Huts with history: 10 Australian alpine huts you should visit

I love Australia’s alpine huts for their incredible locations, their simple construction, their rustic feel, and the way they just seem to fit into the landscape.

Even better, though, is the way they ignite the imagination. I can’t visit a hut without imagining the adventurous spirits that have walked there before me, the stories shared around their fireplaces, and the amazing tales of survival they’ve made possible.

There are around 200 huts scattered throughout Australia’s alpine regions. Though some of them are much newer, others date back as far as the 1860’s.

For over 150 years, they’ve given shelter to cattlemen and women, gold miners, foresters, hydro-workers, fishermen, miners, skiers, and bushwalkers. Unquestionably, they’re an icon of European Australia.

Unlike in other countries where huts are setup for people to sleep in, most of Australia’s huts are provided for emergency shelter only, but they are traditionally left socked with matches and a small amount of firewood and kindling. Some hikers even leave behind emergency food rations. Relying on them is discouraged because hikers may arrive to find them full or even damaged by severe weather.

I’ve chosen 10 of my favourites for your viewing pleasure but feel free to suggest yours in the comments below.

 

Craig’s Hut, Mount Stirling (VIC)

Craigs hut
Image credit: “Craigs Hut” by jaydaley, on flickr

Okay, so maybe you don’t consider a hut built 35 years ago to be ‘historic’, but the original Craig’s Hut was built as a cattle drovers hut for the 1982 movie, The Man from Snowy River. Although I don’t actually remember the movie that well (I was probably under 10 the last time I watched it), nobody can deny that it’s a classic Australian movie.

The current Craigs Hut is actually its third incarnation, first re-built in 1993 after years of neglect and harsh alpine weather, and then again in 2006 after being burned down in a bushfire. The hut now has a tin roof, more easily maintainable than the original with its bark roof.

Check out this video for some more info…

 

Can I hike there?

Craig’s Hut is accessible by 4WD tracks, but there are also a couple of options for hiking there, one being the 3 kilometre / 2 hour return hike from the Circuit Road Picnic Area which, from what I hear, is as close as you can get to Craig’s Hut without a 4WD (see “Craig’s Hut Walk” in DSE’s Mount Stirling Forest Notes for more info). Another longer option is the hike from Telephone Box Junction, but the best information I can find about that is over on Andrew Bishop’s Trails and Tracks blog. You’re going to need a good topographic map.

 

Bradley & O’brien’s Hut, Kosciuszko National Park (NSW)

Orange Hawkweed Program, Kosciuszko National Park
Image credit: “Orange Hawkweed Program, Kosciuszko National Park” by Office of Environment & Heritage, on flickr

Two graziers by the names of Pat O’Brien and Jack Bradley arranged for this hut to be built in the summer of 1952. Both men jointly held the snow lease for the area surrounding the hut, so it provided shelter for them and their labourers until 1958 when grazing was thankfully prohibited.

Can I hike there?

Bradley & O’Brien’s Hut is situated on the Cabramurra – Khancoban road between Tumut Ponds and Tooma Dam, so you certainly won’t need to hike to get there. While you’re visiting, though, it’s worth checking out the multitude of day and multi-day hiking options in the park. I haven’t done any hiking in Kosciuszko myself, so I’d suggest hitting up the Bushwalk Australia forum for suggestions.

 

Gooandra Hut, Kosciuszko National Park (NSW)

Goonandra Hut Built 1913 A.D.
Image credit: “Goonandra Hut Built 1913 A.D.” by JB Maybury, on flickr

Miners initially built a small hut here in the 1860’s. However, the only part of this left standing now is part of the chimney which can be seen about 20 metres from the existing hut. This is one of the oldest structures in Kosciuszko National Park.

It wasn’t until 1913 that Gooandra Hut was built by a sheep grazier, who continued to use the old mining hut as his kitchen and also built a woolshed and several other structures nearby (the ruins of which can also still be found). Gooandra Hut was restored in the 1990’s but is still very similar to its original construction.

Can I hike there?

Gooandra Hut is accessible via a 9.4-kilometre fire trail which makes for okay walking, but much better snowshoeing. See this Trails in Kosciuszko guide for more details.

 

Kitchen Hut – Cradle Mountain National Park (TAS)

Kitchen Hut, Cradle Mountain National Park, Nikon D800
Image credit: “Kitchen Hut, Cradle Mountain National Park” by Luke Zeme, on flickr

By the early 1900’s, guided trips were already being led on what is now known as the Overland Track, and it was regularly being hiked without guidance by hunters, miners, and recreational walkers alike. By the 1930’s community concern was growing about them getting lost, so this is probably what led to the construction of Kitchen Hut by the Connell family in 1939. Its name was taken from a nearby creek, which has been known as The Kitchen because it was regularly used as a place to stop and boil a billy before or after the ascent of Cradle Mountain.

Can I hike there?

You sure can. Kitchen hut is on Tasmania’s Overland Track. Surely everyone’s heard of it but, for those who don’t know, it’s a 65-kilometre trail that usually takes about 5-6 days to complete.

 

Vallejo Gantner Hut, Alpine National Park (VIC)

Vallejo Gantner Hut
Image credit: “Vallejo Ganter Hut” by ccdoh1, on flickr

This is one of few memorial huts in Australia, built in 1971 in memory of Vallejo Gantner, an adventurous young fellow who died in the mountains in 1962, aged only 19. It’s one of only two A-frame huts in Victoria, and one of only three architecturally designed huts. It’s strategically located as an overnight stop between Mt. Howitt and the Crosscut Saw for walkers on the Australian Alps Walking Track, and features spectacular views of Crosscut Saw.

Can I hike there?

As mentioned, Vallejo Gantner Hut is on the Australian Alpine Walking Trail (AAWT), between Mt. Howitt
and the Crosscut Saw. It’s also accessible from the 14 kilometre / 5 hour (return) Mount Howitt Walk (see Parks Victoria’s Park Note).

 

Four Mile Hut, Kosciuszko National Park (NSW)

Four Mile Hut
Image credit: “Four Mile Hut” by Phil Hart, on flickr

Originally used as a mining residence for gold panners, Four Mile Hut was built by Robert Hughes in 1937. It was built from scrap materials left lying around from mines in the area, mostly from the Elaine Mine which Hughes himself managed from 1926 to 1936.

Can I hike there?

Yep, the 10 kilometre / 4 hour (return) Four Mile Hut Walk starts from Mount Selwyn Resort. See the NSW Parks & Wildlife Service website for more information.

 

Cope Hut, Alpine National Park (VIC)

Cope's Hut
Image credit: “Cope’s Hut” by matt brand, on flickr

Another of the rare architect-designed huts in Australia, Cope Hut was built by the Ski Club of Victoria in 1929 after skiing in Victoria experienced a surge in popularity during the 1920’s. It was so large and comfortable that it was dubbed ‘The Menzies of the high plains’. It continues to be used by skiers and bushwalkers to this day.

Can I hike there?

There are a few options for hiking to Cope Hut. Parks Victoria have a Park Note that gives a couple of ideas, starting with one option that’s only 500 metres / 15 minutes (return). A good topographic map of the area will give you some longer ideas.

 

Seaman’s Hut, Kosciuszko National Park (NSW)

Seaman's Hut
Image credit: “Seaman’s Hut” by Owen Thomas, on flickr

This stone hut was built in 1929 as a memorial to another young man, Laurie Seaman, who died of exposure while skiing at the location of the hut. His parents paid for the hut to be built, in the hope that future visitors to the park would use it as shelter to avoid a similar tragedy. Laurie Seaman’s skiing companion, Evan Hayes, wasn’t found until months after the tragedy when warmer weather returned and allowed the search to recommence.

Can I hike there?

Seaman’s Hut can be accessed on foot from Thredbo, Charlotte Pass or Guthega. It’s only a 1.5-kilometre detour off the Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk. I’d still advise bringing along a good topographic map that covers the area’s walking tracks.

 

Wallace Hut, Alpine National Park (VIC)

Snowgum grove
Image credit: “Snowgum Grove” by matt brand, on flickr

One of the oldest huts in the Alpine National Park, Wallace Hut was built in 1889 by three Irish brothers, Arthur, William and Stewart Wallace, who held a grazing lease in the area. It provided shelter to the cattlemen working there for many years, before being handed over to the State Electricity Commission in the 1920’s, and then the Boy Scout Association in the 1940’s.

Can I hike there?

Wallace Hut is another one with a few options. A couple of them are covered in one of Parks Victoria’s Park Notes (the shortest is 1.5 kilometres / 45 minutes return), but you’d be best checking out a good topographic map before you make your decision.

 

Pendergast Hut, Alpine National Park (VIC)

Pendergast Hut
Image credit: “Pendergast Hut” by Joel Bramley, on flickr

Strangely, I haven’t been able to find out anything about Pendergast Hut. While I remember admiring it and its incredible views on my last visit to Mount Buller, I don’t recall seeing an information board, and even the Mount Buller Ski Resort website makes no mention of it. I had to include it, though, because I love this photo.

If you know anything about this one, please let me know in the comments below. If I find out anything elsewhere, I’ll come back and fill in the blanks.

Can I hike there?

Pendergast Hut is perched right beside the carpark near the Mount Buller summit, so you don’t need to hike there. However, there are a whole bunch of other hiking trails nearby to explore, some of which depart from this very carpark. Check out the Walking Trail Map from the Mount Buller website for details. Little Buller is a favourite of mine (but I haven’t written about it yet).

 

Have you got any better huts in mind? Got anything at all to add? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.

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5 Responses to “Huts with history: 10 Australian alpine huts you should visit”

  1. Tim
    March 29, 2016 at 3:21 am #

    Great read. My favourite is Oldfields Hut in northern kozzy.

  2. Ken
    March 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    I would add Pretty Plain, one of the few log cabins and Wheelers Hut http://khuts.org/index.php/the-huts/kosciuszko-national-park/760-wheelers-hut, a beautiful slab hut. Pretty Plain http://khuts.org/index.php/the-huts/kosciuszko-national-park/680-pretty-plain-hut didn’t survive the 2002 fire but was rebuilt. Both are near the Tooma reservoir in Kosciusko NP.

    • Neil Fahey
      March 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

      Hey Ken,

      Thanks for the tips! Will have to check them out.

      Cheers
      Neil

  3. Adriaan Homburg
    March 24, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    Love the article. The huts are one of my favorite things about the high country. I think my favorite hut is Cleve Cole hut which is on the way to the summit of Mount Bogong.

    • Neil Fahey
      March 25, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

      Thanks Adriaan! Mine too. I love Bogong so can’t believe I didn’t think to include Cleve Cole!

      Cheers
      Neil

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