Reedy Creek Chasm, VIC

Summary: A tough, off-track hike in very remote country but well worth it for the walk through Reedy Creek, the chasm itself and the sense of solitude.

Location: 22km NW of Gelantipy, VIC

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Hard

Timing: April 2012 (Easter Weekend)

Map:

I choose to do this hike solo as a testing ground for some new lightweight kit and I was fairly sure that no-one else would be up for the challenge.  I was going to have to be flexible and pick the right opportunity as well and didn’t want to muck people around with dates, timing etc…

I approached the start of the hike using the fire trails on my mountain bike but it was clear early on that they had not been maintained or used for a very long time. Some attempts at clearing the huge amount of fallen timber had been made by four wheel drivers but it soon petered out. The track was well over grown with regenerating wattles and snow gums. A clue to why the track was named as it was, evidence of brumbys was everywhere. While the the Brumby Point track was thick and overgrown the horses had maintained a clear footpad just wide enough to ride my trusty two wheeled steed…. for a while.

As the main fire trail falls away from the ridge the post fire regrowth is thick and it became necessary to push the bike, until even that became impossible, at which time I ditched it on the side of the track to pick up in a day or two.

Daylight was getting away and I knew that walking the chasm itself was going to be a massive day and I didn’t want to start the descent to Reedy Creek until the following day. I set up camp on some cleared ground on the main ridge with spectacular views across narrow valleys to the north and south. The site was a little exposed but my new UL sil-nylon tarp did the job in blocking the worst of it.

The following day it was down to business. An early start was needed. I followed Brumby Point track right to the end of the main ridge where it abruptly stopped and the terrain steepened. Heading east I picked a path through to a rocky outcrop, squeezing through the thick fire regrowth.  I was not looking forward to the return trip uphill through that same scrub. Although there were areas of open ground with exposed rock and very little vegetation that broke up the thick vegetation.

I was soon onto a small rocky outcrop with some quick scrambling and loving the UL kit. Previously I would have toiled with a massive heavy pack. It was a clear day and the view was awesome towards the north and rocky cliffs bordering the next gully over to the west.

Rocky Crags to the west

I was headed for a small saddle to the north and thought this would be a quick trip down but it required careful foot placement on the loose scree that littered the northern slope. Some easy scrambling down some small rock faces was also required. Easy enough.

It was during this descent that the solo nature this hike hit home. I’m out here alone, far from anyone, no phone reception or EPIRB. One wrong move and it was going to be a long while before I was found. I had left detailed instructions of my route with my trusting partner at home but the alarm wouldn’t go up for at least another 24-36 hours. The biggest danger was a sprained or broken ankle on the loose rocks. But I knew what I was doing and trusted my experience. Going slow was the order of the day.

No problems. I reached the saddle. A short break for some MM’s and it was down towards Reedy Creek. The terrain down to the creek was really steep and I found a short dry gully that made progress a little easier. Rather than having to side step down the hill and steady against vegetation, the creek provided stabler ground. Although dry there was evidence of flash flooding in the gully with large boulders and tree branches pushed down.

Soon enough I hit the junction of Reedy Creek. I needed a water top up and what better source. The water was sweet and refreshing.  Perfect for a hot day. The track for the next 1.5 km or so was in the middle of Reedy Creek itself, heading easterly.

Reedy Creek

The banks are thick with vegetation and steep. I could not imagine trying to keep your boots dry by walking along the banks. Just jump in the water people.

Although it was a hot day the water was freezing but being a deep and shaded gully with snow melt what else would you expect. This was the only path for the next bit so it was put up or shut up. It didn’t take long for the numbness to set in and the pain to dissipate. I relished the few pockets of small sun soaked beaches and had to jump out several times to get the blood flowing through the legs.

Reedy Creek itself is a shallow creek mostly below the knee but there are numerous deeper pools above the knee and several waist deep. Again the light pack weight was a bonus. The stream bed is rocky but easily navigable. Keep your boots on. There was evidence of heavy rains from the previous month as well with several large log jams that had to be climbed over.

Chasm walls

Soon enough Reedy Creek swung north and the chasm presented itself with the 100m walls appearing on the horizon and rising above the creek. This was what I had come to see and it didn’t disappoint. Through the chasm the Reedy Creek narrows, the flow becomes a little faster and the pools within it  deepen. The only way out was through the chasm and out the other side. It would be possible to back track up the creek but you would be fighting the flow and it would be difficult.

The deepest pool right in the middle of the chasm required a full swim and pack float to negotiate.

The rock walls tower above and shade the creek creating a cool micro climate, perfect for ferns that cling delicately to the rocks. In a couple of places you can literally reach out and touch both walls with your hands.

Reedy Creek Chasm

But it was short lived. A really hard walk to explore a chasm that unfortunately is not that long – only several hundred metres. The walls soon disappear and the creek banks abruptly return. I’m through. But only half way.

There are several routes out of the chasm and I’ve heard of others heading north to Reedy Track and Forlorn Hope Road and then doing a long road slog back to an awaiting car. Without the luxury of a car shuffle and with a mountain bike to pick up I’d chosen to continue along Reedy Creek to the Farquhar Creek  junction, hiking back up a steep ridge line to the rocky outcrop I’d crossed in the morning.

The exit

I continued to the creek junction and found a large boulder in the sun. A perfect rest stop to have some lunch and dry out. While eating the compulsory salami, cheese and crackers a large sambar deer approached the creek for a drink around 30m from my boulder. I was up wind and sat very still. It didn’t see me for several minutes and continued drinking. It was only when it commenced walking down the stream and its was within 15m or so from me that we locked eyes. It took off in a flash onto the northern bank and was gone. What a way to top the day.

The walk out following the ridge line south was tough. I don’t know why I bothered to dry out. I was drenched with sweat in the full sun very quickly and a creek soaked shirt would have been great. I would only recommend this route for the fit and experienced. But I reckon it was still going to be shorter than the route I knew others had used and I imagine that every walk out of Reedy Creek would be just as tough.

I took several hours to reach the top of the spur, follow the ridge through to a saddle and get to the rocky out crop for the 2nd time that day. Another hour back tracking my route from the morning and I was back out onto Brumby Point Track. But day light was fast getting away and I was unlikley to reach my bike or get back to the car in the light. So there was nothing for it other than to set up camp again and head out the next day.

The walk/ride back out to the car was uneventful by the sheer elation of having achieved what I consider to be one of the hardest hikes in Victoria was awesome. I don’t think I walked/rode back I think I flew.

Note: These current photos just don’t do this hike justice.

2 Responses to Reedy Creek Chasm, VIC

  1. Pete Lorocco says:

    Mate i should congratulate you on a brilliant effort! My only complaint is that there are no photos of Reedy Creek Chasm! i was last there 20 years ago, exactly by the route you used, and am pining to get back in and take some photos. I am a pro photographer and web developer, absolutely every bit as keen on getting into the bush as I was when I was ounger. have just done the Larapinta trail in the NT, that was a blast.

    My MRS is almost at a 100% “Yes” for Reedy Creek, that’s good enough for me.

    You have convinced me not to carry my computer in, on account of the swim, however I just bought a small camera especially for trips like this, and wouldn’t dare go without it.

    Much Obliged

    Pete

  2. Thanks very much for posting those images Mick! Loved them. I think that one of the better pictorial aspects of the Chasm, is that shot you took looking back at the exit. I am thinking to try and get there before Christmas this year- have got a week off in December. Most of the wedding photography for the season will be behind me, and there would be not a lot for me to do as all albums would be in production for Christmas.

    A lot of the success of a photo trip to this area is determined by the water level in the creek. My first trip there was via the route you took. I was thinking to go via Forlorn Hope this time, though swimming upstream would be tricky, with full kit.

    At least going downstream you can hold the pack above your head, and bounce along with the current for that section which is too deep to swim.

    Whichever way, it will be interesting.

    Cheers

    Pete

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