Huts in the Wilderness
Waldheim Chalet / Kelly Slater
The explorers of the Western Wilds
Look closely at the mountain ridges of the Western Wilds. You might see the faint outlines of trails forged by 19th-century men attempting to conquer the wilderness and connect the colonies. They were shepherds, miners, fishermen, hunters and cattlemen, all braving the elements to create a new life.
Some say the ghosts of these men still reside in the Tasmanian wilderness. The legacy of their fight to survive this unforgiving terrain – the weighty blows of dark winters, hot summers and thick scrub – are stitched into the fabric of Tasmanian folklore.
The rustic mountain huts these men built to protect themselves provide evidence of their stories and the paths they travelled. More than 40 huts remain, many nestled into the wilderness of the Western Wilds. A few huts are hard to find, others difficult to get to, highlighting the treacherous terrain these men endured.
To discover the huts for yourself, trace the footsteps of these men on a bushwalk or follow the lead of a local guide. These are just a handful you can walk to.
Old Pelion Hut
The tranquil alpine lakes and sweeping landscapes of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park tell a different story when the sky is thunderous and the wind howls. Halfway between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair on the Overland Track you’ll find Old Pelion Hut, built in 1917 for the manager of a nearby copper mine. After several years of unsuccessful prospecting, the miners departed and the hut was used as a shelter for trappers and diehard explorers for almost a century. Today bushwalkers can take a stroll from New Pelion Hut to view the heritage-listed hut.
Fraser Creek Hut
Hidden by moss-covered King Billy pines and ancient pandani in a cool temperate rainforest, Fraser Creek Hut was built as temporary accommodation in the 1920s. Located near the old town of Dundas, just out of Zeehan, the hut was used initially by sawmillers and later by miners and prospectors until the late 1950s. Wallace’s Prospect mine is only a short walk from the hut. The hut was abandoned from then until its rediscovery and restoration in the 1970s.
Du Cane Hut
The Du Cane Hut is the oldest structure on the Overland Track and was erected beside 2,000-year-old King Billy pines. It was built in 1910 by Patrick Hartnett. Patrick and others used it as a base while snaring in the central highlands. They would nail the skins to the walls to be dried by the heat of fire or smoke.
When visiting these historic huts, sit and reflect on the stories etched into the walls. You may be able to smell the distant hint of a burning log fire that once kept the men warm through long winter nights.