Rebuild of the Rest House at Sawyers Hill | Kosciuszko National Park Post-Bushfire Hut Rebuild
The Rest House at Sawyers Hill (Sawyers Hut) is the first hut to be rebuilt following the devastating 19/20 bushfires. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is working with support from the Kosciuszko Huts Association, families associated with the huts and volunteers to restore the 11 huts lost in the fires. With over 70 huts spread across Kosciuszko National Park, each with a unique story and construction, the restoration project aims not only to recreate the physical structures but also to keep the social connections and heritage alive.The hut rebuild program is coordinated by project officer Megan Bowden and made physically possible by National Parks builder Roger Rosenboom and Field Officer Peter Dow. Megan, Roger and Peter are employed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and were also involved in the rebuild of Sawyers Hut after the 2003 fires, along with Broken Dam Hut, Delaneys Hut and Brooks Hut.
Originally built in 1910, The Rest House at Sawyers Hill was a traveller's rest hut serving as a shelter for travellers, miners, and mail carriers. Sawyers was once part of a larger building that was used by coach travellers on their way to and from the once thriving Rules Point Hotel. The Rules Point Hotel was the centre of high country social life, located in the heart of the Snowy Mountains near the turn off to Long Plain Road. The building was demolished in the 1960s as the area became Kosciuszko National Park. Today, Sawyers Hut is still used as a resting stop for travellers, with its convenient location on the Snowy Mountains Highway.
Sawyers Hut has been rebuilt with better protection from future bushfire threats with measures such as installing shutters, sprinklers, treating timber with retardant and slanting surfaces to prevent loss from ember attack have been implemented. To preserve the unique construction, Sawyers Hut and the other huts in the rebuild program are rebuilt using traditional woodworking techniques such as splitting slabs with a maul and froe. The goal is to pass on the skills needed to maintain and build these historic structures, ensuring that these techniques and traditions are not lost over time.
The rebuilding program involves close collaboration with the Kosciuszko Huts Association, families associated with the huts, and the descendants of those who built and lived in them. The rebuild of Sawyers also relied on the dedication of volunteers, particularly members of the Kosciuszko Huts Association and the Tumut and District Bushwalkers, who helped with sanding, applying fire retardant, and other aspects of the restoration process. The inclusion of various stakeholders keeps the social connections intact and ensures the huts are rebuilt with historical accuracy.
Bob Moon, Roger Rosenboom, Peter Dow, Megan Bowden, Simon Buckpitt and Susan Learmont at the official reopening of the Rest House at Sawyers Hill in April 2023.
The rebuilding program for the 11 Kosciuszko huts lost in the 19/20 bushfires stands as a testament to the commitment and collaboration between various stakeholders and the determination to preserve Australia's cultural heritage. By recreating these huts with historical accuracy, passing on traditional construction skills, and implementing fire-resistant measures, the project ensures the survival of these structures for future generations. The restored huts not only represent the country's rich history but also serve as a reminder of the resilience and spirit of those who built and used them.
Huts to be rebuilt:
- Rest House at Sawyers Hill
- Harveys Hut/Tantangara
- Four Mile
- Fifteen Mile/Linesmans
- Round Mountain
For more information on the Huts in Kosciuszko or to get involved with the rebuild, visit the Kosciuszko Huts Association here.
Tom's Outdoors would like to thank:
Megan Bowden for her ongoing support in the making of this series
Roger Rosenboom and Peter Dow
Kosciuszko Huts Association and its members
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Bob Moon, Tumut & District Bushwalkers and all other volunteers
Highly appreciated photo contributions:
Ian Brown and Michelle J Photography
Matthew Higgins and Billie Higgins
Julie Newland and Megan Bowden
Filmed and edited: