Chapter one - An Introduction
Definition of a hut: A small and simple single story shelter, dwelling or shack, varying in comforts and amenities. Usually hidden, tucked away or obscured from view.
There are places in Tasmania’s wilderness where a little slice of home pierces the belly of the wilds. It might be as simple as a few enamel cups hung off some rusty and bent old nails or the warmth of a fireplace that has seen the gaze of a thousand weary travellers. It is Tasmania’s high country huts that I speak of and their deep and sorted histories. An unwritten law exists in the huts: restock the firewood, bequeath some tea or candles, give it a sweep, write in the logbook and shut the door when you leave. A simple way of being: no money passes hands, no one knows you were there apart from those that have read the logbook and it’s first in best dressed. In our modern society it’s not often that we can find such things, something that hasn’t been consumed, sold, marketed, pillaged or exploited.
Tasmania’s high country huts are famous among the few souls that dare to seek them out. Often shrouded in secrecy, spoken about in a dull whisper, these huts are vestiges of the seemingly elusive characters that once called them home. Tracks ascend through dense and dark myrtle gullies, cross waterfalls, traverse sphagnum bogs, dissect poa fields and weave through alpine moorland. One thing is true of any of these tracks: the journey disconnects us from the outside world, rendering us at the whim of the elements, only the items on your back to keep you safe.
A good hut only needs a few simple things: shelter, warmth, a candle, and a place to rest your head. Some of the best nights sleeps are to be had in a hut, thoughts are simple, a cup of tea, a good feed, read, write and rest. It isn’t unknown to sleep for 14 hours in a hut, without the weight of the world to clag your thoughts, kilometers in the legs, hearty stew in the belly. An amazing fuzz can occur while resting in a hut, the warm dimness of candle light, flicker of the wood fire, steam from the billy boil, eyes become heavy as the embers die down, words in your book linger.
The histories of these huts are of trapper, grazer, hermit and hunter; many of these huts live on as relics, bounded by family and community. However, now a sense of a new history is being formed, guided by the logbooks that occupy them. Fishermen, historians, famous Tasmanian writers, poets, mountain guides, dreamers and vagabonds find themselves drawn to these hideaways by the isolation and solitude. Sketches of mayfly and mythical dogs, poems of love and loss or the simple recording of presence in time - it’s a wonder we come back at all. For those who frequent these magical places, we share in their ongoing history - we preserve it and we create it.
Only the elements and time itself will leave a permanent mark on the mythical high country huts of Tasmania, we as good people shall step in and step out, but remember to always shut the door when you leave.