Harry’s Hut Restoration

The instigator of restoring Harry’s Hut was Jim Worsley.

On the Australia Day weekend in 1988 Jim Worsley with his brother Gordon and their wives were touring the Eagle Vale area. Jim was aware Harry’s hut existed somewhere in the area. Jim was fortunate to encounter Bruce Dungey at the entrance to Bruce’s property Happy Valley and on inquiry Bruce enlightened Jim that Harry’s hut was in fact on his property and allowed Jim and Gordon in to look at the hut, a shadow of its former days.

Jim visited the hut again later that year on the Melbourne Cup weekend. Along with Jim was John Ricketts and both their wives. Jim got into his head he would like to restore the hut if Bruce Dungey would allow it. After this visit Jim contacted Bruce who gave his blessing for the reconstruction.

The hut as it was before restoration. Note the large opening to the right which was used for exiting sheep after being shorn.

Jim and his brothers met with Bruce on site on the 1st April 1989 and started the clean-up. This was the beginning of the restoration.

Those involved were: Brothers  Jim, Gordon, Ken and Brian Worsley, who were the originators and driving force of the project. Also heavily involved from the outset were Jims friend John Ricketts and Gordons mate Brian Johnson. Myself,  Graeme Shead followed and then other family of the participants and many friends all pitched in. Sandy Vincent was always around with his bush knowhow knowledge and some useful equipment.

John Ricketts became infatuated with Harry and the Wonnangatta unsolved murders so he wrote and published his book in 1993 “ VICTORIA’S WONNANGATTA MURDERS”.

The new outer walls are taking shape. Note that the sheep exit has now been removed.

The reconstruction was completed in the first half of 1991 and an official opening was held on the 9th June 1991 when an old friend of Harry Smiths, Alex Trahair  declared the hut open. Visitors came from all over the State and an announcement was on the ABC radio. Legends Arthur Guy and Jack Lovick attended. Wally Mortimer, author of “THE HISTORY OF THE WONNANGATTA STATION’ was also in attendance.

Since 1991 the reconstruction crew have been maintaining the hut, that’s 20 years plus. Brian Johnson has since passed away and some of us through health, work and family commitments have not been in attendance as much as others but we have never stopped. Jim has been rock solid, he initiated this project and has not wavered at all.

Harry’s Hut as it is today, fully restored.

It is a credit to Jim, and also very much a credit to Bruce Dungey to allow it to proceed and his son Barry, now the sole owner of the property that he has allowed us to continue.

For my part I began thinking numerous books had been written on the Wonnangatta Station and the murders, however we had spent years re-building and maintaining Harry’s yet no one had much detail on Harry or Eagle Vale’s land history from a Pastoral Run to a Licence, a Lease and then ownership so I spent several years gathering the information to put these papers together. Information was gathered by multiple visits to Lands, Public Records, State Library, Local Libraries, Births Deaths & Marriages and cemeteries and these papers are the end result. They have not been published but can be found on the internet free of charge for anyone to read.

Graeme Shead