KOSCIUSZKO HUTS ASSOCIATION

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In 1988, Rosemary Curry recorded the following interview with Gladys Weston.

Gladys Weston: After Pop got a letter, he'd have to light the lamp to read it, and then we'd put it out. Kerosene was dangerous to carry. We used candles. 

 

The huts of the mountains were roofed with bark. They cut the bark off the trees and put it down and flattened it. It kept all the rain out. My dad's hut was comfy and beautiful. The men would go into the valleys for the bark.

My Dad went up to the mountains when he was very young. I got my arm broken when I was six, and he was up in the mountains then. My dad built Snowvale up because he stayed in there all summer ... it was burnt down since.

When the Snowy took over the mountains, and put the mountain men off, the 'hikers used to use it. They burnt it down.

The men who were up there mustering ... they all had a hand in building that hut up. My dad wouldn't leave the mountains. He stayed there til he was old. He loved the mountains.

My grandfather had 13 children, and dad was the eldest; 14 actually, but one girl died of Pink's Disease when she was only young.

My dad's hut was built of slabs ... my dad had it lined inside with some kind of paper. Then they'd get kerosene tins, cut them into strips about so long, and put them between the slabs. The wind up there would drive the snow and sleet through the smallest hole. I remember a bullock team coming up there once and they brought salt up. A bullock team can go nearly anywhere. They brought salt up to Tin Hut ... they couldn't get it to where we stayed in on account of the bogs, and then we used to go over and take a pack horse and put a piece of salt on each side and take it home.

My son had a little pony, a spiteful little thing. It bit the pack horse, and the pack horse pulled back, he let it go and away it went. My son hadn't been leading it before, and it went away over the swamps, and we never found the pack saddle and salt. I said, 'don't worry, everything will make a track to that salt'. But we never found it.

Block salt is no good in the snow ... it goes to pieces too easily. It had to be rock salt to be licked. When they could take those little square blocks up into the mountains, while they could attend to them, they put them out because they were good for them.

But when they put them up for the winter, they couldn't go up and look after them, so then they put out the rock salt. They'd put out the rock salt in the mustering time; they'd take the other salt away. All the cattle would congregate around. My husband would go out and say,

"call the cattle," and they'd come from everywhere. They'd hear the call for the salt.

I only know of one bullock team, that went up there, the one where we stayed at. It took the materials up for White River Hut to get built .. It took one special man to drive the bullocks. I went to see the man shoe the bullocks once. What a pity I didn't bring the shoes home. They're made in two pieces you see. I saw him doing it lots of times, but didn't go too much on his language. They used to call their animals Blossom, Pansy, and all that, but the language they used when they got stuck in a creek! When they were pulling up hill, sometimes they'd sway off the road, and then the men would call them all the names in the world. His whip handle would be as long as a door. It wouldn't have a very long lash on. He could flip it over the ears of the leaders. Mr Jack Adams ... he was about the last of the bullockies that I know of. He lived to be 90. His son took the bullocks over later, and he used to look after the sheep up there on the Kosciusko Road.

I've seen the most gorgeous sunsets up there. We were riding along one day and it was a bit misty. My husband was in the lead. We were behind ... he always went first to go through the bog. He had a rainbow all around him. When we used to ride over the ranges, we could see the sun setting way down in Victoria. We were up above the sun. I've been above the sun.

There were little grass snakes. I said to a man who was up there one day, "I saw a little grass snake today, and his eyes were like rubies; a pretty little thing." I said, "harmless aren't they?" He said, "Well they may be. One bit my dog and killed it."

There was a criminal loose, came up from that detention farm down on the Murray. We had an old gun there, I don't know how old it was, and I got it out to put it on the bed in the spare room, so Pop came in and he said "what did you take the gun down for?" I said, "if that man comes in here I'd shoot him." He said .. "if you did, you'd get the bullet, not him"

He said, "It's very likely blocked with a wasp's nest."

He (the man) had a sawn-off rifle, and he did visit a couple of huts that  happened to be on his route.

We were coming home late one night. When we got near, we saw something had knocked the rails down. My husband said, "I better put the rails up or this'll be full of cattle." You go home, take the kids home and make a fire." And we got to the second landing ... we'd go down a narrow track with just room for the horses, then down again, and another track with just room for the horses, and when we got down to the third landing we saw a light in the hut. We knew there was nobody there but us. I didn't know what to do. *

I said to the boys "We'll stay here til Pop comes."

The horses wouldn't wait of course. We couldn't do anything with the horses. I couldn't wait for Pop. I knew he'd do the fences properly. I thought, I'll have to do something." I said "well, when we get down to the bottom, slip off the horses and let them go, and run into the scrub. Anyway, we got down, we couldn't hold the horses ... they would go home. The track was very narrow. Stan was only eight years old. I said "the horses won't go anywhere, cause that's where they get their feed. Stay there in the scrub until your father comes."I rode down, and when I got to the hut I was met by a whole pack of dogs, and when the man came out, I couldn't speak to him. It was a friend. He said "I've got a pot of potatoes cooked ready for tea." I couldn't say a word.


Rosemary Curry :

*Stan, Gladys' son, told me (1989) he remembers this incident as "something exciting, an adventure."