had written about the place a few years ago. She’d entered into the imagined life of a Female Factory inmate named Sarah. Transported to Van Diemen’s Land for stealing a loaf of bread, Sarah found herself in the Female Factory, where she lamented:

We weren’t people any more but thieves and twisted wretches who needed reform…

When we slipped into that valley, under the shadow of that mountain, I felt two things. Beauty and terror. What a beautiful place. What a terrifying space.

This was my new forced-upon-me home. If they had given me a nice cottage and a family and a little garden and a pot for stew and said, ‘Have a happy life, Sarah’ I might have made a go of feeling the beauty better. They gave me a cell and a filthy bed and a hundred rough women to fight against and no hope and then they told me - work the long days, learn the long nights and do it for seven years - keep quiet - don’t make trouble and look to God. I didn’t know where to look.

And the mountain loomed over me as though it might swallow me up or maybe just make me disappear into its shaggy, rocky sides*.

[Sally gets re-aquainted with the Female Factory] 
It was hard to walk past that place without feeling the weight of misery that had led to it being called the valley of the shadow of death, a reference to Psalm 23. But a couple of tourists arrived at the gate of the now historic attraction, so we took our rod and our staff and moved on.

We stuck with the Cascade theme however, with the Cascade Gardens and the Cascade Brewery just a short distance upstream. The Gardens were build around the boulder dam and trash trap that were part of the flood-fighting efforts dating back to the 1960s. Destructive flows were the downside of the reliable water that saw this area dotted with mills from the early 19th century onwards.

[Cascade Gardens across the boulder dam] 

In 1824 an English engineer named Peter Degraves built a timber mill here. The plentiful blue gums up the valley were ideal for building the boats used in the thriving whaling and sealing industry. But debt problems had pursued him from England, and Degraves was soon sent to gaol. Not fazed, he used his time in prison to plan a brewery. On his release in 1831 he put his plans into action, and by 1832 the Cascade Brewery opened.

It’s amusing to us as locals to see what a shrine the brewery has become. Buses have made it a compulsory stop, brewery tours are well patronised, and some tourists risk life and limb standing in the middle of the busy road to get the perfect photo of the brewery’s façade. We Aussies love our beer!

[The facade of the Cascade Brewery, South Hobart] 

We took our own photos of the confected façade and continued our walk on the other side of the brewery, joining the new Cascade Track. The well-constructed track took us away from the Hobart Rivulet and up the ridge between it and the Guy Fawkes Rivulet. The brewery, volunteers and professional track designers all contributed to the 2.2km track. 

[On the new Cascade Track, South Hobart] 

The professional work includes a signature John “Snapper” Hughes stone-arch bridge across a side creek. Fittingly the bridge is named after Peter Degraves: one more Cascade connection. 

[Degraves Bridge on the Cascade Track] 

For us this was where the walking proper began. At the brewery we were scarcely above 100m in altitude. The new track would take us to around 270m. Then there would be only 1000m more to go.

[*Thanks to my daughter Sally Oakley for allowing me to include excerpts from her unpublished work “Mountain Moves”.]

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