Burnt Kosciuszko Huts to rise again from ashes

National Parks and Wildlife Service will rebuild almost all the huts damaged by the catastrophic 2019–20 summer bushfires, following an extensive assessment process which considered the significance of each structure.

National Parks and Wildlife Service officer Peter Scobie squaring off a split slab with a broad axe

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager Steve Cathcart said that these important structures include 10 historic huts that were burnt despite the valiant efforts of firefighters.

'There are more than 70 huts in Kosciuszko National Park, with others across the Australian alps, that are considered to have outstanding national heritage value and significance, and as a group the huts have State Heritage significance for their historic, aesthetic and social values,' said Mr Cathcart.

'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, past times and continue to be visited today by people enjoying the park including walkers, riders and skiers,' he said.

'Since February 2020, NPWS officers have been working to assess and record damage, preserve original features where possible and consult with groups such as the Kosciuszko Huts Association and descendants of the huts builders.

'After the loss of huts during the 2003 bushfires, changes to heritage conventions enabled the option of rebuilding the huts to retain their social significance. Even though some original fabric may be gone, the huts can be rebuilt to retain peoples’ connections with these places; from the families who built them, to current caretakers and people who visit them for recreation.

'The rebuilding program will be developed in consultation with Kosciuszko Huts Association and families associated with the huts. NPWS will enlist the aid of staff, contractors and volunteers trained in traditional construction techniques to enable continuation of heritage building skills, such as splitting slabs with a maul and froe, and log cabin construction and help keep these skills alive. NPWS is looking for additional staff to be part of the program and positions will be advertised at iworkfor.nsw.gov.au.'

Descendants and others with photographs and other historic records of these huts or those interested in volunteering or working on rebuilding these huts are encouraged to contact NPWS by emailing srhutsrebuild@environment.nsw.gov.au.