Did you know Australia offers hiking from historic hut to hut?

When you think of the hut-to-hut hikes, places like the U.S. Appalachian Trail, Switzerland and Ireland probably come to mind.

Add Australia to that list. The country offers several hut networks for hikers (and skiers).

Among Australia’s huts are some 200 historic huts, with some being more than 150 years old. Cattlemen, gold miners, lumberjacks, skiers and bushwalkers built the huts for shelter in often harsh and isolated conditions. Aboriginal Australians even used some huts as camp sites.

The historic huts, which have been restored and preserved, are for temporary use — to be slept in only during emergencies. But you can hang out, get warm and cook in the huts, which typically come with a set of rules and etiquette. (See some basic hut rules at the end of this post.) In Victoria, some huts are not available for public use.

Huts are typically made of wood or iron sheeting and always are unlocked and stocked with matches and some firewood. Here’s a sampling of Australia’s historic huts:

Inside Wallace Hut (Sheryl Jean)
Peek inside historic Wallace Hut to see the names of cattlemen and others who first used it burnt into the roof beams. (Sheryl Jean)

Wallace Hut, Alpine National Park, Victoria

Many huts have burned during wildfires, but Wallace Hut survived. Overall, Alpine National Park has 106 huts, including nearly 60 historic huts.

Wallace Hut is the oldest in Alpine National Park, which has 106 huts, including nearly 60 historic ones. Three brothers — Arthur, William and Stewart Wallace built Wallace Hut by hand from snow gum slabs in 1889. The Wallaces grazed their cattle on the High Plains from 1869 to 1914.

You can’t enter the cattleman’s hut, but you can peek through a window and see its rustic interior. (See photo above.)

The walking track to Wallace Hut starts along the Bogong High Plains Road. The walk to the hut is nearly 1 mile round trip. A longer, but pretty walk from Wallace Hut to Cope Hut — called Wallaces Heritage Trail — is 3.5 miles round trip.

Map of Wallaces Heritage Trail
Here’s a map, provided by Alpine National Park, of the Wallaces Heritage Trail and shorter options. (Sheryl Jean)

Cope Hut, Alpine National Park, Victoria

This historic hut offers panoramic views of the High Plains and the Great Dividing Range.

Cattlemen built most of the huts in the Victorian Alps for their use, but Cope Hut was the first hut built specifically for tourists on the Bogong High Plains. It was built in 1929, largely due to lobbying efforts by the Ski Club of Victoria to have skier accommodations on the High Plains.

It’s a short walk (15 minutes round trip) to Cope Hut from the car park on the Bogong High Plains Road. Near the car park are some lovely picnic spots with fantastic vistas of the High Plains and distant mountains.

Cope Hut, Alpine National Park, Australia
Cope Hut sits on a hillside, offering spectacular views of the High Plains in Alpine National Park. (Sheryl Jean)

Green Gully Track, New South Wales

This 40-mile, hut-to-hut hike is one of Australia’s best. The remote track in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, which is about an eight-hour drive from Sydney, boasts the Apsley-Macleay gorges, one of Australia’s largest gorge systems, as well as mountain streams, forests and wildlife.

Hikers will stay in five restored stockman huts over four days: Cedar Creek Cottage, Birds Nest Hut, Green Gully Hut, Colwells Hut and Cedar Creek Lodge. The huts include fireplaces, cots, solar lights, non-flush toilets and cooking equipment facilities; one hut  has a solar-powered outdoor hot shower.

White’s River Hut, New South Wales

Surrounded by Snow Gum slopes, this cozy hut in the Kosciuszko’s Main Range has a fireplace, dining room, bunk rooms and toilet. The hut is accessible only by hiking, biking or skiing. The Kosciusko Alpine Club has run the hut since 1938 and restored it in 2011. It charges an overnight fee.

The Overland Track, Tasmania

This may be Australia’s most iconic alpine trek: 40 miles over six days through the stunning Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Hikers will see moorlands, swamps, rainforests, eucalyptus forests and alpine meadows.

Anyone can stay overnight, cook and rest in six huts along the Overland Track. Each hut has sleeping platforms, tables and benches, coal or gas heaters, composting toilets and rainwater tanks, but the don’t have lighting or cooking facilities. Huts cannot be pre-booked, so still carry a tent and sleeping bags.

Three historic huts on the Overland Track — Du Cane, Kitchen and Old Pelion — can only be slept in during emergencies.

Kia Ora Hut on Tasmania's Overland Track
Hikers on Tasmania’s Overland Track can stay in the rustic Kia Ora Hut. (Tatters @ Flickr)

Basic hut rules

  • Leave the hut as you found it.
  • If you use the fireplace, make sure the fire is completely out when you leave.
  • Close all doors and windows.
  • Don’t leave food in the hut. It clutters it up and attracts possums or other animals.

“Flat white” and “long black:” Aussie cafe culture has its own language

Like surfing, Australia has a strong coffee culture.

It also has its own coffee language.

When I saw “flat white” and “long black” on a cafe menu during a recent visit to Australia, I had to ask for a description. After reading this post, you won’t have to do that.

Australia’s large Italian, Greek and other immigrant populations have influenced its coffee culture. So, Australian coffee tends to be good and strong — just the way I like it.

The country’s cafes often have full menus that serve good food. Some are small and intimate; others are large and lofty. They’re popular meeting places — even at night.

Australia coffee
Cafes pop up everywhere — such as this one at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

This is not a post of best cafes because there are too many. Independent cafes (or small coffee chains) grace nearly every corner of big cities, such as Melbourne and Sydney, and small towns. Many local cafes also roast and distribute their own coffee. Just explore.

So mate, here’s a glossary to order coffee in Australia.

Espresso or short black: This is a shot of strong Italian coffee called espresso.

Doppio: This is a double shot of espresso.

Long black: This is a double espresso with hot water. It’s called an Americano in the United States.

Macchiato: A shot of espresso is served with a small amount of frothed milk. It’s small and strong, like an espresso.

Latte: This is a shot of espresso mixed with foamy hot milk. It’s usually the milkiest option.

Flat white: This might be the most Australian coffee drink. One shot of espresso is mixed with steamed hot milk. A barista in Melbourne described it to me as a latte without the foam.

Cappuccino: In an Australian Cappuccino, the espresso is dusted with unsweetened cocoa powder before frothy steamed milk is added. It’s a milkier version of Cappuccino.

Mocha: A latte with chocolate.

coffee
Market Lane Coffee in Melbourne, always has a line. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)