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The Mountain Huts: A Lengthy Involvement

Klaus seems to have been linked to the Kosciusko Huts forever. He is the well known author of "Huts of the High Country", generally considered the definitive book on the topic. Klaus is a long time member of KHA and one time HMO. Here is his account of his life, in a nutshell!

Klaus was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2012:

For service to conservation and the environment as an historian, author and photographer, and to the preservation of Australia's built heritage, particularly in the Snowy Mountains region.

 1948  -  I was born near Hameln on the river Weser in Germany.

1953  -  I was nine years old when my father came home from three weeks of skiing in the Austrian Alps. Saw many 8mm home movies featuring skiing and mountain huts in the Austrian and Bavarian Alps. There were also lots of photo albums to look at and many adventures to listen to.

1958  -  After arriving in Orange in 1955, we went skiing at Thredbo. It had about twelve half finished lodges. We made a day tour to Mt Kosciusko.

1967  -  My first long bushwalk in the high country - started on Mt Kosciusko and followed the main range to Jagungal. It finished at Perisher and took in about eight mountain huts.

1968  -  First long ski tour. Stayed at Albina, Mawsons, Tin and other huts.

1973 to 1976  -  Moved to Canberra and joined the KHA in 1974. Many long bushwalks and ski tours to huts. Started making notes and taking photos at Four Mile hut. I had a hunch that the more we knew about the huts the more likely we were to save them.  Discovered that much of the history of the huts was in the heads of old timers and that I had to interview them. In time, myself and others made about 100 interviews. I began to write feature articles about the mountains and the huts - there are now about fifty. Celebrated 50th Anniversary of the first winter crossing from Kiandra to Kosciusko. Bill Hughes, my first interviewee, came to Kiandra. The 75th Anniversary is next year and there is talk of celebrating it again.Made a twenty minute feature film about the huts. It was 'premiered' at a Labour Party gathering in Queanbeyan. It is on a KHA video.

1977  -  Became Huts Maintenance Officer for three years. In those days this meant looking after all the huts in KNP. Arrangements with NPWS were pretty loose, there were no conservation plans. If work needed doing all I usually did was notify the ranger of the date and the nature of the work. I was involved in work on Boltons, Witses, Four Mile and Boobee, amongst others.

1980  -  NPWS released a draft policy document in which they proposed to remove half the huts between Kiandra and Kosciusko plus all the huts on the Main Range except Seamans. The shit hit the fan (to put it quite bluntly) and we conducted a big campaign to save the huts. I became president of KHA and had my hands full. Hundreds of people supported "the Cause" and we were successful in saving all huts except two sacrificial lambs, Albina and Rawsons.

1982  -  ANU Press published 'Huts of the High Country', selling 5,000 copies in the first year. I've kept it in print ever since. Many people still consider it the bible and refer to it whenever they go on a bushwalk or ski tour.

1987  -  In doing the research for the huts book I discovered many interesting and well written articles about journeys across the high country. They became the foundation for the book 'Kiandra to Kosciusko'. I started to contemplate a three volume history of the high country.

1988  -  Paddy Pallin and I (to a lesser extent) attracted a wall to wall crowd to a talk and slide show at the Griffin Centre. It was one of Paddy's last talks.

1991  -  Published 'Kosciusko - where the Ice-Trees Burn', a book of colour photos including many huts. Neville Reece organised the taping of slides and voice for a KHA video.

1995  -  I finally found the courage and the helpers to finish 'People of the Australian High Country', the third volume of a history of the high country. Pauline Downing, Graham Scully, Chris Moger and many, many others, helped with transcribing interviews. The book's launch in Berridale was the biggest gathering of old timers in a long time. Donated 10% of sales to KHA.

Published 'One Step at a Time', an autobiography centred around journeys into the bush including those of my parents in Europe in the 1930s. KHA purchased 120 historic photos for the Collection.

Donated sets of my books to be placed in five huts - Mawsons, Wheelers, Grey Mare, Daveys and Burrungubuggee.

2003  -  Published 'Huts in the Victorian Alps and the people who care for them'. As a result of its success, donated $1000 to the Victorian High Country Huts Association.

2004-8  -  Produced annual calendars on 'Huts' and 'High Country' from 2004 to 2008.

2006  -  Published a book of photos 'Mountain Landscapes and Historic Huts - Namadgi, Kosciuszko, Victorian Alps, Tasmania' .

2007  -  Archived ten boxes of notes, correspondence with mountain folk, other letters, various manuscripts, photos, scrap books, newspaper clippings, articles written, source material, field recordings, family history, radio interviews, academic theses, diaries, early writings, etc into the National Library in 2007.

2008  -  Klaus is working towards a book of landscape photos about the South Coast of NSW. His book distribution business Tabletop Press is now 21 years old. It supplies books on the high country to about 50 shops.

2027 The 100th Anniversary of Kiandra to Kosciuszko ski journey will be in 2027.



BOOKS, ARTICLES and PHOTO ESSAYS (1975-2011) by Klaus Hueneke

1975 A pair of skis and a pack. Australia Now, V 5 No 2.
Cover photo and article, Hemisphere V19 No8

1976 The high country gold rush. Canberra Times, 28/8/76

1977 1927-77 Fifty years of ski touring. Canberra Times, 30/7/77
The wombat on the flat (poem) Canberra Times, 24/9/77
EXPLORATION CREATIVITY, CCE (Book) with Caroline Josephs

1978 The grandeur of old Coolamine crumbles. Canberra Times, 22/7/78
Kiandra 1861 - where skiing began. Canberra Historical Journal No 2
The Kiandra - Kosciusko crossing 50 years later. Ski Year Book
Impressions on Snowden. Canberra Times 15/4/78

1979 Robbie Kilpinen : the flying Finn. Ski Year Book
Old huts of the Snowy Mountains. Canberra Historical Jn No 3
Empathy in photography. Communicating Arts Magazine.
BEYOND THE COTTER, ANU Press (Book) with Alan Mortlock

1980 Cover photo, Fall Line, V12 No4
Skiing 70 kms to the Snowy River. Canberra Times.

1981 The coming of the snows. Canberra Times, 19/7/81.
Cover photo. UNESCO Review, March.

1982 High Country Huts - Kosciusko's hidden heritage. Heritage Aust V 1 No 2.
Portfolio. Wild, Oct.
Portfolio. Hoofs and Horns.
Cover photo. NPA Jn, V26 No2.
Kiandra to Kosciusko. Wild, October.

1983 Wheelers - crown jewel of Kosciusko huts. Canberra Times 27/11/83.
Ted Winter-the man and his mountains. Fall Line, No 3.
Photo Essay. Overlander
NSW Wilderness Calendar

1984 Twenty five years in the high country. Ski Year Book.
Snowy Mountain Days. Part 1 & 2 of the history of bushwalking and ski touring. Wild, Jan & Oct.
Cover photo, Wild, No 14.

1985 Four Mile Hut - Bob Hughes Shangri-la in the Kiandra Hills. Snowy River Country, V 1.
Wheelers Hut. Heritage Australia, Spring.
A man and a woman from Snowy River. Snowy River Country, V 2.
Quinkin Country Cape York. Simply Living.
Arltunga Central Australia. Geo V 7 No 4.
Poster of alpine ash, NP&WS
Alpine images, Fall Line V17, No2.
High Country Shelters, Snowy River Country, V2.

1986 Mount Feathertop. Wild, April.
A Bush Christmas. Wild, April.
The snow never stopped - a week at Kelly's and Mackey's Hut. Snowy River Country, V 3.
Tiger Walker, Australian Geographic, V1 No3.
Cover photo. Snowy River Country V3
Portfolio. Snowy River Country V3 and 4
Ted Winter. Ski Extra, July.

1987 Coolamine - restored mountain outpost with a colourful history. Snowy River Country, V 5.
Tiger Bushwalker Peter Treseder. Wild, April.
KIANDRA TO KOSCIUSKO Tabletop Press (Book)
Portfolio. Snowy River Country, V5
Photo ACF Wilderness Calendar

1988 Portfolio, Snowy River Country, V8 and 10
Photo ACF Wilderness Calendar

1989 The mountain huts of Tasmania. Heritage Australia, Spring.
If you go down to the woods. Bogong V 10 No 4.
Photo, ACF Wilderness Calendar

Photo, Wilderness Soc Calendar
Photos, Aust Alps Tourist Map
Photos in Banjo Patersons High Country (A&R)

1990 Of shacks, tracks and blackened trees. Wild, No 35.
Rest came in the garb of White Death (Seaman and Hayes), Canberra Times, 27/6/90
Dark Clouds lift from Huts of High Country. Canberra Times 15/7/90
KOSCIUSKO - WHERE THE ICE-TREES BURN Tabletop Press (Book of photos)
Photo essay, Heritage Aust, Winter.

1991 Charlie Carter, hermit of the High Country. Canberra Historical Jn. No 28.
Cover photos, Snowy Times
Photo, Wilderness Calendar
Photos, Wild Magazine
Cover photo 'Kosciusko - Mountain in History'.
Cover photo, Cooee.

1992 Cover photo, Snowy Times.
Photos in Cultural Heritage of Aust Alps (a book)

1993 Photo, Wilderness Calendar ACF
Photos in Skiing the Western Faces

1994 Winter tragedy on Mt Kosciusko, Wild, No 52
Photo Wilderness Diary
Photos in Skis on the Brindabellas and Searching for the Snowy.

1995 Our cattle liked the Scenery. National Library News, June.
Photos in KHA Newsletter

1996 The elusive Peaks of Namadgi. Canberra Times, 7/4/96
TILTING AT SNOWGUMS with Mark O'Connor (Book, Tabletop Press)
The thrill of the chill. Canberra Times, 21/7/96
A trip down a string of Pearls, Canberra Times, 26/10/96
Photos in The Bulletin

1997 Rolling on a River. Canberra Times 4/5/97.
The call of the wild, weird and wonderful. Canberra Times 9/11/97
From Cold War to a new life in the sun. Canberra Times 30/11/97
Above the Snowgums. Photo exhibition Botanical Gardens.

1998 Summer in the cool, alluring mountains. Canberra Times 18/1/98
Climbing Mt Bogong, Almost. Canberra Times 17/5/98
Good old Kombi goes exploring. Canberra Times 22/8/98
New Australian kid in leather shorts. Canberra Times 28/11/98
I Lift my eyes to the High Country. Canberra Times, 12/12/98
Photos in If I wake in the middle of the night.
Back to Nature, Canberra Times.
Cover photo on the book Earliest Monaro

1999 Life and Death in the High Country. Canberra Times, 20/6/99
The wild enjoyed in many ways. Canberra Times, 17/7/99
'ONE STEP AT A TIME.' Tabletop Press (Book)
Life in the High Country. Geo, Vol 21, No 4.

2000 Downy, decorative snow can also be deadly. Canberra Times, 24/6/2000

2001 Writers profile in ACT Write, March.

2001 Huts-a certain fascination. KHA Newsletter.

2002 Celebrating the Australian Alps, Canberra Times 14/9/02 and News from the Alps, No 28.

2003 Photos in five Topmill Calendars including Huts.
Journey through the Ashes, Canberra Times.

2004 Photos in Topmill Calendar Huts.

2005 Photos in two calendars Huts and High Country

2006 Photos in calendars
Celebrating the Australian Alps, Wild Magazine.

2007 Photos in two calendars

Saving Huts of the High Country, Canberra Times, Feb.

2008 Photos in calendar
Life through the lens. Photo essay - Great Walks magazine.

2009 High Country Havens. Article Australian Geographic (January-March)
Photos purchased by NP&WS for Kiandra History displays
Photos in calendars

2010 Photos in huts calendar
Photos used for interpretive walk, Namadgi National Park
Photos and oral history tapes purchased by Mitchell Library in Sydney

2011 STRING OF PEARLS - the South Coast of NSW. Book of photos. Tabletop Press.
Photos in huts calendar and various newspapers.

About a man called Klaus Hueneke

I was born at the end of a long and trying labour, in Rolfshagen, a tiny village near Rinteln,
Germany. It was just before the Nazis finally capitulated. With the rest of my family I cruised across
to Australia on a very big ship in 1955 and lived in a simple fibro cottage on a hillside called Glenroi
Heights in Orange for seven years. Most of the time at Orange High I was confused, out of my depth
and terribly self conscious but still clever enough to get to Teachers College.
I've been a jack of many trades and, until about twenty years ago, master of none. I've tried my
hand and brain at teaching manual arts, photo-journalism, environmental planning, being a meticulous
academic, ski instructing, mountain guiding, running adult education courses and, not to forget, being
a father and partner. I have lived in Newcastle, Yanco, Dapto, Wellington, Sydney and Canberra, and
in an ashram near Bombay for a month.
One of my passions is the Australian Alps. I have photographed them, interviewed numerous
old timers who were born around them, skied and walked them from one end to the other, and by
degrees managed to turn them into something I could make a living from.
The BIG breakthrough came in 1982 when ANU Press published 'Huts of the High Country'.
Now in its seventh printing it has sold 14,000 copies, a great start for a writer. Having seen what
publishing was all about I set up Tabletop Press in 1984. Initially I published my own books,
eg, 'Kosciusko - where the Ice-Trees Burn' and 'People of the Australian High Country', but having
developed expertise in this field I was soon called upon to help others. They included Alan Andrews
with 'Kosciusko - The Mountain in History', Matthew Higgins with 'Skis on the Brindabellas' and
Gwen Wilson with 'Murray of Yarralumla'. I've collaborated with Mark O'Connor, the Olympic poet,
on a volume of poetry and photos called 'Tilting at Snowgums' and I've reprinted some old classics.
Having printed these books they needed to be sold, so with loaded campervan I took to the
road and covered numerous bookshops in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and sundry watering places in
between. I discovered that I could be a specialist wholesaler of books about the Australian Alps and
proceeded to buy in books from other publishers.
In 1996 I decided that I would suspend writing about the life and adventures of others and
write about my own. This turned out to be much more demanding than I had thought especially if I
was to be honest and sincere about it. The result was 'One Step at a Time'. Since then I have produced
the award winning book - Huts in the Victorian Alps and two photographic books - Mountain
Landscapes and Historic Huts and A String of Pearls - the South Coast of NSW . In between books
I've produced over 100 feature articles and photo essays for magazines and newspapers.
Im an honorary life member of various clubs and in younger days obtained many Life Saving
Awards including the Award of Merit and the Distinction. The interest in life saving followed my
clumsy rescue of two people from the Georges River when I was 14 years old. At university I
completed an arts degree with honours and a Master of Science in plant ecology. I belong to an
exclusive, but quite large club who did not complete a Ph D. University taught me many things but not
how to make a living. Life taught me that. It also taught me that if you enhance your community with 
a substantial body of work you may get an Order of Australia. This happened in 2012.
Ive had a number of dramatic dalliances and three meaningful, long term relationships with
women (in tandem and not like some Mormons, all at once!) and am now married to Patricia, a herbal
medicine practitioner. I have, over the years, helped to bring up six children, two of whom are my
own. I now have five grandchildren, Jarrah, Angus, Zoe, Ben and Hailey.
I love Australia and being an Australian, and, having sung the stirring words in several choirs,
think that our national anthem should be 'I am Australian'. I tend towards Republicanism but have a
soft spot for the current queen. I would like our parliament to be more inclusive and less adversarial. I
follow an ancient spiritual tradition called Siddha Yoga and like to meditate and chant.
More than anything else I'm a human being trying to make sense of life, death and all things in
between. I've had fleeting glimpses of the Holy Grail but not yet grasped its full splendour.

Profile last updated 3rd May 2016.