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A celebration of restoration works at The Steppes


A celebration of restoration works at The Steppes Reserve on Sunday 27 April, has demonstrated what can be achieved by two passionate volunteer groups, the Mountain Huts Preservation Society  (MHPS) and the Hobart Walking Club, working with the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS).

The ‘Back to the Steppes’ day was organised by Anne Thwaites, whose family has had a long association with the Steppes, and other members of the Hobart Bushwalking Club, to showcase The Steppes and acknowledge the fantastic work undertaken by the MHPS in the restoration of many of the outbuildings on site.

A good crowd of Mountain Huts Preservation Society members, members of the Hobart Bushwalking Club, interested community members and Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff attended the event that included a history tour of the site, explanation of the work completed by the society, and displays. Restoration works undertaken over the past three and a half years included replacing shingle roofs, re-cladding walls and stabilising outbuildings.  Staff from the PWS Great Western Tiers field centre worked in partnership with members of the MHPS to assist in sourcing materials and attending working bees.

 The Steppes Historic Site is located on the Lake Highway in the Central Highlands, about 35 km northwest of Bothwell. This 48 ha state reserve not only protects the site’s historic buildings but also helps ensure that stories about a way of life, now largely gone, are carried into the future.

Since 1863 the Steppes was intertwined with the growth of sheep grazing in the Central Highlands and remained the home of the Wilson family for a hundred years. Stock was driven up to the highlands to rest the lowland paddocks during the summer months.

Parks and Wildlife Service Parks and Reserves manager Chris Emms, said the works at The Steppes Historic Site resulted from a partnership agreement with the MHPS in 2009. The agreement outlined more than 10 projects to be undertaken from 2009 to 2014. These have involved the preservation, restoration and interpretation of heritage hut sites across the Central Plateau and the Great Western Tiers.

 “Supporting volunteering is a major part of our core business and the contribution that volunteers can make in assisting PWS with the ongoing management of reserves is enormous. Having a strong agreement provides a clear direction and agreed priorities,” Mr Emms said.

“Projects such as this also ensure that the considerable skills involved in heritage restoration projects are not lost to the community. In this case it has provided an opportunity to bring together two passionate volunteer groups, the Hobart Walking Club and the Mountain Huts Preservation Society, to utilize their unique skill sets to achieve fantastic on-ground conservation work,” Chris said.

A celebration of restoration works at The Steppes

Back to The Steppes included displays and a tour of the site and recent restoration works.

A celebration of restoration works at The Steppes

The bakehouse with a light dusting of snow on its newly re-shingled roof. Repairs were also made to the walls and planter boxes.

A celebration of restoration works at The Steppes

Senior ranger Rob Buck catches up with MHPS president Roger Nutting.

A celebration of restoration works at The Steppes

Repair works to one of the outbuildings.

A celebration of restoration works at The Steppes

A MHPS member demonstrates the art of splitting shingles.