Mountain Huts Preservation Society Inc

Mountain Huts Preservation Society Inc.

Sir John Falls Hut – Gordon River

The site at Sir John Falls Hut has been used since the 1880s when it was known as Jones Landing.  The present building was constructed by the Hydro Electric Commission in the 1970s and by 1984 it was managed by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. Following the Franklin Dam issue and the proclamation of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, the hut was used as a base for PWS Rangers during the summer months.  However, when attention turned to other aspects of the Gordon River, notably the support structures required for the rapid expansion of the cruise boat industry, maintenance of the “old Hydro Hut” was minimal and by 2012 the hut was in decline.

In 2016 David Clarke, an ex PWS Ranger, approached the PWS Heritage Branch and together with Peter Rigozzi, the Heritage Officer at the time, formulated a plan for a community effort to repair the hut.  Discussions took place with Mountain Huts Preservation Society as well as Friends of the Franklin River Wildcare Group for support with the proposed project. Funding was secured and major on-site work commenced in March 2020. A community effort was conducted and coordinated under the guidance and supervision of David Clarke and Peter Rigozzi and the mammoth project was completed 3 years later.  The tasks identified as being necessary were wide and varied – not least of which was the realization that every stump on the building had failed and a new central bearer was required to adequately support the floor. Added to this was the removal of mould and mildew throughout the building, jammed windows and doors which needed replacing, guttering to be replaced and verandah beams and posts repaired and re-aligned. MHPS provided experienced and skilled volunteers to undertake the necessary major structural repairs, providing two shifts of 7 days duration with up to 7 volunteers per shift. Later, a couple of MHPS volunteers along with the Heritage Officer made an additional trip to install a new internal beam.  David Clarke was instrumental in attracting a couple of small grants to assist with transit costs for Wildcare Volunteers and to pay for the manufacture of new insect screens for all the windows and doors.  West Coast Yacht Charters provided free travel to MHPS volunteers working onsite as well as carting tools and equipment to/from the remote work site.  The MHPSociety also contributed bunks for the hut along with other helpful additions including several coat racks. The final accomplishment was when MHPS President Eddie Firth secured support for a replacement roof.  By late March 2023 the final job was to replace the roof cladding and finish off all outstanding works, including a small new deck underneath the external clothesline and the western wall repaired and painted.

 On 2nd April 2023, an entry in the log-book states that the Sir John Falls Hut project was fully completed.

In total the refurbishment of the Hut took 34 days of on-site work, contributed by a total of 22 volunteers who donated over 800 hours to the cause.

Nearby Sir John Falls is named after Sir John Dodds (1848-1914), a politician and Chief Justice of Tasmania.

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