Ritchie’s Hut Overnighter

‘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

Snow on the Bluff


The Bluff, Victorian High Country

Pulling back the curtains we were surprised by a rather sunny warm day in late August, which was a welcomed sight. A decision was made to head to the Victorian High Country for a quick overnighter as the previous months of camping were non existence due to weather and other commitments. By the time we tidied up from a hearty cooked breakfast and packed up Bones (a 1993 Toyota Hilux who you will get to know) the clock was reading 11am. Not our best efforts time wise but with the warm sunshine upon us we didn’t mind.

Arriving in Mansfield in the afternoon, a bite to eat and a quick catch up with a friend who gave us some local knowledge on track conditions and places to camp and we were off. After grabbing some diesel additive as overnight temps were heading towards -5° we started heading east towards Mt Buller.

Turning South onto Howqua Track around 4pm the golden sun contrasting against the cloudless blue sky we realized we had limited light left. Wanting to reach our desired destination of refrigerator gap by dusk we had to get moving! Driving along beside the Howqua river at the end of a magnificent sunny day was a treat and still being winter there were very few other vehicles to be seen.

P1000255Heading East onto Bluff Link track we started seeing signs of snowfall on the track and dotted along the banks. The more we climbed the more snow we saw, upon reaching our campsite we were greeted by a reasonable covering of snow on the ground. It was by no means heavy but considering it was our first time camping in the snow it was the perfect amount. Camp setup was quick as darkness was approaching, after getting a fire going we settled in for the evening adding many layers as the night wore on and the temperature fell.

Clear blue skies and crisp air greeted us in the morning, getting out of the swag was a shock to the system. The reason we chose to camp at refrigerator gap was so we could pack up camp and be at the Bluff Walking trail with minimal driving. Some tea and warm porridge were made before packing up partially frozen gear with numb hands and driving to the base of the Bluff.


The 1.5km hike to the Bluff was amazing. I had climbed the other side previously during summer but this was a totally different experience. The entire side of the Bluff had about a foot of snow covering it, sometimes more. There were small rivers of melting ice, icicles hanging from rocks and views of the high country getting grander as we climbed. Lucky for us there were some tracks from previous hikers who had compacted the ground and meant using my GPS for the most part wasn’t necessary. As we approached the summit we noticed the clouds were speeding past and soon we were surrounded in fog and a bitter wind was whipping around us. At the summit our views were partially blocked from the approaching weather and the wind made it a little uncomfortable, but we still took a moment to look around and take it in, as it was truly spectacular. There are some breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. I thought we should start to head down incase the weather really turned and with some careful footing we were soon back at the vehicle and the sun had returned.


Some lunch was had before we started making our way home. This was a great one night away, a simple trip that didn’t require to much planning, a little luck with the weather and we had a nice break from the daily grind.