Built by a reclusive cattle farmer, this timber slab hut in the headlands of Crowdy Bay National Park served as a writer’s retreat for the Australian author Kathleen “Kylie” Tennant.
During World War II, Tennant and her husband Lewis Rodd moved to Laurieton, a small town on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. There she befriended Ernie Metcalfe, a cattle farmer and fisherman who built the hut for her to write in. The surrounding landscape became the setting for her 1971 novel The Man on the Headland, and Ernie Metcalfe its main character.
Tennant often wrote about social issues and used her novels to educate readers about poverty, disadvantage, and inequality. She was something of a “method” author, known for her unorthodox research practices. She moved into the slums of Redfern to research her novel Foveaux, lived on the streets for her novel The Battlers, and spent a week in jail to research The Joyful Condemned.
In 1976, Tennant donated the hut and surrounding land to Crowdy Bay National Park. Several nearby landmarks also bear Tennant’s name: A path behind the hut leads to Kylie’s Beach, an isolated stretch of the coastline popular for surfing and fishing, and on the Diamond Head hiking loop, Kylie’s Lookout offers panoramic views of the beaches, cliffs, and deep forests.
Know Before You Go
The beaches of Crowdy Head and Diamond Head, together with the hut and its history make for a fantastic stop off driving the New South Wales north coast.
Entering Crowdy Bay National Park costs $8 AUD per vehicle. Visitors can go inside Kylie's hut or camp at the nearby campground (but not inside the hut). Campsites are available on a first-come first-served basis and cost $12 AUD per night for adults and $6 AUD per night for children.