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What a great subject this would make for an artist to paint.
Tomorrow, Parks Victoria staff will be joined by the volunteers with the Victorian High Country Huts Association, the Ritchie family, local schools, and members of the community to celebrate the completion of Ritchie’s Hut. The hut was rebuilt after the original was lost in the Great Divide Fires of 2006-07. The decision to rebuild the hut followed close consultation with the community and was based on the high social, cultural and refuge values of the original hut.
“Rebuilding of the famous High Country Hut started in May 2008,” said Parks Victoria Ranger Chris Clarke. “It was a labour of love for many of us. It was also a lot of hard work.”
“This was a true community effort. So many people were more than willing to pitch in whether it was with materials, services, or their time. We are extremely grateful for the fantastic efforts of volunteers from the Victorian High Country Hut Association, trail-riding groups, scouts, venturers and school groups who contributed over 2,500 hours to the project. ”
The original Ritchie’s Hut was built by the Ritchie family in 1947 at the junction of 14 Mile Creek and the Howqua River, near Mansfield. The hut was built with materials from the surrounding land, with timber for the walls and roof cut and shaped by hand from nearby trees.
Ken Birch, President of the Victorian High Country Hut Association, said that many of the traditional techniques were kept alive in the rebuilding of the hut. “We’ve seen a lot of the materials used in Ritchie’s Hut carried up on pack horse. It’s great to see everyone involved in the rebuilding embracing the heritage of the huts in the Alpine National Park.”
Parks Victoria’s Chris Clarke said many weekends were spent prefabricating the hut at the Blackbird Hut depot in the Howqua Hills Historic Area.
“Volunteers sourced timber from local forests, which they cut into slabs using a traditional blade and broad axe,” said Mr Clarke. “The hut was then dismantled and transported to 8 Mile Flat, where pieces of the hut were carried in by hand, pack horse and helicopter.”
“Although the hut’s remote location created some problems for the builders, it also gave the volunteers a taste of what life was like for local designer Fred Fry and the Ritchie family at a time before power tools and helicopters.”
Robert Ritchie, son of founder Bob Ritchie, said that this was a fantastic day to celebrate the completion of a lot of hard work by many people. “For Dad and his friends in the 1940s, spending days on end fishing the remote areas of the Howqua was their dream. It was the reason the hut was built in the first place. We’re delighted to see that dream re-imagined by so many. I, on behalf of my family, would like to thank everyone involved. We encourage visitors to come up and enjoy the simple pleasures of one of the most picturesque areas of the park.”
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