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Inside Wallace Hut 2014

Inside Wallace Hut  2014

(From G Butler Alpine Huts study)
Built in c1889 by the Wallace brothers (Arthur, William, & Stewart) from snow gum slabs and woollybut shingles, this hut is the oldest known surviving on the Bogong High Plains{ van der Knijff: 49; Boadle (1983): 49 date 1898}. Another hut reputed to be of a comparable age was Horsehair Hut (rebuilt, since burnt) { see Historic Buildings Council file}. In later years it was known by bushwalkers as `Seldom Seen’ because of its dense snow gum environs.

David and Henrietta Wallace came to the Kergunyah (a `camping place’) area, on the Little River, 12 miles east of Yackandandah, after 1869 { Neale, Carroll}. Their sons held grazing leases on the High-Plains later in the century{ Neale }. Stewart Wallace held the Bogong High-Plains `J’ grazing lease 1890-1908, and `C18′ 1908-1914; William held High-Plains `G’ lease, 1887-1908 and `C18′, 1908-14{ Cabena: 172-3, Fig.3.5}.

The hut was built to serve these grazing leases, with the woollybut shingles being cut from a site 350m east of the hut in a gully occupied by a branch of the Big River, and the slabs or palings being cut from snow gum in the area. The hearth was a flat stone (1.3×0.6m x0.178m) dragged from the Pretty Valley using a forked sapling as a sled{ ibid. cites Holth: 84-91; Siseman,pp.24-5; Stephenson (1982) pp.278, 284 (1980): 234-7}. Then the chimney was of rubble stone to wall plate height (1.8m) and iron sheeting on a timber frame above. The floor was of split slabs, and the walls once lined with hessian and later with tar-paper; furniture includes a bush table, sleeping platform, and rustic fire-side settle{ ibid.}.

Roy Weston’s plan of the hut in the early 1930s showed a chimney at one end next to the door and double bunks at the other with a single lower level bunk between{ Stephenson (1982): 284}. The hut measured 17’x9′ and was described as being one mile north-east of Cope Hut, at 5750′ above sea level and in `delightful surroundings’. It was built of a snow gum frame, with slab sides and a roof of mountain ash shingles. The walls were lined with Malthoid internally but the hut was then no longer weatherproof{ ibid.}. Cleve Cole recorded this hut in the 1930s as measuring 15’x12′(4.5×3.7m) with double shelf bunks at one end and fireplace at the other. It was then some 7 miles from Young’s Hut{ Stephenson: 269}.

In the late 1920s, the hut was acquired by the SEC, being occupied by Joe Holston from 1928 whose job was to erect snow and rain gauges and make them operational{ Napier: 36; Holth, COTHC: 115}. It was reroofed with corrugated iron and the chimney renewed in c1938 for continued occupation by its staff; the builder was Joe Holston{ Van der Knijff; Napier: 36, Holston there 1928-41; T 101196 Waters letter to Lands Dept. 29.2.40}.

Reputedly stockmen complained about the SEC’s continuous occupation of the hut such that a completely new hut was constructed for Holston at the side of the Cottage track (burnt c1940-1){ Holth, COTHC: 114}. The Rover section of the Boy Scouts Association then took on the responsibility for the maintenance of the hut, as part of their Hut Service Section program, by purchasing the completely new iron on the roof from the SEC engineer, Romuld, for 12 pounds 10 shillings. The scouts consulted Window Greenwood who leased the grazing block surrounding the hut, agreeing that the scouts would maintain it for visitors when Greenwood was not using it{ T 101196 }. This arrangement was further formalised in the 1970s{ National Trust of Australia (Vic) 1833: letter SEC 10.8.73 re arrangement with scouts via Dr WH Wilkinson; `Chronicle Despatch’ 29.11.73}.

However, in the interim, the SEC still used the hut with Tony and Skippy St. Elmo Beveridge staying there in 1946 while working with Stan Trimble who took over at the Cottage (later Wilkinson Lodge) from the SEC engineer, Romuld, in 1942{ Holth, COTHC: 115}.

The National Trust classified the hut in 1967{ National Trust of Australia (Vic) 1833}. The National Parks Service noted this in their 1983 report, stating that it was an important refuge and destination for walkers and skiers and under continuing maintenance by the Rover Scouts{ NPS (1983): 46}.

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