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Encyclopedia > Walhalla, Victoria
View of part Walhalla, showing mainly original buildings - including the fire station built over the creek - as well as some reconstructed ones.
View of part Walhalla, showing mainly original buildings - including the fire station built over the creek - as well as some reconstructed ones.

Walhalla is a small town in Victoria, Australia, founded as a gold-mining community in the late 19th century and at its peak home to around 3000 residents. The town has a 2005 population of around 20 permanent residents, though it attracts large numbers of tourists and is a major focus of the regional tourism industry. The town's name is taken from an early gold mine in the area, named for the German hall of fame, the Walhalla temple (Valhalla from Norse legend). Image File history File linksMetadata WalhallaVicCorner. ... Image File history File linksMetadata WalhallaVicCorner. ... Motto: Peace and Prosperity Other Australian states and territories Capital Melbourne Governor HE Mr John Landy Premier Steve Bracks (ALP) Area 237,629 km² (6th)  - Land 227,416 km²  - Water 10,213 km² (4. ... View of the Walhalla from the Danube View of the Walhalla main hall The Walhalla, Hall of Fame and Honor is a hall of fame located on the Danube River 10 km from Regensburg, in Bavaria, Germany. ... In this illustration from a 17th century Icelandic manuscript, Heimdall is shown guarding the gate of Valhalla. ...



Walhalla is located in TSouth-East Australia, in the eastern Victorian region of Gippsland, about 180 kilometres from the state capital Melbourne. It is located in the Great Dividing Range, in the steep Stringers Creek valley, approximately six kilometers upstream of the creek's junction with the Thomson River. The area around the town is designated as an historic area, adjoining the Baw Baw National Park. Emblems: Pink heath (floral)Weedy Seadragon (Aquatic) helmeted honeyeater (bird) Leadbeaters possum (faunal) Motto: Peace and Prosperity Slogan or Nickname: Garden State, The Place To Be, On The Move Other Australian states and territories Capital Melbourne Government Const. ... John Longstaffs Gippsland, Sunday night, February 20th, 1898, depicting the Red Tuesday bushfires that ravaged Gippsland For the electoral district in the Australian House of Representatives, see Division of Gippsland. ... Melbournes Yarra River is popular area for walking, jogging, cycling and relaxing on the banks with a picnic Melbourne (pronounced ) is the second most populous city in Australia, with a metropolitan area population of approximately 3. ... The Great Divide runs around the entire eastern and south-eastern edge of Australia The Great Dividing Range, also known as the Eastern Highlands, is Australias most substantial mountain range. ... Thomson River is a river in Victoria, Australia. ... Baw Baw is a national park in Victoria (Australia), 111 km east of Melbourne. ...

Owing to the confined space in which the town finds itself, the majority of buildings are located along one main street which follows the creek through the valley until it splits into two branches at the northern end of the town centre. In the late nineteenth century the town also sported a number of 'suburbs', situated on the mountain peaks above the valley.


Discovery of Gold

The history of Walhalla is closely linked to the history of gold in Victoria. The first gold had been found in Victoria in 1851, leading to the Victorian gold rush. By 1859 prospectors had pushed far east of Melbourne into the trackless wilderness of the Great Dividing Range. Major gold strikes on the Jordan River encouraged other prospectors to follow the nearby Thomson River in their search for the valuable metal. The Victorian gold rush was a period in the history of Victoria in Australia between approximately 1851 and the early 1860s. ... The Great Divide runs around the entire eastern and south-eastern edge of Australia The Great Dividing Range, also known as the Eastern Highlands, is Australias most substantial mountain range. ... Thomson River is a river in Victoria, Australia. ...

A group of prospectors who had been exploring and in creeks flowing into the Thomson River valley found sometime during late December 1862 or early January 1863. A claim was pegged out and a member of this group, former convict Edward Randel, registered the claim at the outpost town on Bald Hills on January 12th under his assumed name, Edward "Ned" Stringer. Although he was presented with a monetary reward of £100 for his discovery, Stringer was unable to capitalise on his finds, dying in September 1863. Although the settlement was soon rechristened Walhalla after an early mine, the creek running through town still bears his name.

The rush that inevitably followed news of this find was slowed to some extent by the goldfield's remote and inaccessible location, but many miners soon found their way there. In February 1863, John Hinchcliffe discovered an immensely rich quartz reef in the hill just above the creek, which he named Cohen's Reef, after a storekeeper at Bald Hills.

Mining Operations

Gold panning and related techniques quickly exhausted all the alluvial (surface) deposits. By late 1863 mining operations began as prospectors sought and then followed the underground veins of gold. At Walhalla this could mean tunnelling into the steep valley walls as well as the more traditional digging downward. This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ...

The vast majority of gold extraction from Walhalla centred around Cohen's Reef, the largest single oreshoot in Victoria. By 1900 the 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 expenses 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 alone over its operation between the years 1865-1914.

The crushing machinery used to extract the gold from the quartz-based ore required large amounts of energy, supplied largely by wood-burning steam engines. The need for fuel wood led to the hills being denuded for some considerable distance around town, timber tramways bringing freshly-cut timber for the boilers. The associated costs of bringing wood from further and further away were a key factor in the economic problems which eventually ended mining in Walhalla.

Walhalla's Boom Period (1860-1910)

By late 1863 there had been more finds made nearby at Happy-Go-Lucky, three kilometers from Stringer's Creek, and at Cooper's Creek, where copper was later to be discovered in even greater abundance. By March 1864, Walhalla had a weekly mail service from Toongabbie, and the Walhalla Post Office was opened on August 22, 1864.

The first hotel, the Reefer's Arms, was opened in September 1863. In time, there were more than a dozen hotels, breweries and an aerated waters factory. A branch of the Bank of Victoria was opened in September, 1865, and a branch of the Bank of Australasia was opened in February, 1866. Shopkeepers, publicans and other traders built the town up quickly in support of the rush.

By May of 1866, the township of Stringer's Creek had been surveyed and renamed Walhalla, after one of the most prosperous mines then working. Most of the first lots of township land were sold to the already-resident householders. That year saw a church building was erected for the Wesleyan Church, and establishment of a Police reserve and Court of Petty Sessions. The Wesleyan Church in America (formerly Wesleyan Methodist) was officially formed in 1843 at an organizing conference in Utica, New York, as a group of ministers and laymen splitting from the Methodist Episcopal Church, primarily over the issue of slavery, though they had secondary issues as well. ...

The growing number of families in the area saw the Mechanics' Institute and Free Library also serving as a school when it opened in 1867. Before too long, Walhalla could boast fraternal societies, a debating club, and (briefly at least) a chess club, choral union and dramatic club. By January, 1870, the "Walhalla Chronicle" newspaper was being published, and by December of the same year, a two-acre (.8 ha) site had been gazetted for State School No. 957, which had taken its first enrolments in 1868. Historically, Mechanics Institutes were educational establishments formed to provide adult education, particularly in technical subjects, to working people. ...

A self-appointed "Council of Ten" sought registration as a Borough in 1869, but dissolved without the necessary public support for rating the town's properties before it could accomplish much more than commissioning the construction of the stone retaining wall that still stands today in the centre of town. A Borough was eventually proclaimed in late 1872, and by 1878 was able to successfully agitate with the state government for the completion of the first section of the present main road from Moe. By the end of 1879, Walhalla had daily coach services connecting it to the railway line at Moe to the south and to Traralgon to the east, and its isolation had been considerably reduced. Moe or MOE may mean: Moé, an anime term used to describe an ideal girl Moe, one of the Three Stooges moe. ... Traralgon is an industrial and agricultural town and largest town in the Latrobe Valley in Australia. ...

The Long Tunnel Company introduced both electricity (1884) and the telephone (1891) into the mine. Although Walhalla briefly led the world in having two electric street lights in 1884, this service was never extended further into the town. But the community continued to grow, with houses and gardens lining the hillsides along the valley, to a peak population of more than 2,000 with more than that many again living in the surrounding mountain-top "suburbs" of Maiden Town, Mormon Town and Happy Go Lucky. Sporting activities such as cricket and football clubs, with a cricket ground being created through levelling the top of a nearby hill as no other lfat land was available.

The End of Mining and years as Ghost Town (1910-1980)

After many years of lobbying from business interests, the Victorian government eventually agreed to the construction of a rail line into town. The line was completed into Walhalla in 1910, the last of four experimental narrow gauge (2'6") railways built by the Victorian Railways. Branching from the main Gippsland line at Moe, the Walhalla line crossed hilly farming country, until it reached the town of Erica where it entered heavily mountainous territory, crossing the Thomson River by means of a large steel and concrete bridge then snaking up Stringer's Creek Gorge over a track featuring ledges blasted from sheer rock faces, dry stone walls built rising from the creek bed, and six timber trestle bridges and brackets within the last few hundred meters into town. The former Victorian Railways, the state railway authority in Victoria, Australia built a number of experimental narrow-gauge railway lines around the beginning of the 20th century. ... Narrow-gauge railways are railroads (railways) with track spaced at less than the standard gauge of 4 ft 8 in (1. ... Moe (postcode: 3825, ) is a town in the Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia. ... Erica is a town in Victoria, Australia, located on Rawson Road, in the Baw Baw Shire. ... It has been suggested that Rock fence be merged into this article or section. ... Steel trestle with plate girder spans A trestle is a bridge that consists of a large number of short spans, supported by splayed vertical elements and is usually for railroad use. ...

The railway was hoped to bring new life back into the community, however gold mining was already becoming largely unprofitable and the last of the major mines closed in 1913. With the disappearance of the main indudstry in town, the bulk of the population soon left.

One of the railway's main uses became the removal of old buildings out of town, with the original railway station now being relocated to Hartwell in suburban Melbourne. In 1944 the section from Erica to Walhalla was closed, although some trains continued to run goods services to Platina station near the Thomson River for small mining operations. The service from Moe to Erica continued to service the farming and timber industries of the area, but it gradually decreased in patronage, until it too was closed in 1954.

Until the growth of the tourist industry in the 1970s and 80s, Walhalla continued on as a ghost town for most of the twentieth century. A fire swept through town in 1951 and a number of buildings were destroyed without being rebuilt. The school closed in 1965 and further fires and floods slowly chipped away at the remains of the town.

Walhalla in the present day

Since around 1980 Walhalla has experienced something of a renaissance with a booming tourist industry and the restoration or reconstruction of numerous historical buildings in the town, including the Star Hotel, Mechanics Institute and Railway Station.

In 1991 a group of interested parties formed a taskforce to investigate reconstruction of the Walhalla railway as a tourist attraction, something which had been unsuccessfully attempted on at least one other occasion previously. Work by the newly-formed Walhalla Goldfields Railway commenced in 1993 at Thomson Station, situated next to the Thomson River immediately before the bridge. With the restoration of the Thomson River Bridge, trains began to take tourists back up the Stringer's Creek Gorge, with a temporary terminus being created at Happy Creek due to the need for reconstruction of the timber trestle bridges completing the journey into town. Narrow gauge (2ft 6in) tourist railway located in the Thomson River and Stringers Creek valleys in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, near the former gold-mining town and popular tourist destination of Walhalla. ...

This terminus was the end point for tourist trains from Thomson Bridge from 1996 until 2002, when the line was opened through to the old station site. The current station building is an exact replica of the original, although the yard layout is considerably different owing to a section of the former station's location having been covered by earlier road deviation works of the main road into Walhalla.

Landmarks and tourist information

As well as historical buildings, the township features many mines and mineshafts and the mountainous terrain is popular with hikers and bushwalkers. Walhalla also features many camping grounds, although camping is not permitted is within 50 m of Stringers Creek, as the water is not fit for drinking.

The current Railway Station is a replica of the original station building (now located in the Melbourne suburb of Hartwell), although the interior has been modified somewhat. It is situated on the opposite side of the station yard from its original location due to the main road into Walhalla having been widened after the railway closed. Train rides are operated by the Walhalla Goldfields Railway over the restored section between Walhalla and the Thomson River. Narrow gauge (2ft 6in) tourist railway located in the Thomson River and Stringers Creek valleys in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, near the former gold-mining town and popular tourist destination of Walhalla. ... Thomson River is a river in Victoria, Australia. ...

The Walhalla Fire Station was built straddling Stringers Creek and is now open to the public as a museum.

The Band Rotunda was built at the junction of the left- and right-hand branches of Stringers Creek in 1896, commissioned by the Mountaineer Brass Band, who held a competition for its design. Two hotels were situated opposite the Band Rotunda, the Star Hotel on the north side of the creek fork, and the Grand Junction Hotel on the south side. The original Star Hotel was burnt down in a bushfire in 1952, but reconstructed in 1999 with a recreation of the original facade. The Lochgelly Band, a Scottish colliery band, circa 1890 A brass band is a musical group consisting mostly of brass instruments, often with a percussion section. ...

Windsor House was built by German Johannes Glotz between 1878 and 1888 from around 90,000 handmade bricks, the only brick residence in the town. Glotz maintained a vinyard on the slope above building, producing around 900 bottles of Riesling in the year 1880. The building is currently a bed and breakfast. Tourists of various nationalities chatting over breakfast at a B&B in Quebec City. ...

Situated on top of the hill immediately to the north-east of the junction of the east and west branches of Stringers Creek is the Walhalla Cricket Ground, approximately a 45 minute hike from the valley floor. The Walhalla Cricket Ground is a landmark in Walhalla, Victoria, Australia. ... Two hikers in the Mount Hood National Forest Eagle_Creek hiking Hiking is a form of walking, undertaken with the specific purpose of exploring and enjoying the scenery. ...

The Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine

The Long Tunnel Extended Gold mine is owned by the Government of Victoria and is operated by the Walhalla Crown Reserves Board of Management on behalf of the people of Victoria. Underground tours are conducted daily. The tour takes you 300 metres into the huge underground machinery chamber hewn from the solid rock over a century ago. Old mining methods are discussed and a large outcrop of the famous Cohens Line of Reef is exposed in the mine.

External links

Coordinates: -37.943731° 146.450763°° Map of Earth showing lines of latitude (horizontally) and longitude (vertically), Eckert VI projection; large version (pdf, 1. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Going underground - Victoria - Australia - Travel - theage.com.au (1233 words)
Walhalla retains the charm and intrigue of its gold-rush heritage.
Walhalla is one of four towns in the world named for the Norse god Odin's mythological hall and, the story goes, home to slain heroes (there's the original in Germany and another two in the United States).
Walhalla came into being in 1863, when a miner named Ned Stringer discovered a seam of gold.
  More results at FactBites »



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