National Parks and Wildlife Service will rebuild almost all the huts damaged by the catastrophic 2019–20 summer bushfires, following an extensive assessment process which considered the significance of each structure.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager Steve Cathcart said that these important structures include 10 historic huts that were burnt despite the valiant efforts of firefighters.
'There are more than 70 huts in Kosciuszko National Park, with others across the Australian alps, that are considered to have outstanding national heritage value and significance, and as a group the huts have State Heritage significance for their historic, aesthetic and social values,' said Mr Cathcart.
'The huts are an integral part of the cultural landscape of Kosciuszko National Park demonstrating different construction materials and techniques, past land uses, travel, communication practices, past times and continue to be visited today by people enjoying the park including walkers, riders and skiers,' he said.
'Since February 2020, NPWS officers have been working to assess and record damage, preserve original features where possible and consult with groups such as the Kosciuszko Huts Association and descendants of the huts builders.
'After the loss of huts during the 2003 bushfires, changes to heritage conventions enabled the option of rebuilding the huts to retain their social significance. Even though some original fabric may be gone, the huts can be rebuilt to retain peoples’ connections with these places; from the families who built them, to current caretakers and people who visit them for recreation.
'The rebuilding program will be developed in consultation with Kosciuszko Huts Association and families associated with the huts. NPWS will enlist the aid of staff, contractors and volunteers trained in traditional construction techniques to enable continuation of heritage building skills, such as splitting slabs with a maul and froe, and log cabin construction and help keep these skills alive. NPWS is looking for additional staff to be part of the program and positions will be advertised at iworkfor.nsw.gov.au.'
NPWS has announced the list of Huts to be rebuilt subject to environmental assessment:
Resthouse at Sawyers Hill
Bradley & O'Briens
Linesman Huts - 2 huts . it is possible that only one of these will be rebuilt. No decision as yet.
Tantangara hut which suffered extensive damage will be reconstructed.
1st: Caretakers and descendants and families of the hut builders.
2nd: KHA members.
3rd: Interested members of the public.
For the ease of management, the NPWS will set up a dedicated hut rebuild programme group on VIP, separate to the general KHA VIP group.
The first rebuild will be Sawyers Rest House on the Snowy Mountains Highway. This will hopefully start at the end of January or early February. So if you are interested then please register ASAP.
Negotiations are continuing and it appears ACT PCS are willing to consider the possibility of rebuilding huts at each of the sites provided they are not on the original footprint of the destroyed huts. A lot more painstaking work is to be done to progress negotiations.
The last weekend in March 2019 turned into a snowy white winter wonderland for Andy and myself when we attended the Australian Alps Heritage Skills Weekend up at Howmans Gap on the Bogong High Plains.
Photos: Carolyn Macdonald
While volunteering on the Orange Hawkweed program this year I learnt from the local Park ranger that Bob the taxi driver in Corryong can drive people up the Cabramurra Road in winter. Coming from Adelaide this made sense to cut out the Alpine Way and reducing our drive time and distance. This was especially relevant this year as we would have been trying to drive the Alpine Way just after it had been blocked by the landslide. Not only that, Bob supplies you with a pile of yummy homemade sandwiches, tea, coffee and hot chocolate to help you on your way.
Everyone loves home-made blackberry jam. The pesky plants that can overrun a house in a few years bear, arguably, the most delicious of berries.
Gladys Weston recounted her memories of cooking in the mountains to Rosemary Curry, in an interview recorded in 1988.
We used to make lovely bread in a big camp oven, I couldn't lift it, a huge thing. You wouldn't have much fire underneath - if you did, you'd burn the bread.
In 1988, Rosemary Curry recorded the following interview with Gladys Weston.
Gladys Weston: After Pop got a letter, he'd have to light the lamp to read it, and then we'd put it out. Kerosene was dangerous to carry. We used candles.
In 1989, Rosemary Curry recorded the following interviews with Gladys Weston and Emily McGufficke.
Gladys Weston: We used a sleeping bag on the ground ... there was no hut.