Walkers to Frenchmans Cap are set to enjoy a new energy efficient hut at Lake Tahune thanks to the ongoing generosity of businessman Dick Smith.

Eight years ago, Mr Smith agreed to fund an upgrade of the Frenchmans Cap Track after he and his wife Pip walked the track for their 40th wedding anniversary. They were concerned at the degraded state of the track, describing it as looking ‘as if 100 feral pigs had gone mad’. Since then he has donated $100,000 each year to the Wildcare Gift Fund for track works, with the Tasmanian Government contributing $50,000 per year.

With the track upgrade largely complete, attention has turned to replacing the 45 year old hut at Lake Tahune, in the shadow of Frenchmans Cap. Mr Smith’s donation of $100,000 this year brings his total contribution to $900,000. This year’s and next year’s donation will help fund the estimated $300,000 project to remove the old hut and construct a new hut on the existing footprint.

The new hut, designed by Green Design Architects, will provide sleeping space for up to 24 walkers, with a ranger’s room, secure storage, a porch for wet gear and a large deck. Tent platforms will be erected nearby the hut for those, like Mr Smith, who prefer the privacy of a tent for sleeping.

Parks and Wildlife Service general manager Peter Mooney said the hut would be much more environmentally friendly.

“It will have triple-glazed windows, solar panels for lighting and a mini hydro system to assist with heating,” Mr Mooney said. “With significant insulation and a modern ventilation system, it will be much more comfortable for walkers.”

Mr and Mrs Smith are planning to return to Frenchmans Cap for their 50th anniversary walk, and are looking forward to introducing their grandchildren to Frenchmans Cap.

“I’ve heard the track has been very well done, and we have had lots of letters from people thanking us for making the upgrade possible,” Mr Smith said.