the door of Old Pelion Hut is a grey faded board fixed to the end wall
on which the name ‘Emhlangana’ is carved. It has evidently been there
for a long time. Over the years a number of people have asked me about
it. My knowledge was very limited. All I knew was that when geologist
Ken Burns did a survey of the Pelion copper mine in March 1958 he
referred to Old Pelion Hut as Ehmlangana in his report (see KL Burns
Preliminary Survey, Pelion Copper Mines, Tasmanian Mines Technical Report No 3, Hobart, 1958, pp. 34–36).
Recently, I learnt more. Fiona Rice, interpretation officer with the
Parks and Wildlife Service was intrigued by it and with Steve Billingham
of the Office of the Nomenclature Board, came close to solving the
mystery. The found that the name is of Zulu origin and historically
referred to both a place and a people in South Africa. There is
currently a school, Ehmlangana Primary School, for example, northwest of
Then they found a newspaper account that indicated that the Wooton
family residence at the Nook, near Sheffield was called ‘Emhlangana’.
Checking the Wooton family on ancestry.com, revealed a Mary Wooton born
in Natal in South Africa in 1864 and who died in Lorinna in 1933. With
this the pieces of the puzzle started to come together suggesting that
members of the Wooton family of Sheffield once lived in South Africa and
that, after migrating to Tasmania, named their home after a place in
How then did the name come to be applied to Old Pelion Hut and when?
There are a couple of possibilities. Mary Wooton married Daniel
Wyllie in 1895. In his PhD thesis historian Tim Jetson reports that he
interviewed one of their sons, Andrew (born 1898) in 1980. Andrew Wyllie
(and his father Dan Wyllie) was involved in sheep and cattle grazing on
Pelion Plains in the 1930s when Cox and Day held a grazing lease over
the area. Interestingly, these men would routinely stay in Old Pelion
when at the plains. Maybe it was Andrew or Dan Wyllie who named the hut?
The other opportunity is suggested by the name ‘LT Wooton 1941’,
written on one of the inside walls of Old Pelion. That this may be the
more likely option is suggested by the fact that Jetson also interviewed
Laurie Wooton in 1980 and from him, apparently, came the information
that Ehmlangana is Zulu for ‘meeting’ or ‘joining’.
When was it named? A search through the Old Pelion Hut logbook by Nic
Haygarth suggests that it happened well before 1958 when Burns noticed
it. There is an entry dated 12 January 1944 that reads: ‘ "Emhlangana".
Expectation was not better than realization. But why is there nothing
wrong with "Emhlangana"? Windermere has a troop of possums, Narcissus
smokey chimneys etc, but "Emhlangana" nothing! ...'
Any additional information would be welcome.
Walters' Hut above Trappers
In January, David, a subscriber to this blog, and I had a brief
exchange about a structure that once stood in the little wet lead above
the Trappers Hut.
This structure was a cattleman’s hut built by Vin Walters and members
of his extended family in the 1930s. The Walters family of Mole Creek
took up land at Walters Marsh and the Horse Plain (now under Lake
Rowallan) in a process that began with William Walters in 1877. By the
mid 1920s the family, then in its third generation, owned nearly 400
acres there. In 1934 Vin Walters took up extra country in the form of a
couple of grazing leases in the Walls of Jerusalem and on the Lake
Adelaide Plain. He put cattle up there, beginning with an agisted herd
of dairy cows, on and off until the Second World War. They built a rough
hut at the top of the track to provide a bit of shelter when they were
checking the stock. It was a decent sized structure with a gable roof,
clad in corrugated iron, but was never finished. In the photograph I
have of it, taken at Christmas 1938 (see below), part of one wall is
covered by an old tarpaulin.
In 1946, when the Trappers Hut was being built, the corrugated iron
on the building was removed to roof the Trappers Hut. All that remains
today of the Walters’ hut is a pile of stones responding to the location
of the fireplace and a couple of corner posts.