Firefighting resources are being positioned to help protect one of the Orroral Valley's most treasured heritage buildings as the bushfire in the area marches eastward.
The Orroral Valley homestead dates back to the mid-1860s and has been the subject of lengthy preservation efforts by volunteers and the ACT Parks and Conservation Service.
Pictures posted to social media on Wednesday afternoon by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development directorate provide visual confirmation of the fire threat to the homestead.
The directorate reported that aerial water drops, bare earth lines, the installation of portable water sources, activating hoses and drip systems, plus removing flammable wooden infrastructure were all part of the preparations underway as the firefront approached.
Check out this shot of a VLAT working against the odds to save the historic Orroral Valley Homestead from yesterday’s #orroralvalleyfire in Namadgi National Park. Great work by Park Rangers and ESA staff who built defensive lines to save it. #CanberraFires#Canberrapic.twitter.com/pbjUuvmzZk— Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue) January 29, 2020
The heritage-listed homestead is in the base of the valley and is surrounded by a cleared area, as is the corrugated iron woolshed and surrounding stockyards built in the 1920s.
Much more vulnerable to fire because of its location is the Orroral Geodetic Observatory, built in 1974 which once served to provide Australia with its official timing and was the subject of an extensive historical treatise by Canberra's own Tim The Yowie Man.
The observatory is a brick and steel structure which provides a level of protection but its location high on a ridge surrounded by bushland could place it directly in harm's way.
The president of the Kosciuszko Huts Association, Clive Richardson, said that structures on elevated sites as the firefront approached would be of concern given the devastation wrought on the Stromlo Observatory at the height of the 2003 bushfires which swept into Canberra.
"I know the ACT Parks people will be doing all they can to protect the homestead and the heritage buildings but the observatory is in a location which makes it difficult to defend," Mr Richardson said.
"The homestead is in the bottom of the valley next to the river and has cleared area around it so that gives us some hope that it will survive."
Constructed of masonry and mud mortar with timber slab walls, the homestead was built in the late 1860s by pastoralist Archibald McKeahnie and his father, Charles and is the oldest remaining structure of several which once surrounded it in the valley,
The 6500-acre Orroral Run, as it became known, was owned by many of the well known families of the area and often by different members of the same family.