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After winding your way through the tall trees from the Walhalla turn off, and going over the big Thomson Bridge, you may be able to spot the Walhalla Railway tracks on the right hand side as it follows the river.
This was a blessing in disguise as it took the focus off the winding roads just as the children were starting to feel ill.
A few corners up is the entrance to the Walhalla Railway.
Through the white gate is the station and parking area, inside the station you will find lots of information on other train rides in Victoria and other states, along with historic facts about Walhalla with tourist information, souvenirs, drinks and snacks.
Aboard the train it's immaculate and very comfortable. There are two carriages to choose between, one being slightly different to the other. We travelled in both to get the full experience and I recommend doing this. First class is comfortable and roomy. The carriage closest to the locomotive is great for taking photos as you can get right up to the back of the locomotive and stand on the outside platform.
About half way along the track you pass Happy Creek Station, with a small hut and sign. It was used as a temporary terminus of the railway during the renewal of bridges 1-6 (there are 8 wooden trestle bridges in total).
Along further, the sight of the Thomson Bridge is spectacular and it's not surprising that it's heritage listed. The bridge is 92 metres long and 11 metres above the standard river height. If you're afraid of heights it's best not to look down.
A hundred metres past the bridge brings you to the turn around point at Thomson Station. With 20 minutes before departing on the return journey it's a good chance to go down to the river and have a look under the bridge to see it from a different perspective. Alternatively you can purchase refreshments and sit and enjoy the view.
The return journey is just just as good or if not better. I stood on the outside platform behind the locomotive and it was a great experience to get up close to the cliff face on one side and have the creek on the other with lots of greenery.
The railway has quite a unique history, it was first proposed to be built when the gold mines were in peak operation in 1883 but it wasn't until much later on that it was approved by government and then completed in 1910. Unfortunately the mining operations started to slow and eventually closed in 1914 which lead to a rapid decline in population for the town. Passengers and freight continued to decline during the 1920's & 1930's and the train was reduced to one service a week. The line closed in 1944.
Walhalla Railway Station itself is located in Hartwell on the Alamein line.
You can take the train for $3.50 every weekend or walk or ride your bike along the Outer Circle Anniversary Trail.
Hartwell is well serviced by local cafes and there are BBQ and picnic facilities at nearby Fordham Reserve. Unfortunately the toilets at the station are permanently closed.
The station known as Hartwell Railway Station is in Victoria. It was part of the Outer Circle Railway and opened under the name of Hartwell Hill on May 07, 1906.
It was named after nearby Hartwell House nad the name was changed to Hartwell on August 01 1909 when the original Hartwell Station changed its name to Burwood.
In December 1938 the station was enlarged when the beautiful station building from Walhalla was brought to Hartwell after the decline of that town led to the closure of the railway line from Moe to Walhalla.
Go to Walhalla to take a ride on the restored historic railway.
Go to Hartwell to see the historic station.