Huts of all shapes and sizes were built in the Victorian high country from the mid 1800s by cattle musterers, fishermen, miners, loggers, forest rangers and more recently ski and bushwalking groups. Most early ones were built using materials at hand, and with basic tools. Many have long gone, but huts are still scattered all over the alpine and high country area of Victoria.
Many huts now have significant heritage value. They are a reminder of the struggles of our forebears to glean a living from a harsh land.
Many walkers are under the misconception that huts are there to be used as accommodation. This is not correct. I was recently contacted by Parks Victoria in relation to this topic and it was suggested that I share this post in the hope that those reading it will better understand and appreciate the code of conduct.
A few important points…
- Huts are for emergency use only and are not to be used for accommodation.
- Huts are not for exclusive use of any party. So if you arrive first then be prepared to share the hut with others seeking ‘temporary’ shelter.
- Under no circumstance are commercial tour operators allowed to utilise huts for overnight accommodation or for their exclusive use. This is a breach of their license code of conduct and if you do find commercial operators using huts for this purpose they should be reported to Parks Victoria.
Victorian High Country Huts Code of Conduct
Huts Code of Etiquette
Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos. Huts are a fragile piece of our Australian heritage and require our care and protection to survive.
Huts Are for Temporary Shelter Only
Huts are for temporary, emergency shelter only not for accommodation. Enjoy visiting the huts, but do not use them for overnight accommodation as their cultural values can easily be destroyed. In Victoria some huts are not available for public use.
Never Rely on Reaching A Hut
When mountain weather closes in huts can be difficult to find. Ensure you are equipped to camp out as blizzards can occur at any time of the year. In severe weather, take shelter before you get wet and tired.
Use A Fuel Stove
Using fuel stoves for cooking reduces firewood consumption around huts. Some areas are designated fuel stove only. Escaping fires will severely damage the delicate environment, and firewood can be scarce or even non-existent above the tree line.
Leave the Hut Clean And Secure
Leave the hut as you would like to find it. Check that the fire is out, restock dry firewood and close the door and windows securely. Don’t leave emergency food stores in the huts, they clutter up the hut and encourage rats.
Keep Fires Small
Please keep fires small and within existing fireplaces. Never leave the fire unattended and ensure it is out before leaving. If you need to light a fire in an emergency or to keep warm, make sure you keep it small. If you have to light a fire be sure that you replenish all used firewood as someone may need it in an emergency.
Log Books May Save Your Life
If you fill in the book in the hut, stating the details of your journey, number in the party and intentions it may assist in search and rescue operations. If the log book is full, please inform the park ranger or VHCHA and it will be replaced
Huts contain evidence of its past and the people that built and used them. Huts were also often located in areas which were used as camp sites by Aboriginal people, so please do not do anything to disturb the environs around huts.
Got To ‘Go’?
Use a toilet or take a walk – at least 100 paces from hut and campsites. Dig 15 cm deep and cover well.
Collect water from upstream of the hut to avoid possible pollution. Boil water for at least five minutes to avoid gastroenteritis and giardia.
Pack It In, Pack It Out
Pack to minimise rubbish, don’t take potential rubbish such as bottles, cans and excess packaging. Don’t bury any rubbish. It is often dug out by native animals and may harm them.
Carry on The Tradition
Huts have always been left unlocked, stocked with matches and a small amount of dry firewood and kindling. People generally looked after each other. They needed to if they were to survive the rigours of mountain life. This tradition, maintained today, has helped many people in trouble and will undoubtedly help more, maybe even you.
Read more at on the Victorian High Country Huts Association website.