Mountain Huts Preservation Society Inc

Mountain Huts Preservation Society Inc.

Hills Hut

Hills Hut is situated in a myrtle forest on a disused logging road which connects to the historic Parsons track behind Caveside – a walking track which leads to the plateau of the Great Western Tiers, via Haberles Hut and the Sandstone, and on to Lake Mackenzie.  Built from local hardwood, the sturdily constructed Hills Hut, consists of a single room measuring a little less than 4m x 5m, with an open fireplace and a couple of windows.  It was built about 1960 by private logging contractor Bruce Hill as a base for his employees in the timber industry.  Following the cessation of logging in the area, the little weatherboard hut became neglected and suffered damage and degradation due to the ravages of time and weather.  In 1979 the Deloraine Walking Club undertook the restoration of the hut as its major project, returning it to first class condition with repairs to the fireplace and windows along with the addition of sleeping bunks and a table and chairs.  Hills Hut is still standing today, more than 60 years since it was built, thanks to the efforts of the Deloraine Walking club and, more recently the Mountain Huts Preservation Society.

In September 2018, 7 members of MHPS and a PWS officer met at Hills Hut to inspect its current condition and to formulate a proposed work schedule to repair and restore the old logging hut. More than 4 decades had passed since the Deloraine Walking Club had restored the hut and it was once again in need of major repairs. Work began immediately and over the ensuing 18 months, no fewer than 16 working bees were scheduled resulting in approx. 1000 hours of voluntary work by Society members.  The first big task was the removal of floorboards to enable major work in order to restump and level the building including repairs and/or replacement of bearers and plates. The original timber flooring was reinstalled once repairs under the floor were complete. Cladding from the entire back wall was removed and replaced with new material. Some of the old material still in satisfactory condition was used to patch sections in the other walls. The original broken verandah supports were removed and new posts and frame erected and attached to a solid wooden walkway, installed along two sides of the hut – an innovation to decrease the opportunity of dirt entering the hut via muddy boots.  This concept was further enhanced with improved drainage around the building, new gutters and the installation of a rainwater tank.

New windows were installed and a new door, made to closely resemble the original, was fitted. New bunks were also erected and the wall behind the bunks was lined for added warmth and comfort. The fireplace area received considerable attention being re-bricked in preparation to accept a heater, the hearth was re-cemented while the wall around the fireplace was re-clad and a new mantle piece installed.  The original chimney was repaired and a flue fitted before the final installation of a wood heater.  One of the final tasks was repairs to the original roof and the addition of timber lining in the ceiling.

A wooden table and chairs completed the setting indoors and a couple of cross-cut saws high above the fireplace and an old meat safe tucked away on a corner shelf are poignant reminders of a bygone era. Not far from the door of the hut, attached to an old tree stump – probably the victim of a cross-cut saw – a couple of log shoes once used to haul the timber from the nearby bush are a reminder of the early logging days, pre-existing the days before Bruce Hill built his little hut for the comfort of his men.

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