The Sandy Bay Rivulet winds its way secretly through one of the most beautiful corners of Hobart.
Its hidden beauty and wonder are known to only the very few people whose properties access the brook, at least where it courses through its most dramatic section in a deep gully running parallel to the Waterworks Rd.
The rivulet might have been in the past the local residents’ closely guarded secret but there are many in the community who are now seeking to have it opened up to the public, including the Waterworks Landcare group and the Friends of the Sandy Bay Rivulet.
Not for them the “Nimby” (Not in My Backyard) stance, which blights so many ambitious proposals to share among the community areas of land with natural and heritage values owned and controlled by just a few.
Hobart Council is looking again at an ambitious plan first mooted a few years back to construct a footpath along the rivulet from the playing fields at Parliament St in Dynnyrne, to Romilly St in South Hobart. Here the proposed track would connect to the Pipeline Track.
The term “nimby” has a personal resonance, simply because the proposed footpath would run across a piece of land I have claimed as my own, the riverbank which divides my garden from the rivulet itself. Not that I am complaining.
The rivulet and its prolific birdlife have formed the basis of many of the On the Wing columns I have written over the years so I can hardly justify regarding this precious piece of Hobart greenery as my own. The rivulet and its riparian vegetation are, in fact, home to 11 of the 12 Tasmanian bird species found nowhere else on earth.
Financial constraints have put the proposed track on hold for a number of years but plans to construct the walkway, with the provision of council funds to pay for it, are firmly taking shape.
It would be built in three phases. The first would follow a natural area of open space between Parliament St and Linton Ave. The next section would follow the rivulet along Waterworks Rd to Romilly Street, from where steps would be built to link the trail to the Pipeline Track leading to the Waterworks Reserve.
The track would be of immense value to the wider community, from both a wildlife and historical point of view. Not only does the rivulet form a wildlife corridor, it follows in part the route which Charles Darwin took to climb kunanyi/Mt Wellington on his visit to Hobart in 1836.
At the bottom of my garden, in fact, are the remains of the ford where the old Huon packhorse trial accessing the mountain crossed from a particularly steep side of the Waterworks Valley.
I often sit at this spot, imaging how Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory, would have viewed this beautiful location 180 years before me, listening to our endemic green rosellas, yellow wattlebirds and yellow-throated honeyeaters singing about him.