Scattered throughout the Australian Alps are more than a hundred historic huts. They date back as far as the 1860s. Many were built as shelters by stockmen grazing their cattle on high country pastures. Others housed fishermen, gold prospectors, foresters, workers on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, skiers and bushwalkers. Today they are used as emergency shelters for skiers and bushwalkers caught out in the changeable mountain weather.
The huts are the antithesis of luxury. Most are simple corrugated iron or wood constructions. Very few are easy to get to. They are tucked away in the back country, far from roads and other services. Over many years of skiing, bushwalking and mountain biking David and I have come across a half dozen or so of these huts. With a few exceptions they are a challenge to find and it is always fun when we come across one. We have never camped out overnight so all the huts in this post can be reached in a day's bushwalk or mountain bike ride from the nearest road.
Huts in Victoria -
Cope Hut was built in 1929 by the Ski Club of Victoria. In summer it is one of the most accessible huts in the mountains. When the Bogong High Plains Rd beyond Falls Creek is open you can park at the Bogong chalet car park and find Cope Hut 500 metres along the track. When the road is closed but clear enough of snow to cycle on, park at the Rocky Valley Dam Wall and bike or hike about 9kms to the turn off to the hut.
Note: The Bogon High Plains Rd is closed in winter and early spring. When it opens each year varies according to when the last of the snow melts.
Positively modern compared to many of the other High Country huts Faithful Hut was built in 1962. The Faithful family mustered brumbies (wild horses) and pastured cattle in the High Plains.
The Langford West Aqueduct Trail
The most scenic way to see Cope, Wallace and Faithfull Huts is to bike or bushwalk along the Langford West Aqueduct Trail. For my blog post on the aqueduct trail click here - here
The original Fitzgerald Hut was built in 1903 by George Silas Fitzgerald. Destroyed by fire in 1991 it was rebuilt using salvaged and recycled timber. Nestled in a large clearing, three to four hours hike from the Bogong High Plains Road, it is a great place to stop for lunch or to camp overnight.
Even on a clear day the hut is not easy to find. I would hate to be looking for it in a blizzard. The best way to approach it by mountain bike is along the Langfords East Aqueduct Trail, then follow the signs. When you come to the sign which says 'Fitzgerald Hut 300 m' you have about twice that distance to go.
|Inside Fitzgerald Hut - There was a large fireplace in the corner out of shot of the camera.|
|The 300 m distance is not accurate.|
The first hut here was built by Kyran Marum and Jack Platt in 1901. The second by Patrick J Kelly also in 1901. In 1956 the hut was burnt down and replaced with a State Electricity Commission (SEC) hut moved from a nearby site. The SEC hut was probably originally built in about 1928.
Kelly Hut is even more difficult to find than Fitzgerald. We have stumbled across it twice now but both times the location of the hut did not accord with where we thought we were according to our topographic maps.
JB Plain Hut
JB Plain Hut is a relative newcomer. It was built in 1978 as a Forests Commission hut, although there was an earlier hut nearby built in 1934 by the Omeo Ski Club. The early hut was demolished in 1989. The hut is only a few hundred metres from the Great Alpine Road at JB Plain, west of Dinner Plain. David and I came across it while cycling the Dinner Plain to Hotham Trail. You can read my blog post on the cycle here.
|JB Plain Hut|
Wire Plain Howard's Hut
Like JB Plain Hut, Wire Plain Hut is easy to reach, being only a few hundred metres from the Great Alpine Road, east of Mt Hotham. It was built by Bill Howard in 1962 as a cattleman's hut and is still used today by cattlemen.
|Wire Plain Hut. It is hard to believe looking at this photo but Wire Plain Hut has a carpeted living area.|
Huts in New South Wales
Geehi is the only hut I am aware of that you can drive right up to in a two-wheeled drive car. Take the Alpine Way west of Thredbo toward Khancoban and turn toward Geehi Flats Campground about 47 kms along. The road is closed in winter and early spring. Geehi was built in 1952 by the Nankervis brothers as a fishing and grazing shelter. In the late afternoons there are always large numbers of kangaroos grazing nearby - you can't miss them.
Although David and I have walked and cycled past it many times I don't have a photo of Seaman's Hut, at least one I can find, but I couldn't finish this post without mentioning it. Seaman's Hut is beside the Summit Road leading to Mt Kosciusko, about two-thirds of the way along from Charlotte's Pass. It was built in 1929.
Laurie Seaman and Evan Hayes perished in a blizzard on 14 August 1928 after skiing to the summit of Mt Kosciusko. They were Australia's first recorded skiing deaths. Laurie Seaman's body was found very close to where the hut is now. Construction of the hut was financed by his American parents as a memorial to their son and to prevent others suffering the same tragedy. The hut has saved countless lives in the ensuing years.
More information about Australia's high country huts can be found at the websites of the Kosciusko Huts Association and the Victoria High Country Huts Association.
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