25 October 2021

Historic Kosciuszko huts to be faithfully rebuilt after Black Summer bushfire damage

| Damien Larkins
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NPWS officer Peter Scobie squaring off a split slab with a broad axe

Traditional skills like slab splitting will be used with a broad axe. Photo: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Megan Bowden.

Snowy Valleys locals are welcoming news that some of Kosciusko National Park’s most important historic huts that were damaged in the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020 will be rebuilt.

Former Member for Monaro Peter Cochrane was in a helicopter as the bushfires hit and saw the flames engulf the historic structures.

“It was heartbreaking to watch them burn,” he said.

“There was little that could be done due to the ferocity of the fires and the intensity of the smoke.”

READ ALSO Injured horses and destroyed huts – how Kosciuszko fared the fires

However, the good news is the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has announced it will rebuild almost all of the huts damaged in the Black Summer bushfires.

NPWS area manager Steve Cathcart said that includes 10 huts of historical significance

“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 and pastimes,” he said in a statement.

“[They] continue to be visited today by people enjoying the park, including walkers, riders and skiers.”

Destroyed Delaney's Hut after bushfire

The remains of historic Delaneys Hut following the Black Summer bushfires. Photo: Michelle Brown.

Mr Cathcart said the huts’ original features will be preserved where possible, and will be rebuilt using traditional skills.

“NPWS will enlist the aid of staff, contractors and volunteers trained in traditional construction techniques to enable continuation of heritage building skills,” he said.

“[This includes] splitting slabs with a maul and froe, and log cabin construction to help keep these skills alive.”

Mr Cochrane welcomed the news as he’s had a connection to the huts his whole life.

“A lot of those huts that are up there are almost spiritually associated with myself and my family,” he said.

“We’ve got a very close association with all of them.”

Destroyed Rest House Sawyers Hill after bushfire

The Rest House Sawyers Hill was another victim of the Black Summer bushfires. Photo: Michelle Brown.

Mr Cochrane also said locals with the right skills and history in the region should be hired to do the reconstruction work.

“After the 2003 fires, there were locals engaged in the rebuilding of the huts,” he said.

“There has to be a passion in the reconstruction of these, and the passion will stem from the historic connection.”

Anyone with photographs and other records of the huts at Kosciusko National Park, or people who are interested in helping rebuild them, can email the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service at [email protected].

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