I have always been a fan of travelling somewhere that makes you feel so far removed from the norm, and that is something I found in the quaint historic town of Walhalla. Located just 2.5 hours drive from Melbourne’s CBD in the Gippsland Region, this small town will have you wanting to stay longer than a weekend getaway.
Located in the region of Gippsland, Walhalla is a reconstructed Colonial Era Gold Mining town. It may be small with now less than 20 permanent residents living in Walhalla, but in its glory days, it was once heralded as one of the richest towns in Victoria with a population over 4,800 people.
I enjoyed just strolling through town and looking at the old shops that look like a colonial town of the past. I could have spent hours in the old post office which has some unique history. An absolute must stop for the sweet tooths like me is at the old fashion lolly which sells the old fashioned boiled lollies like humbugs and rock candy.
So what did I do with myself in Walhalla? First of all, it was to park the car and check into my accommodation for the night – the Walhalla’s Star Hotel. Now there are other places to stay in the area but you can’t go past this property for a number of reasons.
First of all, there is an adorable client services manager with golden fur, four legs and big brown eyes named Tilly. She is always ready for pats and if you are lucky, you can even take her for a walk. Anywhere that has a dog is a winner for me. They also let your pets stay (only for the well-behaved dogs though).
The next reason is the incredible food. Dining here with views across the main street of town is second to none. The hotel has an a la carte restaurant, pre-booking is required, which serves quality country-style meals and a comfortable guest lounge where you can unwind with a book on a leather chesterfield. I was feeling chilled still from my day of adventuring and ordered the pot pie – it was to die for, especially when washed down with some nice red wine.
Walhalla’s Star Hotel provides country accommodation in 12 stylish large suites in the heart of the township. This boutique accommodation hotel offers a quiet, relaxed atmosphere with owners that are so welcoming and happy to help with ideas planning your day exploring the town.
Out and about in Walhalla
The first stop on my exploration of this town had me wearing a hard hat and going deep into the history (and deep underground). On the Walhalla Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine tour, I learnt about the tough lives of miners as I explored deep underground with a guided tour. The tour takes visitors 150 metres below the surface and 300 metres into the hillside to the huge underground machinery chamber hewn from the solid rock over a century ago as they discover how this became one of the world’s richest gold mines. The mine commenced operation in 1865 and over its 50-year history, it produced 440,312 troy ounces of gold or 13,695 kilograms. It was the top producing gold mine for six of those 50 years.
Tours operate daily and take 45-50 minutes. They are wheelchair and stroller friendly, plus there is a free museum and blacksmiths shed.
Next up was a ride on the historic Goldfields Railway. I have always been fascinated by trains as a means to travel so stepping on the iconic Walhalla Goldfields Railway was a treat. The journey begins at the Walhalla Heritage Precinct and travels through the station yard which lies between Stringers Creek and the cliff-face that underpins the Brunton’s Bridge Road. Leaving the carriage sheds behind the train chugs along trestle bridges as it winds its way downhill, passing through Happy Creek and follows Stringers Creek to where it joins the Thomson River. It is here you travel across the historic and spectacular Thomson River Bridge to arrive at Thomson Station where you will have time to explore the area before returning to Walhalla.
The next morning I took a stroll along the tramline. As you follow an old timber tramline along the contours of the Valley of the Gods, you will find flora, fauna, historic gold mines and great views of Walhalla. I recommend doing this walk in the early morning for magical misty views as the clouds lift and the sun warms up the town.
Oh and I didn’t get to do it but you can spook yourself on the night ghost tour. Join a paranormal experience at night on the Walhalla Ghost Tour, hearing the many terrible tales of past souls from this isolated goldfield region. Held in the historic township which is very proud of its long-forgotten history, this tour is filled with bizarre, mysterious and often tragic stories. Along the way, you will be given an opportunity to uncover the hidden secrets of Walhalla. Seeing how old and historic this town is, I am not surprised that there are a few ghosts hanging about. Even just walking around town at night, and up to the old cemetery on the hill, left me with a spinetingling sensation that had me looking over my shoulder.
Walhalla in pictures
For more on Walhalla visit visitwalhalla.com, or read some of my published work below.