Culture and heritage

Heritage of NSW

Cabins & huts

New South Wales has seen many different types of huts and cabins in its recent history:

  • Aboriginal bark shelters (or gunyahs), which Captain Cook described as 'huts' when he sailed into Botany Bay in 1770.
  • The simple, flimsy structures first built by the settlers and convicts. These were followed by one-roomed huts and later more permanent structures - cabins, houses, and public buildings.
  • The dimly lit huts of miners, graziers, and pastoralists, in the middle of the bush. These huts are symbols of ingenuity and isolation. They have dirt floors and roughly hewn walls, and are made from whatever was available at the time.
  • The bright and sunny cabins along the coast, nestled under steep cliffs. With gardens and sandy surfboards leaning next to the front door, these are places of artists, poets, and young people.

The NPWS manages over 100 huts and cabins across the state. Most of them are very simply built. They range from single rooms with dirt floors, to neat little houses with several rooms. Many were used by the same families for many years.

Some huts have connections with famous people. For example Kylie's hut, in Crowdy Bay National Park, was built for author Kylie Tennant in the 1960s. But most cabins and huts are with pastoralists, miners and, to a lesser extent, holidaymakers.

The huts and cabins are used today for all sorts of purposes, ranging from emergency shelters to holiday destinations. You'll find them in many national parks - perhaps the best-known ones are in Kosciuszko and Royal national parks.

What people have said

It was the wettest bloody camp I ever had, Alec and I camped there for four days in the tent. On the third day I decided to build a bit of a galley, so I got four sheets of iron and stuck them up on four forky sticks. That was the best shelter we ever had out there.

Kidman 1881, in Hueneke 1982, Huts of the High Country, Australian National University Press, ACT: 122

Useful links

Although we can't guarantee the accuracy of the information, you might find these websites useful:

Page last updated: 12 December 2011