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Published: February 5th 2012
January - we had already decided to stay an extra day in Wantirna to prepare ourselves for our on-going adventures so the day was spent quietly organising ourselves. We wanted to go east from Melbourne and, in particular, head for a place called Walhalla. At the same time, we had some dry-cleaning to collect (our borrowed wedding outfits) and some grocery shopping to do. We didn’t want to take the caravan to Walhalla so we arranged for it to be put into storage for a few days and for us to return to it when we had completed our excursion to eastern Victoria. Obviously because of the wedding and the subsequent trip to Rye, we had a fair bit of re-organising to do and it took us longer than anticipated. Eventually, though, we found ourselves in a good position – the shopping had been done, the dry-cleaning collected, the caravan was ready to be moved in the morning and we could plan for the next few days. The weather forecast wasn’t brilliant but we hoped to explore the old mining town of Walhalla and to spend some time in or near Lakes Entrance. We anticipated being away for about
On the morning of 1st February things progressed reasonably well - we weren’t in any particular hurry but we had moved the caravan to the storage area by 9:30am. We completed the arrangements with the Park owners for our “flexible” return and, after a few last minute adjustments, we hit the road towards Lakes Entrance. From Wantirna, the road connections for leaving Melbourne to the east are excellent and we were soon well out of the city suburbs. After being on the road for about an hour, we were attracted by a sign advertising “Musical Village” and became curious enough to see what it was all about. It was a small village with a large museum type building devoted to musical instruments but as we were anxious to get as far along our route as we could today, and there was a hefty charge to enter, we pushed on to the town of Yarragon. Here we were attracted by the prettiness and neatness of the town and as it was, by now, lunch time, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. I had prepared rolls but we were aware that today’s destination, Walhalla, was quite
The Walhalla Gold Mine
the mine yielded about 144,000 ounces of gold
remote and may not have facilities for an evening meal. So we decided to have a lunchtime meal and to save our rolls for later. We were spoilt for choice for a restaurant in Yarragon and had a pleasant meal in a nice café before moving on towards Walhalla. When we reached the next small town, Trafalgar, we spotted a service station with very reasonably priced fuel so we topped up our diesel tank. The next town, Moe, was the obvious place from which to access Walhalla but we had been warned that Moe was not the most pleasant of places, being an industrial town. So we drove on towards Walhalla until we reached the very small town of Rawson where, as luck would have it, there was a tourist village with a substantial motel. On enquiry, there was a room available and at a good price so we booked two nights and settled into our very large, very comfortable room.
It was still fairly early, about 4:30pm, and with a lot of daylight still left, so we decided to explore the area and to take our rolls with us in case we found a suitable spot for a
picnic. We soon found ourselves in the fascinating town of Walhalla which once boasted a population of 3500 people. Because of the discovery of gold it was a thriving community with umpteen hotels, churches, schools etc. Today there is a permanent population of just 20 but the many holiday cottages that have been so well restored and maintained, many in precarious or “difficult to get to” locations, act as a tourist magnet so it is quite a bustling area. We decided to make it a fleeting visit this evening and to save the fuller exploration until tomorrow when we can spend all day there if necessary. So for now we drove off towards Mount Erica and the Thompson River Dam. The gravel road up to a lookout on Mount Erica was good and we covered the 5 kilometers easily. Unfortunately, to get to the actual lookout from the car park involved a long walk of several kilometres and, since we just wanted somewhere to sit and eat our rolls, we decided to head off towards the dam. This proved to be far more amenable and we were soon having our evening picnic overlooking the lake which was created by The
Walhalla Railway Station - now a tourist railway
We thought about renting the cottage above the station building - how fantastic would that have been!
Thompson Dam. Afterwards we drove to the Silvertop Lookout but the view was no better than we’d had at our picnic spot. We drove back to the motel and settled in for the night while watching the first Twenty20 cricket international between Australia and India from Sydney. We had thought to go to the second one at the MCG in Melbourne on Friday but we probably won’t be back in time.
On Thursday 2nd
February, after a casual breakfast, we made our way again to Walhalla but this time with the intention of walking through the town. We investigated the possibility of a trip on The Goldfields Railway but unfortunately it didn’t run on Thursdays! We parked in the first of many day visitor areas and examined the numerous information signs and as many of the old buildings as we were allowed to explore. This included the old Post Office which happened to be fully open to the public today – absolutely fascinating. The town developed as a result of the discovery of gold and was built in a steep-sided valley. We were able to explore the cemetery but this involved a hard climb to reach and an even
harder climb to explore as the cemetery stretched up one side of the valley. Many of the surviving buildings are now holiday homes so are not accessible to tourists but other buildings remain as they were, including a couple of old hotels and the Fire Station which was open to visitors. We investigated the possibility of having lunch and at least one of the hotels provided food and the Walhalla Pub, known as “The Wally”, did counter meals. But another old restored building was now a café and we chose there to order a couple of all-day breakfasts (naughty but nice!). Then we moved on to the band-stand – a most unusual band-stand in that it was several meters off the ground. We didn’t discover why it had been built like that but guessed that the area used to flood, as a healthy looking stream runs right through the heart of the town! Places of interest abounded but many involved a severe climb. One of these was the cricket pitch located on the only level area near the town but which involved a one kilometre steep climb. We started the climb but gave up as it was proving to be
just too exhausting - they must have been pretty fit cricketers! Another climb was up to the tracks which were the main accesses to and from one of the bigger mines and where there was a display of some of the old mining equipment. I chose to do the climb while Graham strolled back to the car. From the track you could get an idea of the extreme difficulties faced by the miners and the views were spectacular. The town was proving to be a fascinating history lesson and the contrast between its bustling heyday and now is almost unimaginable. It had been a great place to explore but at about 3:30pm we made our way back to Rawson to our motel. The evening was spent catching up with blogs and also talking with Barb and Tony on Skype. We hadn’t been able to make contact since our trip to Tasmania so we had plenty to talk about. Graham watched a scary “futuristic” movie on the TV while I prepared for our on-going journey tomorrow and we got to bed at about midnight.
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