Published: March 17th 2013March 16th 2013
Chilli with a sunrise blush
Friday and Saturday.
We left the coastal regions and headed inland on Friday morning, stopping at Sale for shopping, and then headed through Traralgon to Walhallor. The mountain road is twisty, but sealed all the way, presenting no travel issues.
At the far north of town is a free camp with limited spaces for RVs and a tent site adjacent. Good facilities too.
Valhallor was the Great Feasting Hall in Nordic mythology where half of the soldiers slain in battle found their rest.
I'm not sure if Walhallor could be described as the great hall, but it is an interesting mix where this ghost town has elegant beauty, scarred by man, and regrown to great spleandour, but pock marked with awful tradgedy.
Let me explain. Walhalor is in a narrow river valley, very steep contours, great natural vegitation and wild life. It was also hiding a number of very prosporous gold reefs - in todays value about 3 Billion dollars of gold were mined here.
To make the mine efficient, the miners built a 4 boiler steam driven compressor system to drive the air compressors and pumps. To feed the boilers, every tree was cut,
Walhallor Camp Spot (free)
Area for tents to the left. Good amenities.
dried, and carried by pony trains 1 k into the mine where the furnaces were working. The smoke was taken 200 meters upward through chimney shafts drilled up through the rock. Pumping was primitive, so miners often worked in knee deep water/mud. If a pony died in service, which often occurred, they were just left where they dropped, making that water pretty unsanitary.
Where you have gold, you also have much more waste or scree. This has been tipped and dumped in many places leaving an unstable hillside and dangerous access to the old mine shafts.
There is good accomodation in the village with little cotages for rent as well as bed and breakfast or hotel 1890s style.
A railway was built from Moe to Walhallor to ship in wood for the boilers. So the forest destruction covered not just this valley, but the surrounds as well.
At the peak, there were 3000 people working in the area by way of miners, railway workers, and every other service you caould wish for in a remote valley. There was a school for the children of the workers - just the headmasters cabin survives.
Many of the
Winding the clock back
There are many historical photos and plaques around Walhallor. This was a wet, cold and miserable place in mid winter.
mine workers slept in the river valley flats, but these were very narrow and subject to flooding. When flooded they just moved up the hill side.
They could also catch the train - not at a station, they just hailed the driver as they came up the valley. One station, the travelers came by flying fox down to the station. It was too steep and unstable for a path.
Over 100 years ago the invitable happened, the yeild dropped and the cost of mining rose, so every one left. Only a few of the original buildings remain, and replicas of some have been built in recent years. The outcome is really quaint, and other than recreation and tourism, Walhallor would have fallen off the map.
We are so glad to have taken time to visit this valley, talk to locals (there are only 20 on a good day) and ride the gold field rail.
The 100 year of inactivity has seen forests regrow, wild life return, and there is a banquet for your eyes in every corner of this ghost town. It is pock marked with tragedy - a visit to the hillside cemetary tells of
Walkabout around Walhalor.
Down the main street. Oh, thgere are two others I think, but they went to satelite areas like Brewery Creek.
young men lost in mining accidents, children dying young, and people of all ages succumbing to disease.
At nightfall the tree behind the MH came alive with noise - much like a games arcade. Lyre birds mimic all the other birds and have a creative repitoir of their own to go with it.
We salute the pioneers of Walhallorr, their resolve in living and working in this high country river valley, and pay respect to those volunteers who have worked to rebuild the railway (it is 150 years old this year) and maintain and restore the old cottages and commercial buildings.
There are more photos below