It was around a century ago that the craze for recreational huts on Mt Wellington first started. The mountain had always been a dominating backdrop to the city and it greatly influenced people’s thoughts and imaginations. Hobart had a strong sense of identity and independence in the days before necessity compelled Tasmania to join the Federation. As the city had become very well established by this time, including many impressive buildings, people’s thoughts naturally turned to leisure, and what better area to use for recreation than the mountain which was on their back doorstep?
Accordingly small groups of friends, employees or small syndicates walked up the mountain in the weekends carrying all kinds of equipment and vied with each other to find the most attractive, secluded sites and to build the most elaborate structures in which to spend their leisure hours. Typically, a mountain hut would consist of a levelled site by a small stream, a chimney built of local stone and a wooden structure embellished by extremely elaborate intertwined branchwork. Many of the hut groups prided themselves on their fine cuisine and their love of culture and gentle company. One of the huts reputedly contained a piano! Ladies would arrive in their fine clothes and groups would walk from one hut to another to sample the hospitality of the hut builders.
Very little is left of some hutsites today; an experienced eye and the instincts of a sleuth are needed to notice the remains – a rock platform here, a pile of mossy rocks there – which mark some of the sites of this most interesting and romantic time in history. Since the structures were almost exclusively built out of timber, they were nearly all destroyed by the fires which ravaged the area in 1912. The sites are very fragile and susceptible to damage by over-visiting, and many artifacts have either been badly burnt or souvenired by previous visitors to the site. Not all of the hutsites have been re-discovered, and there are several sites which have been found, but which are in dispute as to their correct identities. This website contains information on only a selected few of these fascinating and romantic structures, which form an important part of Tasmania’s early white history.