Honouring huts of high country

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 25 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

THERE are hidden jewels scattered among the mountains, valleys and plateaus of Tasmania's central highlands.

They are the unique huts crafted of wood, brick and stone built by past generations to shield today's highland travellers from the harshest of weather conditions.

Author and historian Simon Cubit believes the huts are a vulnerable, finite and valuable resource.

"They are going to need continued care and attention if they are to survive," he said.

Mr Cubit and illustrator Des Murray last week launched their second book aimed at protecting and preserving these architectural gems for future generations.

Tasmanian High Country Huts: From the Central Plateaus to Cradle Mountain tells the stories of 26 huts including those at Lake Meston, Dixons Kingdom (Walls of Jerusalem), February Plains and Cradle Mountain (Kitchen).

"Many of the standing huts today are cultural relics," Mr Cubit said.

"Across the board, there are less standing huts. Fire and neglect have taken a toll. Only a small number remain," he said.

One such hut is Kitchen Hut at Cradle Mountain, which Mr Cubit regards as an "artefact of our historical attraction" to the mountain.

"When Gustav Weindorfer, and the Connells who succeeded him at Waldheim, guided people to the summit of Cradle Mountain, they would pause at a spot on the Cradle plateau beside a little creek," Mr Cubit said.

"There they would have a cup of tea, drop any unwanted gear and climb the summit.

"On the return journey, they would similarly pause for another cup of tea, collect their gear and head back to Waldheim. That spot became known as the Cradle Kitchen."

Over time, a shelter was built there and following a fatality in 1950 near Waterfall Valley on the Overland Track, the shelter was closed in and made into a hut.

"Given the heavy snowfalls that typically fall in the area (Parks) built a second storey on top of the existing structure with its own external door so that access to the hut was assured," Mr Cubit said.

He said the two-storey hut that emerged was rare in Tasmania and in mountain huts elsewhere in Australia.

Mr Cubit said maintenance of the historic huts could be expensive, and hopes the book will create connections between people and the huts.

Mr Cubit also hopes to publicise the work of the Mountain Huts Preservation Society Mountain Huts Preservation Society.

The book and a companion calendar will be in bookshops early next month and a range of other hut merchandise is available online.

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