The huts of the High Country are many and varied, and are very much a part of Australian folklore, being so integral to the story of the Australian stockman. This was highlighted in the movie The Man From Snowy River that featured a hut located in the Victorian High Country (a totally mythical hut and built purely for the film) which, after the film crew had departed, became an icon and it’s mandated removal was challenged by an determined group of people from nearby Mansfield who wanted to preserve the hut and all that it represented. They succeeded and the hut subsequently became a major tourist venue. Unfortunately, Australian bushfires had more say in the hut’s survival than the Department of Environment and the original, as well as further rebuilt huts, were totally destroyed. The latest version is somewhat more fireproof and still draws the crowds.
Many of these High Country huts are accessible by vehicle, but there are many more that can only be reached by foot, horseback or the like. Recent bushfires have destroyed many iconic huts and some of these have also been rebuilt, or afforded greater protection, in order to preserve part of Australia’s history. There are many well known huts throughout the High Country that owe their recognition, not to a movie, but to the cattlemen that built and used these huts as part of their annual muster in the High Country, bringing cattle down from the mountains before winter closed in.
Huts can be pretty rough when it comes to accommodation and, considering that some huts may have just an uneven, dirt, floor and substantial natural air-conditioning, they wouldn’t be that great for sleeping in versus a tent, and then some huts can be absolutely salubrious. Though if the weather was utterly foul, as it can be in the High Country, even the worst hut can make for a warm abode while the rain and wind bellows outside.
Huts also come in many and varied stages of repair or disrepair so, depending on weather, it’s often a fairly easy decision as to whether to stay or move on and look for something better. However, looks can at times be deceiving.
The one surprising thing is that most of these huts haven’t been wantonly destroyed; graffiti being the main feature identifying that humans have been in residence.
Then there are those huts that simply hang on to dear life, waiting for that fateful bushfire or storm to finally end a piece of history.
These are but a few of the huts that I’ve visited over the years, some of which no longer exist and others that have changed following renovations (of sorts) or been rebuilt entirely after bushfires. Despite the nature and condition of a hut, it’s always a good feeling when you come across one during your travels or especially at the end of a long day of driving (it represents a location where it was worth building a hut).