The huts in the high country were built by stockmen, prospectors, recreational fishermen, skiers and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to meet their accommodation, shelter, recreational and hydrology needs at the time. Many of these huts have been lost through fire and decay, but around120 of them still remain. These are now cared for co-operatively by KHA and the Park Services.
The KHA Newsletter is a favourite with all KHA members. It is their quarterly “fix” for knowledge they yearn so much for about the high country huts, the heritage surrounding these unique structures as well as the environment in which they sit.
I became the newsletter editor in 1998 and continued in this role for almost nine years. Over that time there were major changes to the development and distribution of the newsletter - the electronic age was coming making my job so much easier, faster and more efficient with the bulk of photos and articles being despatched online from contributors. In 1998, the newsletter was all black and white, and printed on photocopier paper, photos were attached precariously to the appropriate article or page with a paper clip, the completed pages bundled up in the correct order and sent off through the mail to the printer (Lowes Printery in Garran, Canberra). It was then up to somebody (probably a committee member) to pick up the newsletters from the printery as well as the original document and the photos. I believe with this system, some photos were never returned to their original owners and therefore precious photos lost. I did not live in Canberra, I lived in Wagga and from the time I sent the newsletter to the printer in Canberra from Wagga, I was not responsible for its printing or despatch.
There had to be a better way and the digital age was a contributing factor to improving those out-dated systems. Photos started to arrive via email during 2001 but one must remember many KHA members were slow to invest in the computer and online medium.
Fast forward to the Winter Edition 2003 when something happened that I don’t think many (if any) KHA members outside the committee were aware of - the KHA Newsletter No 120 was first printed in Wagga.
Because I lived in Wagga I was unable to attend committee meetings as they were held in Canberra, during the week, and at night. However, for some reason or other, the then President Mark Cleghorn, scheduled a committee meeting for a Saturday and of course I was able to attend and consequently went along armed with quotes, suggestions, etc for a much improved newsletter. With three quotes in hand (one from Canberra (Lowes Printer) and two from Wagga) it was at this meeting that I sought approval to have the newsletter printed in Wagga. The two printers in Wagga were half the quoted price of KHA’s current printer in Canberra (Lowes). Not only were they cheaper but I had ready access to both and the newsletter could be delivered by hand via a disc or a USB to be instantly downloaded onto the printer’s computer. Quick Print was chosen, not only because their quote was the cheapest, but they were also a well-recognised and reputable printer in Wagga. In fact not only in Wagga, they also had a great number of customers from Canberra who preferred to send their printing jobs to Quick Print in Wagga. They also kept up with the newer and ever-changing technology, which I found Lowes Printer in Canberra were very slow to embrace.
After two editions, Mick Logan the printer suggested the newsletter try some colour. Mick would see all those great photos in colour and it was such a shame to put them back to black and white, particularly for the covers. With a small increase in the printing cost, the Summer 2003/04 Edition, No 122, came off the printing press with a glossy coloured front cover. Members were delighted.
The newsletter continued to evolve over time and not only in its appearance but the packaging for posting was improved with members receiving their newsletter flat in a clear envelope instead of rolled up. Labels though were still a problem. These were printed in Canberra and mailed to me. One batch I received, over half the labels were printed on the back of the label sheets. It was time to re-think a better system for labelling.
I put my ideas to the committee for improvements. I setup a separate mailing cover sheet, transferring the required Australia Post information over from the back of the newsletter. Labels continued to be printed for some time and adhered to the sheets manually but eventually the system improved even further with the printer receiving the membership names and addresses digitally which were then printed directly onto the cover sheets.
I gave up the position of newsletter editor in mid-2006 passing the job to Lyn Sebo and then over the past three years, Barbara Fay has been editor. [Pauline Downing is the current Newsletter editor ~2017 webmaster]
After I became President, I identified areas where sub-committees would be beneficial and one of these is the Editorial and Publicity Sub-Committee. Putting in place this sub-committee and asking non-committee members to volunteer, Barbara Fay secured assistance from Pauline Downing as assistant to the Editor. The packaging of the newsletter went back to Wagga with Helen Wood and the bushwalking group Wagga Wilderness Walkers (Witses Hut caretakers) collecting the newsletters from the printer, and coordinating the quarterly packaging and mail out.
One last thing - at various times over the years there has been mention “do we need such a newsletter?” Olaf Moon was always keen to abandon the newsletter particularly after the website was setup. Maybe in years to come this will happen but a great number of KHA members would be saddened (or even angry) not to receive their regular quarterly newsletter.
29th March 2013