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The Restoration of 15 Mile Hut

09 Jan Article | Comments Off on The Restoration of 15 Mile Hut
The Restoration of 15 Mile Hut
 

 

History

Located just off 15 Mile Rd beside the very picturesque Toponga river in the Big River region.

It is believed that 15 Mile Hut is approximately 20 years old, although this is not confirmed.

In the early years the hut was named Bongs or Marcs Hut.Those who did the early restoring made it

fun by adding signs such as”Beware of the Crocs”and “no diving” near the creek.Inside they

continued the fun with a fake chandelier and a light switch attached to an outside pole.

The original construction was tin outer walls. The fire place was stone ,with bricks on the outside

and a flu which looks fairly new. The fire place needed work to save it from collapsing. The hut had

an old sink, bench and the floor was just dirt.

The front façade was a combination of rough tin and timber giving it a very rustic appeal.

The hut was spared damage or worse from the bush fires in 2009 . Later that year restoration

/repair work was carried out by person’s unknown although names carved into a large piece of

wood with the name “15 Mile Hut” above the front verandah may be the indication of who restored

the hut.It is unclear exactly what work was done or when the hut was renamed 15-mile Hut. The

outer verandas at the front and right hand side were possibly part of the changes made going by

earlier photos. In recent years, the hut had again fallen victim to the elements. The roof had begun

to collapse due to a tree falling across the roof and the outer walls, chimney, fire place and support

beams were all in a state of disrepair. The hut was in danger of collapse and the issue of safety was a

major concern. If volunteers could not be found this hut would be demolished or collapse, either

way it would be a shame to see the hut gone forever. Its remoteness is part of its charm and in bad

weather this hut would be just as important as one with historical significance, in saving a life.

The Rebuild

The Victorian High Country Huts Association (VHCHA)along with land owners DEWLP, Vic Parks and

Forest Fire Management Victoria maintain many of the huts in the Victorian high country and rely

heavily on volunteers and care takers to aid in hut projects and ongoing maintenance. Their roles are

vital to the works done to restore and save our many huts and without their dedication and passion

many of our huts would be lost forever.

This year the Melbourne Jeep Owners Club(MJOC) contacted our VHCHA Huts Coordinator to discuss

to possibility of caretaking and restoring 15-mile Hut.

Once it was discovered the land owners of the hut were Forest Fire Management, (Alexandra Office

)an action plan was developed and sent to James Cowell at the Forest Fire Management office in

Alexandra for approval. Approval was granted for the first phase of the restoration.

Members of the MJOC made two day trips out to hut to assess the work, one in April and one July.

On the weekend October 22 nd /23 rd 2016 the MJOC had their first official restoration working bee at

the hut. That first Saturday the team also had to contend with the weather. It snowed, rained and

hailed most of the day making the work a little difficult, but with true Aussie spirit they battled

on.The work had to be prioritised with the most urgent of repairs to be handled first. Safety was also

an issue, the hut needed to be made secure and safe for works to begin and to protect all the

volunteers.

So, with a fantastic team and the VHCHA HMO for that area and members of the Geelong 4WDClub,

the work began.

The team from MJOC were fortunate to have the expertise of a registered builder amongst them. His

knowledge and input proved invaluable. He over saw the roof repair and raising and the design of

the new wall frames. He also provided a lot of the necessary tools for the extensive works.

By the end of this first working bee weekend an amazing amount of work had been done.

The roof had been being braced and raised.

The Awning was repaired

A start was made on putting timber down on the floor

A car parking area was made

All the bush and grass was cut from around the hut

Steps were made down to the river

Food was left and cooking gear and water.

A fire pit was made and a camping area cleared.

Drainage was added to prevent water from damaging the hut

Visitors book was placed inside

It was a credit to the team. Their enthusiasm and passion for the job at hand was commendable.

They all did such an amazing amount of work.

At the end of the weekend discussions were had on the next phase of the hut rebuild and what

would be needed to finish the hut. It was still a mammoth task and there was still much work

needed to complete the restoration. The biggest of all was all the timber that would be needed to

complete the walls and floor.

A plan was sent to Forest Fire Management for approval for the second and final phase of the

restoration.

This approval was granted and before a date was set, timbers needed to be sourced. We felt it was

important to source from around the area if possible.

Dindi saw mill was contacted and I explained our project and asked if the mill may be able to help

with a donation. I was amazed and humbled by the response to our project. Victoria Forest were

contacted and they donated all the timbers needed, including sleepers and 4x2s . The mill cut and

delivered all the timber at no charge, to the Snobs Creek Caravan Park who kindly agreed to store

the timbers until we could get back to the hut.

Our next issue was how to get all the timber safely down to the hut . We were able to source 3

trailers, 2 from members of MJOC, much appreciated and one oversized tandem from a member of

the Geelong 4WClub, also greatly appreciated.

Now MJOC could set a date for the finish of the restoration.

December 17 th and 18 th were set.

Most of the team met at the snobs Creek caravan park on Friday night. The owner had generously

allowed us to stay free of charge in his “Lodge” for that night.

We loaded one trailer load of timber on Friday night and on Saturday morning we loaded the rest of

the timber onto the trailers and headed down to the hut.

And so, the work begun. The mood among the teams was infectious, everyone was keen to see the

restoration complete.

By the end of this mammoth weekend the hut was complete. Work included;

All the walls were removed ,safely of course. They were braced and secured.

The original front façade was left un touched except for a bit of straightening. It was important to

leave that rustic look to the front of the hut, which added to its charm.

The south and back wall had the tin replaced.

The fire place was repaired, including securing rocks on the outside of the chimney to keep it from

falling down.

Timbered the floor of the hut

Removed the old bed frames

The North wall was replaced with timber and the original windows were replaced but set apart to

provide better lighting.

Some shelving was put in and some seating was placed inside utilising some materials that were

already there.

Cleared the grass from around the hut.

A plaque was secured on the new timber wall that was funded by the VHCHA. To acknowledge all

the wonderful people who donated and contributed to the restoration.

It was a pleasure to work with the team from MJOC. Their work was outstanding they all did a

fantastic job. It is easy to see their passion for these huts.

VHCHA, together with Forest Fire Management Alexandra sincerely thanks and acknowledges the

following companies, Clubs and individuals for the generous donations and tireless works that

enabled the restoration of 15-mile Hut.

Vic Forests for all the timber

Dindi Saw mill for milling the timber

MJOC for all their fantastic work/labour in restoring the hut

Nev Johnson for delivering the timber to the park.

Eildon Holiday park for storing the timber and providing free accommodation to MJOC team and

Geelong 4WDClub

Sharp Building services.

Geelong 4WDclub for helping out with a much needed trailer.

Without any of these fantastic and generous companies/people this restoration could not have been

possible.

The hut has now been made not only safe, but useable and comfortable for many years to come.

The structure should stand for many years.

 

Written by Shez Tedford, HMO for Victorian High Country Huts association