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Injured horses and destroyed huts – how Kosciuszko fared the fires

Elka Wood 18 January 2020 36
Snowy Mountains highway

Snowy Mountains Highway. Photos: Michelle Brown.

Cooma resident, photographer and administrator to The Snowy Brumby Heritage Group, Michelle Brown, this week ventured on foot into Kosciuszko National Park, which burnt on New Year’s Eve.

“It was a massive shock, just driving along the park boundary. My heart dropped to my feet when I saw the devastation to our beloved park,” she shares.

Many are wondering how the park fared in the fire. Michelle’s photos tell the story.

“We confirmed that at least five of our precious Kosciuszko Huts are burnt. The landscape was charred, the scale was so enormous to comprehend,” she says. “Our first stop was Delanys Hut, which is my all-time favourite. I was gutted when I saw it was reduced to rubble.”

There are a total of 70 huts in Kosciuszko National Park, some historical and others built more recently to provide accommodation and shelter for visitors.

The remains of Delaneys Hut

The remains of historic Delaneys Hut.

“Although many people don’t even realise the huts are there, they are special to so many people who have sheltered there in winter storms.”

Sawyers Rest House was a favourite of many tourists, Michelle says, but it too was so burnt as to be unrecognisable.

“Some of these huts have burnt before and been rebuilt, but still, the lost history is so sad.”

Sawyers Hill

The Rest House at Sawyers Hill was another victim of the fire.

As a testament to how hot the fire was, one of the gas bottles attached to Wolgal Hut “exploded into a million pieces”.

“The fire had obviously burnt very hot in some places; it must have been ferocious.”

Wolgal hut

The Wolgal Hut was also reduced to rubble.

Pattersons Hut, which is privately owned, was a “beautiful hut”, according to Michelle, but all that remains after the fire is the tall brick chimney.

Michelle hopes that National Parks staff were able to save the visitors books kept in all the huts before the fire hit as they’re an important part of the history of the huts and show how valuable the structures are to locals and visitors.

Pattersons Hut

The fourth rest hut confirmed burnt – Pattersons.

“We kept on going to Mathews Hut and the Kiandra Courthouse, which were both reduced to rubble.”

Michelle reports that the Long Plain Hut was saved.

“It was partially wrapped in protective foil and a containment line had been made around it,” she says.

Long Plain Hut

Efforts were made to save Long Plain Hut, which still stands.

Checking on her beloved brumby mobs as she moved through the park, Michelle was able to see through her powerful lens that some of the horses had “burnt noses, presumably from attempting to graze on hot ground”.

She has heard that National Parks officials are moving through the parks, euthanising animals who were badly injured in the fire.

“I don’t care what kind of animal it is, no animal deserves to be in the line of fire or to suffer from painful burns afterwards,” Michelle says.

But there are large areas of the park which have not been burnt at all and Michelle says she remains positive for the future of the brumby mobs and for other animals.

Wild horses after the fire

Wild horses after the fire. Still smoky but there is green feed.

“I know how horses react to fire. They are usually pretty smart and get out of the way, and it’s encouraging to see green pick already growing through the black after only a week.”

The animals all have access to plenty of water, Michelle reports.

A Wallaby after the Kosciuszko fire

A wallaby after the Kosciuszko fire.

At her Cooma property, Michelle’s own horses are “on bare dirt”. She says that if the region gets the rain predicted this week, it will be like “all my birthdays and anniversaries have come at once!”

There’s no undoing the damage done by fire but at least, Michelle says, we can watch nature repair herself in amazement.

For more of Michelle’s photos, follow her on Facebook.

Original Article published by Elka Wood on About Regional.


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36 Responses to Injured horses and destroyed huts – how Kosciuszko fared the fires
Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:28 pm 25 Jan 20

“Why do you all blame BRUMBIES. You are so narrow minded. WHST ABOUT PIGS. LOTS UP IN KNP AND Deer. Wake up you silly narrow minded people.”

You forgot the goats and the trout.

Meredith Felkel Meredith Felkel 6:20 pm 25 Jan 20

There is now supposed to be 25000 horses. Which idiot came up with theses ridiculous figures.

rationalobserver rationalobserver 5:35 pm 24 Jan 20

Hate to tell you all this, but the NP (before the fires) was far from the pristine environment that is portrayed on web sites and tourist spam.
Before we start hating on the brumbies, let’s revisit some first principles; is the park for conservation or recreation? If it’s conservation, then focus on the blackberries and other weeds which modify the landscape and disrupt native animal food supplies far more than introduced animals. If it’s for recreation, then decide what an acceptable number of horses are and allow cultural tourism such as trail rides and brumby watching.

Shannon Lister Shannon Lister 8:39 am 22 Jan 20

Michelle Brown your famous.

Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 8:33 am 22 Jan 20

That’s simply not true. You can see very clearly the damage Brumbies are causing when you ride through KNP. We know scientifically that whole ecosystems are on the brink even in wilderness areas due to over grazing! And anyone who knows horses will tell you when there’s too many in one area they all suffer. So I don’t know what you think you are saving by letting the Park become over run with Brumbies? Brumbies numbers need to be kept to a level that ALL species, plant and animal, can not just survive but hopefully flourish. After all it’s the only place in the world some of these species exist!! That’s what protecting these areas is all about. They’re not National Parks for no good reason.

Sandy Moore Sandy Moore 10:43 pm 21 Jan 20

Hmmmmm so a lot of calls to eradicate the horses that were introduced and are not native to this land because of the damage they do.... I’m pretty sure most Australian citizens are introduced, and the land hasn’t fared well with our arrival either....... just saying

Margaret Barry Ferguson Margaret Barry Ferguson 8:22 pm 21 Jan 20

Over the years the brumbies have helped with hazard reduction, travel the whole length of the park into Victoria and they do not cause destruction, take them away and more reason for wildfire destruction like now. Hope they are safe and no need for culling, better management of our parks.

Graham Ross Graham Ross 11:25 am 21 Jan 20

The feral horses need to go. We need to let the country heal and our native animals fight for survival in a land where food is scarce.

    Tarian Dixon Tarian Dixon 4:34 pm 21 Jan 20

    The only reason the fire wasn’t worse around Adaminaby was the horses had grazed down the growth. I am grateful ( as someone who has a farm close by) that at least the brumbies has done some hazard reduction.

    Caul Fer Caul Fer 2:02 pm 22 Jan 20

    Tarian Dixon no

    Ian Mott Ian Mott 12:48 pm 24 Jan 20

    Tarian Dixon if the horses made that much difference the fire wouldn't have made it out of Bago to begin with

Pandy Pandy 9:26 am 21 Jan 20

Horses are an invasive species. They will cause even more damage to ty he fragile environs as it recovers. Time to bite the bullet and cull them

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 8:54 pm 25 Jan 20

    Your fragile environs are well and truly toast mate. Zero conservation value. May as well subdivide them now.

Olga Braga Olga Braga 7:27 am 21 Jan 20

So happy that our beautiful horses are ok. They are part of our history and part of the culture in the mountain.

Marina Bridle Marina Bridle 6:07 am 21 Jan 20

Really devastating devastation.

Charlotte Cooper Charlotte Cooper 1:30 pm 20 Jan 20

Andrew Anthony this is what I was talking about the other day

Helen Roach Helen Roach 11:36 am 20 Jan 20

Devastating to see, hope better management of this beautiful country results. Hope the grumbles were able to find somewhere away from the flames, please rethink the act of culling these beautiful animals they are a huge part of Australia's history and culture, love to see them as we drive through the mountains.

    Deborah Kaye Deborah Kaye 7:41 pm 20 Jan 20

    Helen the horses are feral pests that are decimating this country and it’s wildlife - they are also posing dangers to humans

    Helen Roach Helen Roach 9:14 am 21 Jan 20

    Well let's get rid of all the introduced species, starting with the white Australian

    Mark Oz Mark Oz 10:09 am 21 Jan 20

    Good idea ... will you lead the exodus?

    Maria Grant Maria Grant 1:47 pm 21 Jan 20

    Malcolmo Oz as hard as it is something's got to go ,our native species need our help,otherwise they will all starve

Jo Ireland Jo Ireland 10:36 am 20 Jan 20

Thanks for photos.

grim123 grim123 9:27 am 20 Jan 20

Meanwhile, the rest of us who actually care about the national park were hoping this would at least put a good dent in the feral horse population, and help tone down their destruction of the park for a while.

Ben Roberts Ben Roberts 10:09 pm 19 Jan 20

Erradicate the horses now - a reduced feed resource and exposed ground leaves the Park open to erosion and pressure upon threatened species.

Rhonda Jamieson Rhonda Jamieson 9:12 pm 19 Jan 20

Thank you Michelle for sharing.

Megan van der Velde Megan van der Velde 8:43 pm 19 Jan 20

So sad. Such destruction. I know the brumbies are loved by enthusiasts and I certainly wish them no pain or suffering however, their destructive habits on our delicate landscapes in Kosi are now going to impact even more on an ecosystem that was not designed for them as their hooves crush and they compete with native wildlife for the few green shoots available.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 8:55 pm 25 Jan 20

    Stress not. Those green shoots are most probably black berries.

Donna Brown Donna Brown 5:26 pm 19 Jan 20

Pat Ryan didn't you stay in one of these huts?

Peggy Rose Peggy Rose 5:03 pm 19 Jan 20

And the feral humans who go there ,Bill Darkwood 🤬🤬

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