Bushfires and closed tracks are bad for business

Conservation Hut: Owner and head chef Kerry Mulford outside the hut.
Conservation Hut: Owner and head chef Kerry Mulford outside the hut.

Like many businesses around the Jamison Valley, Kerry Mulford at the Conservation Hut is struggling.

With all the nearby bushwalks closed because of the Ruined Castle fire, Ms Mulford is having to cut back the hours of her casual staff and reduce orders to local suppliers.

But she's not giving up on the beautiful hut and its million-dollar views. Ms Mulford has done a complete makeover of her menu, abandoning the separate breakfast and lunch sittings with all-day offerings.

"So if you want soup at breakfast time, you can have it, and if you want muesli last thing in the day, that's fine too," she said.

She also has music on three Sundays a month: The Blue Mountains String Quartet on the first Sunday (though not in January because of holidays), jazz quartet JBQ on the second, and Django Reinhardt-style jazz with the Hot Club on the third.

The Conservation Hut lies at the centre of some of the Mountains best scenic walks, including the Valley of the Waters and the Overcliff tracks. But it has taken a hammering with the recent closure of all the walks because of bushfire.

The battle actually extends back two years to when the extremely popular National Pass was closed down in the wake of the tragic rock fall which killed David Gliddon as he worked to make the walk safe.

Ms Mulford estimates she lost 40 per cent of her business after that closure.

But she is convinced that once word spreads that in fact the whole Mountains is not alight, business will return, particularly with the attraction of the ever-changing light in the valley outside.

Since the 1960s, the hut has been a rest stop for walkers, either fuelling up before setting off or rewarding a long walk with a hearty meal afterwards.

But even if the tracks are closed, said Ms Mulford, "forget the walk - just come and eat!"

The Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls is open seven days a week, from 10am-4pm weekdays and from 9.30am-4pm on weekends. Entry via Fletcher Road.