KOSCIUSZKO HUTS ASSOCIATION

The news of Robert's death on 20th February 1999 was telephoned to me by two of his many friends, Deidre Shaw and Fiona Brand. Fiona is writing about him for the NPA journal, so I will limit my comments to what I know about his contribution to saving the huts and to his support and friendship to me during my time as President of KHA from 1987 to 1992.

Robert was a founding member of KHA and President from 1973 to 1976. I understand that he served on the committee in several other positions for some years afterwards. These were the hardest years for KHA and that hardy band of early battlers.

Robert and Sybil were caretakers of Schofields hut and were scrupulous in following the directives of the NPWS Huts Liaison officers in its restoration. This must have irked both of them, particularly as it was insisted that the smoky chimney be restored to original condition. I recall Robert being pleased that he tracked some old fashioned rivets in a ramshackle Queanbeyan hardware store. So the workparties continued, and eventually the hut was fully restored including the smoky chimney, and the impressive 16 pane window. Their hearts were nearly broken when not long afterwards the drawing qualities of the fireplace were "improved" by the smashing of several window panes, and deftly executed axe cuts in the metal.

Robert was a great attender at KHA annual general and other meetings, many who were there will recall his skill with our language, and his impatience with obsfucation. In particular he would never let a National Parks representative get away with talking about "removing" huts, He insisted the correct word was "destroy". And so, one of the most gentlemanly people I have ever known was not afraid to speak his mind when occasion demanded it.

When I was elected to the position of President of KHA in 1988, I took a huge gulp and sought out people whom I could regard as mentors. Robert was one of these people who generously gave me their time, support and advice. Others were my friend Klaus Hueneke, Gatis Gregors and Michael Pearson from the Heritage Commission. Roberts support during those difficult times will never be forgotten.

I also think of my visits to his home over the years. If it was late afternoon I would be treated to a glass of his excellent home brew. More frequently however, Robert and Sybil hosted many meetings of the Historical group, where a group of us would share our discoveries, enjoy the company and usually a cup of excellent coffee of which Robert was justly proud.

Finally, I recall how he would farewell me and all his guests, not just at the front door, but by walking with us right to our cars.

Sybil passed also passed away in January 2004. Sadly, we now farewell both of them.

 

Graham Scully, 2010