The Town of Walhalla, Victoria Australia
Walhalla is historic gold town North of Traralgon, but most of us turned off the M1 earlier, driving NE from Moe. It took us about 2 hours 10 mins of easy driving from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs to reach the town.
Walhalla was once one of Australia’s richest gold towns, but unlike Bendigo or Ballarat, lacks grand civic buildings. Founded in 1863, it was once resident to about 2,500 residents and accounts talk of over 4,000 gold seekers living around what is now a sleepy mountain town on the floor and sides of a narrow Valley. Today, Walhalla has only twenty permanent residents.
As is usual, the initial gold rush saw panning for gold quickly exhaust all the alluvial surface gold. Just as in places like Ballarat and Bendigo – the miners turned to digging mines to find the source of the alluvial gold which has been washed into the local creek. Unlike Ballarat and Bendigo where miners sunk deep vertical shafts, miners at Walhalla initially dug into the sides of the valley in search of the source of the gold, known as Cohen’s Reef, the largest single reef in Victoria. By 1900 the quartz reef had already produced around 55 tonnes of gold (approximately 1.8 million troy ounces, worth around US$790 million in 2005).
Due to the enormous expense of underground gold mining, small claims operated by individuals or small groups soon folded, being replaced by large companies such as the Long Tunnel Mining Company. This company owned the richest mine working the reef, the Long Tunnel, which produced around 13.7 tonnes of gold over its operation between 1865 to 1914. Several Devotion members toured the Long Tunnel Mine on Sunday which proved to be very interesting.
The town is picturesque and a great place to spend the weekend. Once you park the car, with short walks it is easy to get around town.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
After many years of lobbying from business interests, the Victorian Government eventually agreed to construct a rail line into Walhalla. The line into Walhalla was completed in 1910, the last of four narrow gauge (2' 6") railways built by the Victorian Railways. The Walhalla Goldfields Railway still operates as a tourist attraction through the beautiful and rugged Stringers Creek Gorge.