Exploring Sydney's Abandoned Cliff-side Huts
In the middle of Sydney Harbour, in a tiny windswept cove in Middle Harbour, unknown to the residents around sit seven ramshackle huts built during the period 1923 to 1963.
Most of the huts at Craters Cove are built mostly from stone and sit precariously perched like a row of detached terraces on the steep, rocky cliffs of Dobroyd Head, the clifftop rocks serving as rustic stone floors. The remaining (wooden) huts are scattered around the clearing that adjoins the cove.
The huts were built at different times. The first lot were built by fishermen in the 1920s who used them for short stayovers while fishing at Craters Cove. In the 1930s they were thought to be permently occupied due to the hardships of the Great Depression. At Crater Cove it was possible escape the harsh economic times by building makeshift dwellings, fishing and growing your own food in carved out vegetable gardens.
Others seeking solitude came to Crater Cove in the 1960s and other huts were built.In the 1970s and 1980s people permanently lived in the huts enjoying what some would describe as an idyllic lifestyle in a setting that boasted million-dollar views - much to the disgust of the many landowners outside the national park who had paid millions of dollars for their harbour view properties.
This situation occurred until 1984, when occupants were forced out by the National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS). The evictions followed the NSW Government's declaration of the new Sydney Harbour National Park, which incorporated Dobyoyd Head and Craters Cove. Some of those evicted took their case to the High Court of Australia, claiming there had been permanent occupation of the huts since the 1970s and recreational use since the 1930s. They further backed their claims in arguing that, by living there, they were acting as custodians and carers for the huts and the cove. The High Court decided in favour of the government and the evictions upheld.
The huts have been boarded up since the '80s and a team of volunteer "guardians" now work with the NPWS to watch over the huts and maintain the surrounding area. The huts remain a "secret" of Sydney's history and relatively few Sydneysiders have visited or seen the huts. Many do not even know of their existence. Occasionaly, articles appear in newspaper articles with pictures of the huts.
The lack of awareness of the huts' existence is not so much because they are situated in a remote location within a national park, but rather because they are neither promoted nor publicised by the NPWS. The path leading to the huts, Crater Cove Walking Track, is deliberately not signposted. People, generally, are not encouraged to go there.