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Historic mountain hut back in service


Cradle Mountain’s iconic mountain hut, Kitchen Hut, is set to provide a snug and safe emergency shelter for visitors to the Cradle Plateau for decades to come following a major restoration project.

Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair parks and reserves manager Nic Deka said that while the hut had been maintained through the years, the harsh alpine environment had taken its toll on the timber building to the point where major structural work was required for it to remain in use.

“Kitchen Hut is an iconic structure featured in countless photos of Cradle Mountain, and has provided life-saving shelter for many caught unprepared for the changeable and often brutal weather conditions of the Cradle Plateau,” Mr Deka said.

“The hut is for emergency use only and not for general overnight use, however it provides a rest stop for those walking the Overland Track and a rest point for climbers on their way to the Cradle Mountain summit.

“While there will continue be a need for ongoing maintenance to the hut, it is good to have it back in service as a significant emergency shelter and part of Cradle’s iconic heritage.”

The hut was commissioned in 1939 by the Cradle Mountain Reserve Board. It was built at the place commonly known as ‘the kitchen’ as it offered a reliable water supply just before the ascent up the face of Cradle where parties could stop for a rest and boil the billy. The second level was added in 1973 to provide access in times of deep snow cover. It is registered in the Tasmanian Heritage Places Inventory.

Restoration work began on the hut in late February and took four weeks to complete. The works have been undertaken in keeping with the hut’s heritage value and have retained the integrity of the hut construction and its traditional appearance.

Heritage builder Tim Youlden was contracted to undertake the majority of the works, with some assistance from Parks and Wildlife Service staff. All materials and tools were flown to the site, which is several hours’ walk from the nearest road access at Dove Lake. The works included strengthening the structural integrity of the hut, installing new stairs and upper level landing and replacing the previously removed upper level floor, giving access to the hut in times of high snow levels.

Doors and windows were replaced to make the hut weatherproof, and a new bench and seats now provide improved comfort for visitors. The rotted plywood floor was removed and the original stone floor re-installed. On the exterior, the weathered King Billy pine shingles were replaced with shingles split from a King Billy log sourced from within the park.

Historic mountain hut back in service

A group of walkers having a break at 'the kitchen' on the Cradle Plateau.

Historic mountain hut back in service

The doors and windows and their frames were removed for replacement. New shingles were put on the roof and walls.

Historic mountain hut back in service

New benches provide comfort for those taking shelter in the hut and a new stairway leads to the upper level.

Historic mountain hut back in service

The rotted plywood floor was removed and the stone paving re-laid.

Historic mountain hut back in service

Overland Track range Eddie Firth checks out the completed renovation.