‘My reason for building this hut is for the purpose of fishing.’ Bob Ritchie 1947
Ritchie’s Hut is a perfect introduction to overnight hiking or can be completed in a day walk, 6km one way or a 12km return. It is a beautiful walk situated in the Alpine National Park, which follows the Howqua River. The walk begins from 7 or 8 mile flat camping area, about 49km from Mansfield. There is a high and low track. The low track contains approximately 14 river crossings and dependant on the weather is sometimes impassable.
Ritchie’s Hut is located at the junction of 14 mile creek and the Howqua River. The original hut was built in the 1940’s by the Ritchie family and Fred Fry but was destroyed by the 2006/2007 Great Divide fires. The hut was rebuilt in 2008/2009. The hut has a large fireplace with a table and benches to roll out a sleeping bag, or there is plenty of room outside to pitch a tent.
Our hike began from 7 mile camp. We chose to walk in on the high track and out on the low track. Our reasoning was that way we would not have the possibility of having wet footwear at the start of the second day. It took us 2.5 – 3 hours to get to the hut. We left our vehicle at 1pm and it was a 30-degree day so it was rather warm. We only carried 1L of water and a Sawyer filter as you are close to the river, although on the high track you don’t have access to the Howqua there are a couple of feeder creeks making there way down which were perfect spots to top up containers. The upper track is a combination of grassy slopes and cool tree covered gullies, which can be a nice relief from the intense sun on a hot day.
Arriving at the hut we set up camp and headed down to the river for a swim, the Howqua is fed by alpine streams and melting snow so it is always fresh even on a hot summers day.
Leaving in the morning we followed the signs for the low track and got our feet wet. This track took us a little longer with all the crossings but when you are somewhere as beautiful as here why rush. Depending how brave you are there are multiple water holes to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Howqua on the way out.
Ritchie’s Hut is an amazing place to visit. We were lucky enough to have had the hut to ourselves on both occasions we have visited.
Thanks for reading, Mat