Nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range 46 km north of Moe, the former goldmining town of Walhalla appears to have been snap frozen in time. Many of its original buildings remain.

Location: north of the Latrobe Valley and nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range 46 km north of Moe; 176 km east of Melbourne

Walhalla is located in the Great Dividing Range, in the steep Stringers Creek valley, approximately 4 km upstream of the creek’s junction with the Thomson River. The area around the town is designated as an historic area which then adjoins the Baw Baw National Park.

Brief history: the European history of the district began iIn December 1862 a prospector, Ned Stringer, found gold in the creek which bears his name. Shortly afterwards the discovery of the massive Cohen’s Reef, which stretches from Bass Strait to Bathurst, led to the permanent settlement of the town. During the 1880s Walhalla was one of the state’s richest goldfields. The Long Tunnel Extended Mine, which operated from 1871 until 1911, yielded 815,568 ounces of gold and paid dividends of $2.5 million.

At its peak Walhalla was home to around 2,500 residents. Today, the town has a population of fewer than 20 permanent residents, though it has a large proportion of houses owned as weekenders. It attracts large numbers of tourists and is a major focus of the regional tourism industry. The town’s name is taken from an early gold mine in the area, named for the German hall of fame, the Walhalla temple (Valhalla from Norse legend).

Gold mining was already becoming largely unprofitable in the early 20th century and the last of the major mines closed in 1914. With the disappearance of the main industry in town, the bulk of the population soon left. Until the growth of the tourist industry in the 1970s and 80s, Walhalla survived as a ghost town for most of the twentieth century.

Several major public buildings including the Mechanics Institute and Star Hotel were destroyed in two fire events in 1944 and 1951 and a number of buildings were destroyed without being rebuilt. The school closed in 1965 and further fires, floods and neglect slowly chipped away at the remains of the town.

Since around 1977, Walhalla has experienced something of a renaissance with a booming tourist industry and the restoration or reconstruction of numerous historical buildings in the town, including the Star Hotel, Mechanics Institute, Windsor House, Elliott’s Bakery and reconstruction of the Thomson–Walhalla section of the former narrow-gauge railway.

Origin of name: Believed to be the Aboriginal name for the locality. It was first named Stringer’s Creek in 1862 when gold was first discovered here, after the first gold prospector.

Things To See and Do

Walhalla Conservation Area: much has been preserved of this pioneer mining community that was once home to 4,500 people. Many of its original buildings remain. These include the fire engine shed, museum, post office, Windsor House, Mechanics Institute, bank vault, former Wesleyan Church, Freemason’s Lodge, St John’s Church of England and, possibly the most photographed thing in Walhalla, the grand old band rotunda and Brunton’s Bridge.

Bridges Walk: Follow the river upstream from the Walhalla side of the Thomson Bridge to the Steel Bridge. The bridge affords long views upstream toward the junction of the Aberfeldy River. Very pleasant walk, easy and of short duration. Return to the Thomson Bridge via the Fingerboard Spur Track along the opposite side of the river. Grade: Medium. Distance: 4.8 km. Time: Approx 90 min.

Thomson River walk: Begins at the Thomson River Bridge, 4 km before the Walhalla Township. The Walhalla district offers much of historical and scenic interest to walkers. The Thomson River is in view for much of the distance and the walking is easy and virtually flat. Forest, ferns and steep mountainsides, plus lyrebirds are some of the attractions, along with the Poverty Point Steel Bridge, which is classified by the National Trust. Grade: Easy. Distance: 8 km. Time: Approx 3.25 hours.

Horseeshoe Bend Tunnel: This walk can be accessed from the Cooper’s Creek turnoff or Thomson Bridge on the Walhalla Rd. The distance is about the same. Follow the old railway line, to the track turnoff. The track runs down to the Thomson River and ends at the river diversion named the Horseshoe Tunnel. You can walk around the dry riverbed for 1km if you want to see the other side. This diversion was created to access the riverbed, which was used for gold extraction. In the late 1800’s miners looking for gold, decided to mine one of the river bends. To do this they dug this tunnel with picks and shovels through the rock from one side of a hill to another, diverting the whole river. Grade: Steep. Distance: 600m. Time: 30 min

Pig Point: offers spectacular views of Walhalla following the Old Coach Road. Starting at Walhalla Museum the track climbs up past the church, hospital and rear of the cemetery to reach the Maiden Town Track. Turn right and walk through the bush along the road to Brunton’s Bridge Road before the steep descent to the Walhalla station and wander through Walhalla to return to the Museum.

Surrounding Area

Stringers Creek: part of the Australian Alps Walking Track, this track follows an old tramway above the town, commencing at North Gardens Camping Ground. Leading south along the western side of Stringers Creek, this tramway provides a bird’s eye view of the township.

Walhalla Goldfields Tourist Railway operates between Thomson and Walhalla on 4 km of track rebuilt in the 1990s along the path of the original narrow gauge railway line yo Walhalla. The railway operates on most Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and additional days in School Holidays. The Walhalla line was the last of four experimental narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railways, the Moe-Walhalla railway commenced in 1904, but was not completed until 1910.

After the closure of the Walhalla mines, substantial timber traffic was carried from sawmills around Erica until the late 1940s. Freight and passenger traffic declined, and the final section from Moe to Erica closed on 25th June 1954. The tracks and buildings were removed by 1960, leaving only the roadbed and a number of bridges. Ph (03) 5126 4201.

Baw Baw National Park: Covering a substantial part of the Baw Baw Plateau and sections of the Thomson and Aberfeldy River valleys, Baw Baw National Park offers colourful wildflowers in early summer and open grassy plains with Snow Gum woodlands. Mount St Gwinear, Mount Erica and the Baw Baw Alpine Village are ideal bases for bushwalking. The Thomson River downstream of the Thomson Dam offers some of the best white water rafting in Victoria. Several tour companies provide rafting tours all year round.

Moondarra State Park (29 km south): known for its wildflower displays, particularly along Seninis Track where sixteen species of native orchid have been recorded. Scenic drives, bushwalks, picnicking, swimming, camping, fishing and nature study are popular activities. Some roads are suitable for bike riding. Spring is the main wildflower season and along with summer, are the most popular times to visit the park. Although, there is plenty to do all year round. A 7km section of the former Walhalla Railway is publically accessible in the Park. The trail crosses the Moondarra Resevoir Road soon after the turnoff from the main road. The trail is not formally maintained – there are no signposts and some sections are partly overgrown.

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