THE ELEVATED WALKWAY:
Farewelling the spirit of tasmania travelLers
This month we share with you our port-city's new, and architecturally exciting visitor attraction. Devonport's new Waterfront Park and elevated walkway has re-imagined our city and how we farewell those travelling aboard the Spirit of Tasmania vessels!
Words & photography by Kylie Bell
Growing up in the port-city of Devonport, there has been a long held tradition of watching and waving travellers on from the shores of the Mersey River as they leave Tasmania aboard the Spirit of Tasmania. This traditionally occurred at the mouth of the river, east or west, which opens up to the expanse of water between us and mainland Australia, Bass Strait. These moments, admiring the white and red ships sail past – including past Spirit of Tasmania vessels – invoke a sense of pride and identity for this region and city.
Just recently, however, Devonport underwent a significant river-edge, urban transformation; known as the Living City project by Lyon’s Architects. A bold vision, ten years in the making, which has ultimately developed and redefined the port-city's CBD and waterfront experience; re-orientating the city to the mouth of Mersey River through landscaped parkland and cultural spaces, a new hotel and events centre (the paranaple Convention Centre and Marketplace). Central to this project was the bold, linear elevated walkway, rising up from the new waterfront park to protrude out across the river's edge. This key architectural element and striking viewing platform, has ultimately redefined and revolutionised that Spirit farewelling experience.
On the second night of the Waterfront Park's opening, we happened to be waiting for our takeaway dinner at Pizzirani Cucina following a late evening summer swim at Coles Beach, a popular Italian restaurant on the edge of the park. We had been admiring the new parkland and nighttime lighting, including the new addition of Mr Good Guy, our new park-facing restaurant, where patrons were illustrated through large, golden windows enjoying their meals; an unusual and strange new addition to modern regional city. Our thoughts were disrupted, however, with the cry of a boat's horn.
Something clicked... the new walkway!
Receiving our meals, we decidedly placed our food in the car, and hurried back across the street, feeling not dissimilar in our childish gait and excitement in those younger years. We mounted the timber steps to the elevated walkway. Cresting the last step, we realised we were only two of many others who had realised the same thing. This included some above us, as we peered upwards to the hotel inhabitants who stood on their balconies, waiting and staring to a place we couldn't just see yet.
Rushing along beneath the Devonport Novotel and architectural pillar lighting, we quickened our pace as the Spirit’s horn sounded in the evening air ahead. We moved like shadows, in and out of the light, along the timber projected walkway, as dusk deepened. We reached the end as the Spirit began its river turn.
Watching the Spirit of Tasmania slowly glide past our bodies, mere meters away, amongst the silhouetted crowd of locals and visitors was breathtaking. The architectural vision and the new identity that this port-city had achieved was fully realised at that moment. Remembering the nostalgia on those childhood days, the admiration for both experiential architectural design and our maritime heritage stirred emotions in my belly and up to my throat. The height of our bodies were at a similar above-sea-level height to those travellers peering back from onboard the Spirit of Tasmania's outdoor, lower deck walkways. We stood in silence and admiration – internally agape and in awe - behind the silhouetted crowd in front of us. The warm glow of the ship lit up the faces and beams of boat travellers as we all peered back at them. I wondered if they too felt this was a strange, yet, exciting encounter. As the ship continued to glide, a flurry of hands waved from both sides as well-wishes were yelled out across the few meters between, for a safe journey north to country Victoria and mainland Australia.
Close by Attractions:
Bass Strait Maritime Museum
The Market Place
Southern Wild Distillery
STAY WITH US
Located in the centre of the Tasting Trail, on Tasmania's Central North Coast. The perfect place to explore our region.