Australia’s Great Dividing Range is the spine of eastern Australia. Stretching for 3,500 kms down the full length of the east coast before turning westwards and dividing most of Victoria as well as influencing the climate. “Ah the weather will improve once we’re over “The Divide.” As we often say, because it is much drier inland of ‘The Divide’.
There’s a tiny town called Walhalla nestled in a steep valley in the southern slopes of the Great Divide in Gippsland in Victoria. There are only a handful of permanent residents, less than twenty according to Wikipedia. Yet in its gold mining heyday the population was more like 4000. Gold was discovered there in 1863 and the Long Tunnel Mine alone extracted 32.3 tons of gold during its operation*. This gold was initially shipped to Melbourne via Port Albert in the south.
With little more than one road running through the town there is easy access from the Princes Highway (M1). However north of Walhalla the road turns to 4WD only and crosses the mountains to Woods Point on the other side over 100kms away.
The valley is mere metres wide with both the road and Stringers Creek threading their way through. The old wooden fire station straddles the creek attesting to the shortage of land in bygone days. The cemetery clings to the steep hillside and echoes the harsh life that miners and their families had to endure.
Thirty years ago Walhalla was almost a ghost town and rather ramshackle. Now with love and a lick of paint here and there, miner’s cottages have become cherished weekenders. Magnolias and camellias bloom in the gardens and English daisies carpet the lawns. A busy narrow gauge tourist railway takes visitors over the trestle bridge and hearty meals are available at the Wally pub. Walhalla is a delightful town to explore on foot and there is nothing better than to sit quietly and try to imagine what life here must have been like.
Free camping is available at the North Gardens camp ground.
For more information on this fascinating town, visit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Gippsland/Destinations/Walhalla.aspx