IN DEPTH

Bushfire in Crowdy Bay National Park destroys Kylie's Hut and precious coastal rainforest

DESTROYED: Kylie's Hut and the national park around Diamond Head has been destroyed. Photo: National Parks and Wildlife.
DESTROYED: Kylie's Hut and the national park around Diamond Head has been destroyed. Photo: National Parks and Wildlife.

A PIECE of history has been reduced to ash with Kylie's Hut in Crowdy Bay National Park destroyed by fire.

The ferocious bushfire in the national park has burned more than 12,000 hectares including pockets of precious coastal rainforest.

A National Parks and Wildlife spokesperson said the the true impact of the fire in Crowdy Bay National Park and the damage around Kylie's Hut is yet to be determined.

"It appears that Kylie's Hut has been lost, however, a detailed assessment of the fire impact of Crowdy Bay National Park has not yet been made," the spokesperson said.

"Local National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) fire crews continue to focus on fighting active fire to protect life and property throughout the Hastings and Macleay valleys.

"Crowdy Bay National Park remains closed for public safety. People are reminded for their safety to observe the park closures."

Kylie's Hut is an historic residence originally built by local man Ernie Metcalfe for Australian author Kylie Tennant who moved to the area during World War II.

RETREAT: Kylie's Hut was a retreat for writers and the community. PHOTO: Camden Haven Historical Society.

RETREAT: Kylie's Hut was a retreat for writers and the community. PHOTO: Camden Haven Historical Society.

Kylie used the hut as a writer's retreat and the stunning scenery of the park for inspiration, which over the years has become a safe haven for other budding writers.

In 1997 the then-president of the Camden Haven Historical Society, Connie Jones, wrote about Kylie and how she came to be in Laurieton.

"Kylie Tennant was married to Charles Rodd, the headmaster of the Laurieton school," Ms Jones wrote.

"She was a prize-winning author when they wrangled a move for him from Maitland to Laurieton as Kylie wanted a quiet place to write another novel. It was during World War II in the forties when they settled into the old school house, intending to stay for just two years.

"In the end they remained for 11 and left with regret for health reasons."

Ms Jones wrote that it was during the early days of her time in Laurieton that Kylie befriended Ernie Metcalfe, a returned soldier from the Great War.

"Kylie loved Diamond Head for its untamed wildness and unspoilt beauty," she wrote.

"The independence and resourcefulness of those who lived there without any modern conveniences also appealed to her. After the birth of her daughter, she took the child out there for an extended stay so her husband could get some sleep and they both thrived.

FRIENDS: Ernie Metcalfe and Kylie Tennant. PHOTO: Camden Haven Historical Society.

FRIENDS: Ernie Metcalfe and Kylie Tennant. PHOTO: Camden Haven Historical Society.

"So then formed the idea of building a place at Diamond Head. This then became Kylie's retreat in troubled times and a place of relaxation for the whole family, even after they had left Laurieton."

Dunbogan resident Sue Baker said when news came through the whole area around Kylie's Hut was destroyed it was "devastating".

"The whole area held a lot of significance to the local community, from Kylie's Hut to the gorgeous coastal rainforest around Diamond Head," Mrs Baker said.

"It is all spectacular scenery set at the foot of the most magnificent headland walks. Lots of locals come to the area to swim, surf and relax."

Mrs Baker said that because the area is still a no-go zone due to the fire activity, there are a number of concerns locals have for the environment and the local wildlife.

"We have been working on the bushland for more than 40 years in the area on bush regeneration projects and we believe it has all been wiped out," she said.

Mrs Baker said that because the area is still inaccessible due to the fire activity there are a number of concerns locals have for the environment and the local wildlife.

"We still don't know the full extend of the damage which is quite concerning.

"There is so much precious coastal rainforest around Diamond Head and Kylie's Hut and our hope is that some pockets survived but we aren't sure.

"We have great concerns for the wildlife and any surviving wildlife access to food and water."

Bonny Hills resident Ross Bennett said he also had a strong connection to Kylie's Hut and the Diamond Head area.

"I have some great memories of my times spent out there," Mr Bennett said.

"I came to the area on holidays as a child and I have lived for 48 years. When we came up here we gravitated to the area because of the beauty. It is just crazy and sad that it is all gone."

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