Historic site undergoing upgrade

Historic site undergoing upgrade

The iconic Stringers Knob Fire Tower near Bete Bolong will receive an upgrade after it was obliterated during the summer’s bushfires.

Forest Fire Management Victoria, in partnership with Heritage Victoria, are working towards the restoration of the barbecue and picnic facilities at the site.

Planning is also underway for the installation of new information boards at the site, which detail the historic significance of the area after Forest Fire Management crews and Heritage Victoria personnel conducted an onsite assessment last month.

“To lose the Stringers Knob Fire Spotting Tower earlier this year, as part of the fires that ravaged East Gippsland, was devastating,” DELWP regional bushfire recovery manager, Peter West, said.

“We’re working closely with Heritage Victoria to plan the construction of new barbecue and picnic facilities, and importantly, to install new information boards that tell the story of what was such a progressive facility for its time,” Mr West said.

“By restoring the communal facilities, we hope that visitors will still be able to enjoy what was a popular picnic spot for tourists at a historically significant site in East Gippsland.”

Located on Monument Track at Bete Belong North, the Stringers Knob Fire Spotting Tower was constructed in 1941 following the Black Friday bushfires in 1939, using what was at the time, an innovative design comprising of a spotter’s cabin perched atop a single 28-metre pole.

The tower, which paved the way for helping to improve bushfire safety in Victoria, provided an unrestricted, 360-degree view of the surrounding forested area, allowing for the early detection of bushfires up to 40 kilometres away. It remained in use until the late 1960s.

The tower and surrounding land were listed as part of the Victorian Heritage Register for its historic and scientific significance because of its experimental design, unique cotion technique and contribution the tower made towards improving fire awareness and safety in Victoria.

Local historian, Carrol Preston, said it was a “tragedy” to lose the tower, along with other historic landmarks, back in January.

“You can’t wind back the clock and do things differently. Once it’s done it’s done,” she said.

“It is a tragedy that these pieces of history have been damaged or lost completely. The Nowa Nowa Fire Tower was also lost. The Mount Raymond one was lost in 1980. “They’re just casualties of fire.

“These historic structures should be protected at the start of a fire threat, if not at the start of the fire season.”

IMAGE: The Stringers Knob Fire Tower site will receive an upgrade after it was destroyed in the summer’s bushfires. INSET: the tower in its original condition. (Photo: Forests Commision Retired Personnel Association)