The Stringers Knob Fire Spotting Tower was largely destroyed by the Black Summer fires of 2019-20.
Heritage Victoria is working closely with DELWP’s Forest, Fire and Regions Snowy District team to conserve the remnants and tell the story of this important place.
Built in 1941, the tower was a direct response to the Black Friday fires of 1939. The design of the tower was unique: two poles of yellow stringybark and red iron bark bolted together, with a cabin measuring 2.5m2 perched on top. This experimental design and unusual construction technique contributed to the cultural heritage significance of the place.
The fire-spotter had to climb straight up on iron rods, with opportunities to pause at two resting platforms on the way up. The fire-spotters were required to spend the week at the tower alone, sleeping in a tin shed at the foot of the tower, and spending the rest of the time in the small wooden cabin atop the pole. Spotters radioed through sightings of suspect smoke.
The site has not been used as a fire tower since the 1960s. Prior to the Black Summer bushfires it was used as a recreational site and frequented by 4WDers, who made use of the picnic facilities at the foot of the unique tower.
Given the extent of the damage and the difficulty in maintaining the cabin structure prior to the fire, Heritage Victoria’s Bushfire Recovery Program is not recommending the site be rebuilt. Picnic facilities on site have already been reinstated by the Snowy District team.
The sections of the pole that remain on site, however, are evocative of the history of the tower. The iron rods that served as a ladder seem flimsy by 21st century health and safety standards and speak to the life of the fire-spotter, who was employed to climb up a large pole and sit in a tower on an isolated hill to keep watch over the landscape. The setting of the tower is integral to its use and significance, and the charred remains tell a poignant story that warrants being told into the future.
Heritage Victoria, in partnership with the Snowy District team, is about to begin conservation of the remnant pieces of pole. In addition, the heritage interpretation material on site will be updated to include a reflection on the Black Summer fires.
Page last updated: 23/02/21