Standing within some of the mountain and high country regions of The Great Western Tiers and Central Plateau are sites which hold an aspect to a unique part of the Tasmanian heritage not commonly known, the mountain huts.

Men of the Mountains and their Mountain Huts

by Carol Haberle

Today these mountain huts bring back the cultural traditions that are fast becoming a part of Tasmanian folklore. The early years of the 19th century saw many men trekking into the mountains and forests, as far as the plateau regions, in search of a way to provide for their families, or to supplement their farm income, times were tough. Shepherds and cattlemen searched out regions to graze their sheep and cattle, miners went in search of precious minerals, forest workers went in search of timber and snarers went in search of possums and wallabies for the skin trade.


 

Many of these men called the mountains their home for much of the year, regardless of the seasons, the environment on the mountains was harsh, so a need for shelter saw them building simple, rustic huts. Huts were even built for fishermen and bushwalkers to shelter in. Many of the huts are no longer in existence, many no more than a pile of stones and rotted timber… but some have been preserved, thanks to the efforts of The Mountain Huts Preservation Society. The Society have a partnership agreement with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, and also have members who are involved with the Deloraine Walking Club, Tasmanian Mountain Cattlemen’s Association and North West Walking Club.

Mountain Huts - Great Western Tiers
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Views of the Great Western Tiers

Dedicated to Preservation and Protection

The Mountain Huts Preservation Society Inc. consists of a group of dedicated volunteers, both community members and users of the high country, who came together with one common goal, to preserve and protect the mountain huts. Many of the original members came from within the Mole Creek and Deloraine and districts, people whose heritage had direct links to those men who worked the mountain all those years ago. This was their heritage, a legacy passed down by their forefathers. Today this society maintains, restores and preserves these historical huts, researches and records the cultural history and promotes the conservation of the natural environment within the Tasmanian Central Plateau and Great Western Tiers regions.

Mountain Huts - Rainforest
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Magic of the Great Western Tiers rainforest

Built by Ancestors…

One such hut, located on The Great Western Tiers is Haberle’s Hut. Built by Bill Haberle and his sons, Gordon and Bill, during the Great Depression, around 1931, they used it when snaring and trapping in the area. This hut holds special significance to my husband Kev, for it was built by some of his ancestors. Kev’s ancestors originally came to Tasmania from Germany back in 1858 and settled in the Caveside/Mole Creek region.


 

While doing a little family history research several years ago we came across an old newspaper article with mention of this hut, so we then set out to find out if it still existed. It did, and it was here we learned that Charles Crowden, along with Caveside resident, Kelvin Howe and the Deloraine Walking Club (formed in 1972 to promote walking into remote and wilderness areas for enjoyment and challenge) spent 17 months between June 1981 and October 1982 in rain, sunshine and snow restoring this quaint little trappers hut high up in the tiers. A couple of years ago Kev and I set in motion plans for a mountain trek to visit Haberle’s Hut.

Mountain Huts - Parsons Road, Haberle's Hut Trek
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Top: Parsons Road Bottom: Kev points out the chosen trek

Trek to Haberle’s Hut…

The start of this trek takes place on Parsons Road at Caveside, 10 minutes south of Mole Creek. A short drive along a gravel road leads you to a signposted car parking area, this is the start of Parsons Track, a track not created for the enjoyment of bushwalkers, but created over many years by several generations of families of both early settlers and those who worked the mountain… hunters, trappers, snarers and timber workers. The first part of the track is an old 4WD track, though fallen trees and washaway areas now prevent driving on. The trek took us through magical mountain rainforests, native shrubs and trees as far as the eye can see, where one and a half hours later we came to a small loggers hut: Hill’s Logging Hut. This hut was named for Bruce Hill, a man who logged the area for about twelve years in the 1960s. The hut was restored by the Deloraine Walking Club in the early 70s. Having rested a little here, we then moved on, and half an hour later we stood at Loftys Lookout; the views were sensational, below us was a magical Tasmanian landscape.

Mountain Huts - Carol Haberle; Little Grunter
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Top: it’s me!, almost at the end of the 4WD section of track
Bottom: coming up the Little Grunter

We Made It…

So far the walking had been comfortable, though it was a warm day in March, the constant shelter of the forest helped to cool. A further kilometre on and we reached the end of the 4WD track, from here the going got tough for a while as we proceeded to climb the Little Grunter (I soon learned why it was called that, though coming across a tiger snake here ensured my ‘grunts’ were anything but ‘little’). A seriously steep section of the walking track, but worth every effort when we came out of it and into an area of myrtle flats… beautiful myrtle trees and green mosses surrounded us, it was truly like standing in another world.


 

Haberle’s Hut was hidden from view, but a signpost guided us a further 100 metres off the main walking track to where almost four hours after we started on Parsons Track we stood before this quaint little hut, only 6’ 6” long by 8’ wide, and so full of history, here beneath a forest of myrtle trees. It was here I stood and truly gave serious thought to the men who built these mountain huts, the harsh reality of what those men did to help their families survive, spending months on end up in the harsh conditions this mountain landscape wielded… and gave thanks to all those involved in the restoration and preserving of this part of Tasmania’s unique history.

Mountain Huts - Hills Logging Hut, Lofty's Lookout
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Top: Hills Logging Hut
Bottom: views from Lofty’s Lookout

(I must explain here the difference between ‘signposted’ times and our time to make the trek. Signposted times are obviously for serious bushwalkers, mmmm, five hours return to Haberle’s Hut, it took us seven… I on the other hand had a camera with me, and as Kev will tell you, “take Carol with a camera and you will need to allow an extra couple of hours!”)

Mountain Huts - Haberle's Hut
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Top: Haberle’s Hut hidden in the myrtle forest
Bottom: Kev at Haberle’s Hut

To anyone with a love of bushwalking, or a love of the cultural history surrounding these mountain huts, I recommend this trek… well and truly worth every step you will take. Kev and I only went as far as Haberle’s Hut, but the trek progresses a further two hours to take you to the top of the tiers and onto the plateau. With native flora in abundance, you’ll also see a little seasonal wildlife along the way: echidnas, wallabies, mountain dragons, skinks and snakes. To get there: take Caveside Road (C169) south from Mole Creek village for about 7km, turn right into Pool Road, then left into Fernleigh Road and right into Parsons Road. The car park and start of Parsons Track are signposted.

Mountain Huts - Native Flora and Fauna
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Native flora and wildlife abound in the Great Western Tiers

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards
Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian.
If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.

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Map: Great Western Tiers, Tasmania