Ned Cooper takes us on a wholesome journey through history, huts, and mountain ranges on the Cascade Hut Trail.


We acknowledge the Ngarigo and Walgal peoples on whose land this adventure takes place. The Ngarigo and Walgal have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Maintaining History

Dotted throughout Kosciuszko National Park is a network of quaint and mystical mountain huts. Perhaps you’ve hiked to a hut, skied past one of them, or huddled inside around a fire. Have you ever wondered about the life of those huts?

Over the Easter long weekend, I had the chance to uncover the rich history of these huts from the people who’ve been prepping the fireplace for you and me. A group of 30-odd family and friends from the Illawarra Alpine Club (IAC), the Kosciuszko Huts Association (KHA) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service organised to meet on the Cascade Hut Trail.

The occasion marked a staggering 50 years of volunteer service from members and associates of the IAC to maintain four state heritage-listed huts in the southern part of Kosciuszko National Park; Cascades Hut, Tin Mines Hut, Charlie Carters Hut and Teddys Hut. Four generations of volunteers, from ages 2 to 95, got together after two years of Covid separation to hike or hitch a ride to the huts.

Saunter Among The Snow Gums

We met at Dead Horse Gap on Good Friday. Together with my Mum, aunties, uncle, cousins and their kids, we set off along the Thredbo River. We started, as ever, bothered by matters of packing and preparation – some had too many layers, others had too few. But as we lost phone service and ventured further into the fresh air, we shed our grievances like the bark on the Snow gums flanking us.


Mum and Aunty Rob start the walk through the valley, past the first snow gum


The trail winds through a shallow valley, upstream past whispering creeks, then uphill through a Snow gum woodland. Red-breasted robins and Rosellas greet you as you walk through the woodland up to Bob’s Ridge. The Snow gums appear to be fighting themselves, branches strangling one another as they reach for the light. You might also notice some dieback amongst the Snow gums, the result of insect outbreaks driven by climate change.

Bob’s Ridge to Cascades Hut

From Bob’s Ridge, we continued south down the cooler side of the hill. My uncle Pete gleefully beckoned us off the trail to visit the Devil’s Kitchen, a natural hut surrounded by a crop of native pepper berries. We picked a few for dinner and climbed atop Devil’s Kitchen to look across the Murray Valley to Victoria. The landscape is like an open museum of its own history, dusted with trees dead but still standing after a fire 20 years ago.


Trees long dead from a 20-year-old fire, looking over the border to Victoria


As we proceeded down the hill, Pete showed me the natural materials used to maintain the huts. Soil from the undercuttings by the road for the hard clay floors, fallen trees for parts of the exterior. I listened willingly, but I grew concerned for the future of the huts if these lessons were to stay with me – I’m a hopeless handyman. 

The Cascades Hut was built almost 90 years ago by stockmen to assist with their grazing. Thankfully, once we arrived at the hut we met a troop of young bushmen and women who will hopefully guide the hut past the century.

Good Bush and Tin Mines Hut

After a long night around the campfire, we woke late, boiled the billy for tea and coffee, and then continued on the Cascades Trail. The woodland in the first part of the walk to Tin Mines Hut is drier and denser than that of the first day. Pete told me it’s ‘good bush’, and I nodded, though Pete could see that I didn’t know what makes bush ‘good’. ‘It just gives you a good feeling,’ he said.

As we passed over undulating hills, Rosellas and grasshoppers galore, I caught my first glimpse of a duo of King parrots among some peppermint trees, sheltered by a gully. That gave me a good feeling. This was good bush.



Uncle Pete passing by a monumental gum


In the middle of the afternoon, we arrived at Tin Mines Hut to meet the park rangers and some passengers, including my Nana – her first time visiting the huts my grandad has worked on for years. The area’s been mined for tin since the 1870s, but the hut was built in 1935 as a workshed by the Mt Pilot Tin Mining Syndicate.

By 1938 the syndicate had disbanded and the miners left, abandoning the huts. The hut sits on a wide-open green field, with the Ingegoodbee River a few hundred metres east. Pete told me you can sometimes hear the call of Corroboree frogs by the river, but their numbers have dwindled significantly since the 2019/20 bushfires.

Read more: The Snowy Mountains Backcountry Showed Me The Effects of Climate Change First Hand

Tales of Charlie Carter

Charlie Carter’s Hut sits nearby Tin Mines Hut like a little brother. Carter’s is the last remaining of seven small huts built for the syndicate, and it’s now named for the eccentric character who took up residence after the syndicate left.

Uncle Pete told me the story of how Charlie eventually left the hut; after Charlie was found dead in the hut in 1953, Pete’s father-in-law, Constable Bruce Lang of Jindabyne, set off to retrieve the body. After retrieving the body and starting off to Jindabyne in heavy rain, the rivers in flood, Charlie’s body slipped from the horse and floated down the frigid waters! Bruce jumped in, fetched the body, and the story’s been shared a thousand times since.


Charlie Carter’s Hut


Can you find Charlie’s name inscribed above the fireplace?


If you venture off the green field, behind Charlie Carter’s Hut in a southerly direction, you can find what should surely be considered one of the best outdoor dunnies in Australia. Walk up the stairway to heaven and onto the throne to look out at a forest of gums and the Ingegoodbee River.

The Doyens of Mountain Huts

Back at Cascades Hut, I met the doyens of IAC and the huts, the people I’d heard so much about over the past two days – Pat and Sue Edmondson. Well into their 90s, Pat and Sue wandered around Cascades checking on the hut and making sure we were all jovial and well-fed.


Pat and Sue Edmondson in front of Cascades Hut. Photo by Mike Edmondson


On the final night back at a lodge in Jindabyne, Pat recalled the story of how the IAC came to take care of the huts. It’d always been a club that was not only keen on skiing, but also on the mountains and the bush.

So when they heard the huts were in a sorry state (the superintendent for the Kosciuszko National Park had spread a rumour that the huts would be burnt down, to galvanise volunteers) the IAC applied to adopt Cascades and Tin Mines Hut.

Soon after, the KHA was born to oversee all of the huts in the park and over the last 50 years, on many an Easter weekend, a working party has kept the huts going.

At the end of the night celebrating this achievement, Pat said spending time with everyone at these enduring, precious mountain huts ‘gives me a good feeling’. And so the weekend was—one of good people, good bush, and good feelings.