Faced with a whole landscape of features with names unknown to the European settlers, they tended to resort to the always obliging literal. As I have previously lamented, this resulted in innumerable landmarks consisting of adjective + noun, more often than not drawing on either “big”, “little”, “rocky” and other generic terms. Up at Kiandra, the now-abandoned mining township that was home of the world’s first recreational ski club, many of the features were named by the miners after their distance from Kiandra. Thus there is Three Mile Dam, Nine Mile Diggings, and Four Mile Hut, amongst others.
Of course, the result of this is that if one starts from the convenient overnight carparks at Selwyn Snowfields, then they are actually about three miles from Four Mile Hut.
Nevertheless, the advantages of starting at Selwyn included both some playing around at the resort (though we had to hike ourselves back up the slope rather than taking the tow), and a snowy ridgeline to follow to the Australian Alps Walking Track. Although the season was relatively poor, and the snow minimal (especially by mid-August standards), we maintained an elevation of about 1500m (and snow) until the last run down to the hut.
And a lovely hut it is indeed. Four Mile Hut is the last complete hut remaining on the Kiandra gold fields, built in 1937 and maintained by the Kosciuszko Huts Association. The toilet is tastefully hidden in the nearby trees, and includes a two-part door (for those wanting a view while go about their business). Yet the highlight of the hut was finding a rather pretentious book of poetry, and entertaining ourselves reading extracts from it into the evening.
The next day we were very grateful for having chosen a short and east route, as we’d all chosen poorly from the selection of Australian National University Mountaineering Club telemark boots, and were all suffering for it. Even so, this would probably be my top pick for an easy beginner skiing trip!
For more history of the area, see Kiandra History.