MAY 2018 | Tara Ulbrich
IF THE water level is low enough you can spot the footprint remains of a hut at Lake Mackenzie. However, thanks to a joint project between the Mountain Huts Preservation Society (MHPS) and the Parks and Wildlife Service, it isn’t necessary to rely on low rainfall to have a lived experience of our highland history.
On Saturday the 7th of April over 250 people flocked to the opening of the Sandy Lake Hut Replica Build. Some walked the edge of the water. Others tramped across the mud, removing their boots to wade, or catch a ride in a canoe.
Guests who needed assistance were flown over the lake by helicopter provided by PWS and Tasmanian Helicopters. It was all in honour of 2400 hours of volunteer labour across forty working bees, resulting in this historically significant resource for everyone.
Perhaps fishing and hiking tourism are thought of as modern pursuits, but the orginal hut was built to encourage visitors to the Chudleigh Lakes area way back in 1903.
According to the MHPS President, Roger Nutting, “groups like ours and the Tasmanian Mountain Cattlemen Association were born out of a need to promote this largely unheralded history.”
The MHPS will celebrate it’s thirtieth birthday this year and, as a show of support, several Mountain Cattlemen and Women rode in to the launch, their horses adding a majestic presence to the event.
Park’s Ranger Rob Buck referred to the joint initiative saying “We could see the goals we shared and working together we’ve been able to achieve much more.”
As Philip Crowden, guest speaker on the day, shared tales of his father and himself together in the highlands, there were many knowing nods and even the odd chuckle.
Four generations of Joe Parson’s own family were present as he cut the baling twine ‘ribbon’. His first night in the original Sandy Lake hut was eighty years ago.
What remains now is a shingle roofed, stone chimney, two-roomed cabin with fitted benches and some hooks to hang a wet coat. In the future, there will be more generations smiling with memories of their time in this beautiful alpine setting.
Also launched on the day was the book The History and Rebuilding of the Sandy Lake Hut at Lake Mackenzie, compiled by Margaret Howe.
The publication gives an account of the work of the Society on this and other builds. For more information, please call Margaret on 6367 8181.
Photo | Anna Dunham