New National Park

1,250,000-acre Playground Needs Huts and Hostels

By Rudolph Lemberg

The Sydney Morning Herald

17 June 1944

A few months ago a largetract of the Australian Alps, 1,250,000 acres in extent, was declared a national park by the State Government.

For this, future generations will be deeply grateful.

At present, apart from the cattlemen of the district, only a few bush-walkers and skiers know the great variety of grand and lovely landscapes which is to be found in the confines of this park.

In summer the walker must be able to carry a heavy rucksack containing camping gear, and a week's provisions. In winter only an experienced skier.

With good power of orientation and exact knowledge of the position of the huts, can risk travelling from one to the other, some of which are a day's travel apart. Failure to find the hut in blizzard or fog spells disaster.

Before the war the Government had opened the south-east corner for tourist traffic with the Hotel Kosciusko, the Chalet at Charlotte's Pass, and the less pretentious Bett's Camp.

The war has temporarily closed these ways of access, but enthusiastic skiers and walkers have found their way into their beloved mountains, although every trip has become a major expedition, to be Planned carefully months ahead.

Wanted - a Plan. In peacetime hotel and chalet will again provide accommodation for those who like to enjoy comfort in their mountain holidays- and who can pay for it.

There is the Alpine Hut in the central part of the park, and a skiing chalet at Kiandra, all run separately and accessible to the tourist only by special arrangement.

There are also a few huts of cattlemen, for those who know how to find them. In Summer they are usually inhabited by the stockmen, but in winter they are left open, and provide primitive shelter.

For some of these huts arrangements for their use by skiers have been made by clubs with the owners. The hospitality of the stockmen is great and the writer will never forget delightful night he and his wife spent  as uninvited guests of such a kind host.

With the increase in tourist traffic which is certain to come, however, even the hospitality of the stockmen will be overtaxed.

Moreover, most sportsmen, while finding the comforts of the hotel and even of the chalet somewhat too much for their simple tastes, would like rather more comfort than the cattlemen's huts can offer.

Here, then, is ample opportunity for a splendid scheme of post-war re-construction.

A chain of huts should be erected along the main range between Kiandra and Geehi, each hut half a day's walking distance from the next, and some on the western side of the range.

Most of them would be preferably of the simple type, which provides sleeping bunks and rugs, cooking accommodation, and wood, emergency provisions and first aid outfit, with two or three larger huts of the Bett's Camp type, which provide meals and showers.

They may be run privately, by the Government, by the Youth Hostel Association, or by bushwalking and skiing clubs, but they should be available to all tourists, walkers, and skiers, youth groups, and school classes, and the whole scheme should be co-ordinated under the National Fitness Council.

What memories the Alps bring to the mind of one who has walked White's River Hut (Kosciusko National Parki under snow through them in summer with ruck-sack and tent, and skied through them in winter from hut to hut!

Camp on a green meadow near Geehi on the banks of fast running, crystal-clear mountain streams, the summits of Mount Townsend and the Abbot Range towering 6,000 feet above. The next day mount the ski ladder of the Hannel Spur, steeply climbing through tall mountain ash forests into the region of the snow gums, and to the open highland moors and granite rocks.

The region is limitless in it's range of scenery - the wild solitude and dense scrub of the Geehi valley, where the river rushes through lonely gullies west of the main range, and the ragged ridges of Townsend Spur and Watson Crags sweep down to it . . . the enchanted alpine flower gardens of yellow shrubs, purple herb clusters, and white mountain daisies on the Grey Mare Range, set before a background of the snow-clad ridges and western precipices of the main range, framed by snow gums . . . wide panoramas from the summits of Townsend, Jagungal, and Grey Mare, each entirely different in character. . , .

Jagungal as it rises as bold as an alpine peak over enticing little gullies on its northern side, and the lovely park landscape of the northern Alps, with its trout streams cutting their way through small granite gorges . . snow covering the mountains yards deep, a picture in while and brown under a green-blue sky . . . light sparkling in the fresh snow broken by innumerable crystal facets . . . hoar frost that transforms a dense cluster of trees into the marble architecture of a fairy palace . . colour in all hues between green, magenta, and violet on the trunks, leaves, and shadows of the gum trees, a unique colour harmony found only in the Australian snow landscape and not yet painted by any painter . . . wide views over white hills, range behind range, intersected by dark, deeply incised, densely wooded valleys, in the distance the Victorian Bogong lifting its white head over the mists in the Murray valley.

White Grandeur. Our party in the White River Hut, the skiers' paradise , . . we deeply enjoy the great solitude as our skis cut into untrodden snow, and we know that for many miles north, south, west, and east we are the only human beings

on the range, with nothing but our own resources to rely on . . . running down in speed over wide snowfields, turning and twisting through glades of trees, feeling master of our bodies, and of distance . . . the good-humoured laughter of one's comrades when this mastery fails and one lands a crumbled mass in a deep hole in the snow, and rises looking more like a polar bear than a human being!

How many visitors of hotel and chalet, are aware of the grandeur of the precipitous western facing in Its ice and snow mantle? How many ridges and slopes are there still to be explored, over which no ski has yet passed?

In a any scheme of hut construction care must be taken that the landscape is not spoiled by tin shacks and other eyesores, and that the huts are kept tidy and in good order.

If the huts are interconnected by walking tracks, marked by snow poles for the skier, the average walker, touring skier, and our youth will be able to see the beauties of the park at present inaccessible to them.