An Australian Hermit in 1940

An interesting, albeit frustratingly lacking in detail, article in the “Sydney Morning Herald” for 21 December 1940 gives an account of a Hermit living in the Australian alps.
australian alps
The Carefree Life of an Australian Hermit by James Valentine

The Hermit lives in a little house, which he has built for himself, of clay-stamped walls. On the top of it sits a red roof, and creepers cluster up the walls and stretch out their long green slender fingers across the top of the roof. The wind soughs in the she-oak grove which surrounds his home and the sea sounds on the feet of the cliffs beneath.

A man of Kent, the Hermit has played many parts, but now that he is beginning to look back on middle age he has put away childish things (which are the affairs of men, and, therefore, of the devil), and tends his garden (which is green and fruitful) and feeds his fowls (presided over by Peter, a sheeny black rooster, with the dignity of a Roman Senator). Once a week he walks into the nearest township for the modest supplies he does not himself produce.

After tea we sit before his great open fireplace he in his enormous home-made armchair, and watch the she-oak smoke curl blue into the chimney. If we should, as on rare occasions we do, discuss the affairs of the world, the Hermit will take a suck at his pipe, light it with a barrage of matches and pronounce judgment “Yes,” he will say, “and what’s the good of getting any older if you don’t get more sense?” Could there be more damnation in a single sentence?…

The Hermit’s acres (about one and a half) comprise, in almost all respects, a self-contained, self-supporting totalitarian State. There are Ash in the sea; his hens are conscientious; he makes mead from what must be a recipe two thousand years old; much of his furniture is home-made; and his rat-traps, complicated affairs, with cord, pulleys, a trip device, and a great block of wood, suggest the inventive genius of Heath Robinson.

His life is a round of easy tasks to keep going his vegetables, his fowls, his bees, and the corn which shoots up 14ft in the rich soil. Occasionally, should a feeling of loneliness come over him or a certain restlessness, “Well,” he says, “I just go out and do a bit of diggin’. ”

Often during evening visits to this happy demesne we play the good, old English games of darts or shoveha’penny. Never shall I forget the cry of acclamation which went up when the Hermit, representing the local talent against the “city coves.” scored a miraculous bull’s eye. It was, and ever shall be remembered as, an occasion.
australian alps 2
Although the Hermit is not identified, he may have been Charlie Carter.

“The Tin Mines are just off the Tin Mine fire trail, about 20 kilometres west of Dead Horse Gap near Thredbo. The area has been mined since 1873 for tin, and between 1935 and 1936, the Mount Pilot Tin Mining Syndicate built several huts on the site which were later abandoned by 1938.

There are currently two huts at the Tin Mines, several piles of stones and the remains of chimneys and log posts indicating the position of further structures….

One of the remaining buildings is known as the Barn, Big Hut or Workshed and it functioned as a workshed for the Mount Pilot Tin Mining Syndicate in 1935-36……

Charlie Carter spent the majority of his life in the Alps, until his death in 1953. He lived at the Tin Mines for the last 20 years of his life – as a hermit and philosopher, writing, selling horse hides and mining. He would ride by horseback into Jindabyne to sell horse hides, deliver philosophical articles to the local newspaper and buy food supplies. The cause of his death in 1953 remains a mystery. He could have starved, been struck down by an illness
or died as a result of the strange healing techniques that he self-administered.”

“Charlie was a true hermit if there ever was one. He lived a lonely life as far back in the bush as he could get. There in the Mt. Pilot area, far from any permanent neighbour. Charlie Carter became something of a legend among the Cattlemen who had grazing leases in the area of the Cobbaras Mountains and to the east on the lovely plains and alpine meadows of the Ingeegoodbee.

Eccentric as most hermits become from years of solitude, Charlie was no exception. He insisted that he had cured himself of cancer with a concoction that contained hydrochloric acid (spirits of salts), Solomon’s Solution, Blue-stone and some other more mysterious ingredient. So sure was he about this medication that he wrote to King George VI about his discovery and what’s more, received an answer!

The few human contacts for Charlie Carter occurred when walking tourists called and left. Cattlemen who all knew Charlie; kept a kindly eye on this old hermit when they came to check on their grazing runs. Or to bring the salt without which mustering or checking on cattle would be difficult to say the least. It was one of those cattlemen who found Charlie dead in his hut.

Bringing the body of those poor old hermits was one of the least pleasant duties of the volunteers and relatives who packed the body out for interment. Though there are not hermits now, I know many old men who would like to end like that.”
carters hut
Charlie Carter’s hut has been preserved:
carters hut 2

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