By SHERYL RAINBIRD
THIS month’s hidden gem is almost as hard to predict when you will see it as last month’s emus at the Jordan River Learning Federation School Farm. He likes the cold mornings and May to August are his favourite months to make his appearance. He is known as a Bridgewater local and in fact is quite famous, having his own Facebook page, and was even the focus of a recent question on The Chase television show.
This month’s hidden gem is none other than the Bridgewater Jerry. But what actually is the Bridgewater Jerry? According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the Bridgewater Jerry forms when katabatic winds, a type of drainage or downslope wind, push cold air down from the hills after low temperatures during the night resulting in fog on the rivers at the base of the hills. There are two river basins which meet in Bridgewater and the build-up in this area pushes the fog down the River Derwent.
We all know that Jerry is quite a traveller and often makes its way down river to visit the city and the good folks on the eastern shore, so just how did he get named? It seems there is no one explanation. According to David James, in the UTAS online historical collection, The Companion to Tasmanian History, the most likely explanation of the term ‘jerry’ is that it came with convicts from London, where it was thieves’ slang for ‘fog’. “In 1821 Governor Macquarie could not leave for Hobart until 12.30 pm due to thick fog” – is probably the first recorded Bridgewater Jerry,” David reports.
Other explanations include – a group of convicts was working on the causeway and one named Jerry was a smoker, so before long the name Bridgewater Jerry was coined. Another version has the word Jerry coming from the war with the fog being linked to the gas used by the Germans. But no matter where the name came from Jerry will remain linked to Bridgewater.
Start taking your best photos of Jerry for a photo competition coming soon from Café Connections. See the Café Connections Facebook page for details.