Located at 965 metres on the north east shore of Lake Tahune in the Frenchman's Cap National Park (as it was, now part of the SW NP). The hut is sheltered by the cliffs of Frenchman's Cap and overlooks the Franklin River valley. In good weather it has arguably the most spectacular view of any hut in the country. Grid: 039 198.
Photo: David Sisson, 2004
Photo: Barry Ford, 1957
In 1940 Ray Livingston lobbied for a hut to be built at Lake Tahune, but wartime shortages and his death in 1943 meant that nothing happened until after the war.
Jack Thwaites had continued to lobby for the hut and the Scenery Preservation Board commissioned a local sawmiller, Cliff (an apt name for the location) Bradshaw to build the hut. He was assisted by mill hands and his sons Bernie and Henry. The hut was mostly built in 1946 and completed in January 1947 after a bumper snow season had broken the hut's ridge pole.
The Bradshaw's had tried to carry a six foot long crosscut saw along the overgrown track but soon abandoned it and instead built the hutfrom palings split on site from the only suitable tree, a King William Pine. Bernie recalled that they made a number of trips to the site but 'were chased out by the weather a couple of times, â¦ snowflakes were coming down like dinner plates. â¦ It was quite a good hut actually. The palings fitted up pretty well and it was a reasonable size.'
Frank Hurley, legendary photographer of Shackleton's Endurance expedition was less charitable when he visited in Easter 1947. 'Only an average jobâ¦ roof timbers had warped considerably, leaving cracks rendering the hut far from weatherproof'.
However the dirt floored hut endured and gave reasonable shelter until it was destroyed by a bushfire in November 1966 that also killed many of the King William Pines in the area.
The present hut was built on the site of the old hut in June 1971. The project was overseen by Brian Collin, an H.E.C. engineer and keen bushwalker.
The prefabricated hut was adapted from an Antarctic design by the Scenery Preservation Board. The H.E.C. provided the transport. First it was taken to Mt McCall by truck and then ferried to Lake Tahune by helicopter. It took Collin and three assistants seven days to erect the hut. The porch was built out of left over timber although it was not in the plans.
Originally in the open, overlooking both Lake Tahune and the Franklin valley, the hut is now surrounded by tall scrub making it difficult to photograph. It was one of the first mountain huts to be prefabricated and entirely transported by helicopter. In this respect it was a predecessor to the second Vera Hut and the new Federation and Michell huts on Victoria's two highest mountains.
A six sided steel hut with a wooden floor resting on huon pine foundations with a huon pine skillion porch. The hut has two tables, seating and four bunks with mattresses, each accommodates four people. The stove has been removed (although scorch marks on the floor show its former location). It has been replaced by a methylated spirits heater, however metho is rarely provided.
A water tank is located on the south western side of the hut. To the north is a dunny perched on the edge of a cliff and an exposed helipad with great views over the Franklin valley. Sheltered campsites are located near the helipad and south east of the hut overlooking the lake.
This article compiled by David Sisson. The following sources were used:
- Simon Kleinig. 55 years at Tahune Hut. pp 95 - 99, Tasmanian Tramp. No 34. 2002.
- John Chapman. South west Tasmania: a Guidebook for Bushwalkers. 4th ed. John Chapman, 1998.
- John Siseman & John Chapman. Cradle Mountain National Park: Frenchmans Cap - Walls of Jerusalem. [1st ed.] Algona, 1979. pp. 106 - 115.
- Phil Robinson. A climbers guide to Frenchman's Cap NP, 1979. pp. 9, 11.
- Simon Kleinig. Journeys to the Ivory Tower: in the footsteps of the pioneers. pp. 28 - 31 in Wild No. 77. Winter 2000.
- The hut is also mentioned in occasional issues of the Tasmanian Tramp, Skyline, Outdoor Australia and Wild.
Profile last updated 15 February 2005.