I am constantly amazed by the number of Melbournians who have never heard of Walhalla. Nestled in the Baw Baw National Park in Gippsland, this amazing little town is an easy 2-hour drive drive down the M1 from Melbourne – making it a great destination for a fascinating day trip, or for a relaxing weekend.
Walhalla is essentially one, main street situated in a very narrow, little valley. Behind the buildings on either side of the "main street" rise the heavily treed hills of the valley. Along the valley floor babbles Stringers Creek. One of the most immediately remarkable things about Walhalla is that flat land is so scarce that several buildings have been built to straddle the creek! Anyone with even a remote penchant for things historical or unusual will love a visit to Walhalla.
After rich seams of gold were found in Stringer's creek and in the walls of the valley either side, the fact that the site was not an ideal place for a town was blithely discounted by Walhalla's first settlers. For a time gold sustained the town. Approximately three - five thousand people and numerous pubs, hotels, bakeries and churches ingeniously contrived to exist in the narrow, little valley. When the gold dried up however, so too did Walhalla's fortunes. Walhalla looked set to become a decaying ghost town. Over the decades, key buildings were damaged by bush fires and the population steadily dwindled.
However, Walhalla is now experiencing a "boom" of a different kind. Restoration efforts that began in the 1980s are attracting tourists to the whimsical, little town in ever increasing numbers. Each year, Walhalla's population of approximately 20 people plays host to about 100,000 visitors. Tourism has meant that restoration work started in the 1980s has gathered momentum and most of the town's surviving original buildings have beautifully restored facades.
Once in the town, there are several things to do. Just walking along the main street is a feast for the eyes. The cemetry is an interesting place to learn about the first settlers and the hardships they faced. A ghost tour leverages these people's stories with some entertain poetic license. The historic railway is beautifully scenic. The tour of the gold mine is interesting and atmospheric. In the summer a visit to Walhalla can be combined with a bush walk. In the winter it can be combined with a day of snow shoeing or cross country skiing at Mt. St. Gwinear or Mt. Baw Baw.
If staying in the town accommodation ranges from free camping to luxurious hotel and B&B style accommodation. Do be aware that the weather can get quite cold in Walhalla. Reception for mobiles ranges from patchy to non-existent. Vegetarians are best to call ahead and book special meals, or bring their own food to prepare. Also, fuel cannot be bought in Walhalla, so make sure you've filled up at Moe.
Why? I am constantly amazed by the number of Melbournians who have never heard of Walhalla. This amazing little town is an easy 2-hour drive down the M1 from Melbourne – making it a great destination for a fascinating day trip, or for a relaxing weekend.
Cost:Varies. Free camping available. Other accomodation & food in Walhalla can be expensive