If you are looking for your next weekend getaway or road trip destination, look no further than the historic town of Walhalla. With its quaint township rich in gold history, you will feel like you have stepped back in time and far away from the modern world.
Just 2.5 hours drive East of Melbourne and you will find Walhalla in the region of Gippsland. Walhalla is a reconstructed Colonial Era Gold Mining town set in the hills of Gippsland. It was once heralded as one of the richest towns in Victoria. During that time the population was over 4,800 people, but there are now less than 20 permanent residents living in Walhalla.
Today, Walhalla is known for its Gold Fields Railway, Long Mine Tour and charming town history. It also has a unique cemetery perched high on the hill, and a walk around reading the headstones will give insight into just how hard colonial times could be on families.
The shops appear today to look like a colonial town of the past and the old post office has some unique history. A must stop is at the old fashion lolly which sells the old fashioned boiled lollies like humbugs and rock candy.
What to do
There really is something for everyone in Walhalla. Adventurous travellers can enjoy the great outdoors with some unique hikes through historic paths. Families will find kid-friendly experiences throughout the area and couples will enjoy escaping to the countryside for a bit of romance and seclusion. History buffs and those with curious minds will enjoy tales of a time gone by.
A golden history
Revel in the history that followed the discovery of Cohen’s Reef, a three-kilometre vein of gold running through Walhalla. On the Walhalla Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine tour, learn about the tough lives of miners as you explore 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.
Take a ride on the railway
Take a ride on the iconic Walhalla Goldfields Railway and enjoy the views as you pass the beautiful Stringers Creek Gorge. 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 chuggs along trestle bridges as it winds it’s 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.
This is a must-do for any train buffs and kids will love the open-air carriages and being able to experience a historic locomotive. It is even pet friendly, so bring your dog along for the ride too.
Walk the tramline
Follow an old timber tramline along the contours of the Valley of the Gods with flora, fauna, historic gold mines and great views of Walhalla. There’s a short loop for those with limited time, and wheelchair access if you join at the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine car park. The walk can take from 15 minutes to 1 hour and varies in difficulty level from level 1 to 3. Try this walk in the early morning for magical misty views as the clouds lift and the sun warms up the town.
Ride the Walhalla Goldfields Rail Trail
If a cycle is more your style, the Walhalla Goldfields Rail Trail is for you. This 7km ride takes you through magnificent forests and enjoy views of the Thomson River along part of the narrow-gauge railway route that once ran from Moe to Walhalla. The track is generally smooth dirt or gravel track with some rough dirt sections, suitable for most ages and fitness levels, some riding experience is recommended. This trail can become muddy and slippery after rain, so is suitable for mountain bikes and hybrids only. The last 300 metres of the trail near Thomson is steep and narrow so take care.
Take a ghostly night 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. Operated by the Walhalla Heritage & Development League, the Walhalla Ghost Tour provides a fascinating insight into the long-forgotten gold-rush town’s past, told by recounting a number of spine-tingling tales, whilst standing on the actual site of some of the spookiest tragedies.
Frequently seen hauntings in Walhalla include The Trembath Ghost in the Print Shop, The Forgotten Children Spirits of Walhalla, The Poltergeist Horses of Church Hill Road, The Phantom Band of the Rotunda, The Burning Child of Windsor House, The Trench Coat Walker and The Spetts Spinster.
Even if you don’t do the ghost tour, a walk around town at night, and even up to the old cemetery on the hill, will leave a spinetingling experience that will have you looking over your shoulder.
Where to stay
Finding a place to stay in Walhalla is easy and the choices are endless, from cosy B&Bs and cottages to nearby luxury retreats, rustic farm stays and some beautiful caravan parks. There are plenty of camping (free and paid) sites throughout the Gippsland region and places to pull up in your caravan or RV. However, you can’t go past the famous Walhalla’s Star Hotel, for many 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. The next reason is the incredible food. Dining here with views across the main street of town is second to none. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s 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.
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.