Shelter from the Storm

Chaffeys Hut, Cobb Valley.

Most huts are maintained by DOC on a first-come, first-occupy basis. You can’t reserve bunks for party members who have still to arrive. Guided parties may also use the huts, but they are not allowed to occupy more than half of the bunks. Some huts, notably those on Great Walks and other very popular tracks must be pre-booked, so check the DOC website before your trip. In most cases, hut fees are payable to DOC through pre-purchased hut tickets, or by purchasing an annual Backcountry Hut Pass. Please pay hut fees as they go towards maintaining the huts, tracks and facilities in the backcountry, which are expensive to build and maintain.

Hut users should observe backcountry etiquette: respect the huts and equipment, thereby maintaining pleasant conditions and shelter for other parties. Snorers should consider others and early risers should pack their packs outside of the bunkroom as rustling plastic bags are very noisy. A hot brew offered to cold, wet newcomers when they arrive is the ultimate courtesy.

Hut intentions books are not only of assistance to searchers should you become missing, but DOC uses the statistics to justify maintenance of the huts and tracks. Fill them out.

Exercise care with fires and candles in huts and damp down ashes thoroughly before leaving. In particular, if reading in a bunk, check from time to time that the candle flame is not charring the bunk, or ceiling above.

After going to the toilet, leave the long-drop toilet seat closed and the door securely shut.

While few people relish putting on wet clothes and socks in the morning, even fewer people enjoy having wet socks dripping into their evening meal while it cooks on the fire, or stove underneath. It is considered very poor form to try to dry clothes over a fire, or stove being used for cooking. Generally, it is pointless trying to dry clothes in the backcountry anyway.

When leaving a hut, remember to:

  • Close the windows and secure the door shut to keep possums and birds out.
  • Pack out all rubbish, because if you don’t, who will?
  • Replenish firewood for the next party, who may arrive in the rain.
  • Sign the intentions book.
  • Clean the fireplace, or stove.
  • Wipe the bench and rinse out the cleaning cloth, leaving it to dry.
  • Sweep the floor thoroughly.
  • Ensure that any billies are cleaned and left upside down to keep mice out.

If you have the time, it’s nice to show that you care by giving the hut a good spring clean before you leave.

Parties should report any facility requiring urgent attention to the DOC Safety Watch free-phone, 0800 999005. Structures requiring general maintenance should be reported in writing to DOC. Repairs to the smaller huts and bivvies are generally carried out by DOC staff working on other projects in the area. As repeat trips are unlikely, it is helpful to provide DOC with as much information as possible so that their staff can effect a repair on their first and possibly only visit. To this end, include suggested solutions, dimensions of broken window glass and suchlike.

This page is a reproduction of the relevant section of FMC’s Safety in the Mountains booklet; first published in 1937, and still in print today, 11 editions later. You can buy your copy from the FMC website, at near giveaway price. More than 130,000 copies of this distilled mountain wisdom have found their way in to packs, huts and collections of generations of outdoors enthusiasts.