In its time there were 3,000 plus people here. Whilever gold fever is around, there will be people. They supported 10 hotels, always a yardstick of how a town was doing in early Australia.
Ned Stringer was involved in the original grant with three others but died intestate with a less than savoury reputation but Walhalla originally carried his name, Stringer's Creek.
He did not live to see the town grow as, in September 1863, ten months after the discovery, he visited a doctor in Sale to obtain relief from a cold that had plagued him. After staying overnight at Toongabbie on the way home he had such a violent paroxysm fo coughing that he burst a blood vessel and died.
The opening shot shows a lad in period dress in front of an original building so you can garner some idea of what it was like. The second shot is interesting from the viewpoint of the rock formation at the rear which is indicative of what they had to dig through after the alluvial ran out. The last shot is another of the people in period costume who were on a charity ride the day we were there.
There's a really neat walk. One end of it starts from adjacent to the rotunda. At the top of the stairs if you turn right you go straight to the Long Tunnel Gold Mine (see earlier tip). This operated from 1863 to 1913 and 81,556,902 ounces were recovered. If you invested 10 pounds in this venture you would have made 510 pounds for your investment. Well, that's assuming you were still alive!
Should you head in the other direction you get nice overviews of the town, as shown in these three shots.
It's a loop track so you can start at either end. Should you go this way you can then carry up the other side to the cemetery.
Pearson Memorial Hospital is in this picture. You'll probably have to blow it up and look carefully in the top right hand corner where you'll notice a fine edifice peeping through the trees.
William Pearson was a wealthy shareholder in the Long Tunnel Mine and donated his accommodation to the community.
It no longer is a hospital, having initially closed in 1900 due to the fact that only 58 patients had been treated in the previous 6 years. However, the problem was that it was only used for mine casualties.
A larger general facility, with operating theatre and morgue, was built by Herman Gloz in 1909 and it was closed around 1940 due to a dwindling population.
These days it passes life as a B&B with advantageous position and splendid views.
I later found a clearer picture of the premises and have added it as pic 2.
There's lots of little interesting things to see on the walk, the poppet head of the Long Tunnel Gold Mine for one and the whimsical sign (pic 2) giving directions to places only a handful would ever consider.
The third pic is obviously of a flower, though they are few in number in this area, the tertiary tree growth limiting their possibilities.
The fourth is of the river, something just above a trickle when I was there but, rest assured, when it flows it can rage with a vengeance.
A brass band was a major player in the social life of towns such as this. They still survive in some places to this day though, somewhat sadly in my opinion, we prefer to sit in front of a screen for our leisure these days. I'm certainly and obviously one who does just that.
However, funds were raised publicly and a rotunda built in 1895 for the band and, despite being flooded a few times, it still stands today.
That's the thing about gold mining towns, poverty persists alongside plenty and one of the more distressing ramifications of living here was the amount of young children that died during or just after child birth and in the ensuing 5 years. The graveyard is littered with reminders of these human tragedies.
Some idea can be gleaned from records in the 1860's where a Mrs. Carbery died in November 1863, 6 days after the birth of a daughter, who only survived the birth for a week.
Not having a doctor was a problem that led to such scenarios but, even in the '80s when they had one, he sometimes needed an assistant. This was what befell Annie Witton, publisher of the local newspaper, when she had trouble giving birth. Unable to relay a message via the primitive telegraph a man called John Jacomb rode over 80 kilometres to fetch the assistant doctor. Though the mother was saved the child, again sadly, only lasted three weeks.
Other examples can be seen on this tombstone.
No less a scribe than noted English novelist, Anthony Trollope, visited in 1872 and was surprised to see a piano and a billiard table. He said, "..the mountains were so steep that it was often impossible to sit on horseback.....I could not have believed there had been so much traffic across the mountains and through the forests had I not afterwards seen the things at Walhalla." He was also suitably impressed by the standard of billiards played and found the Long Tunnel miners were as courteous as any people he had met.
This is an old gold mine where you can actually go underground and see how it used to be.
This rejuvenated mine, and I know this because my youngest son's company had a hand in the occupational health and safety standards here, was only re-opened in recent times. It was one of the most lucrative of mines with over 13 tonnes of gold coming out of its seams.
The tour takes around 45 minutes and will set an adult back around $12.
Rated Australia's most unusual cemetery by locals, though there would be some competition for that, it sits on the side of a 45 degree precipitous slope.
There have been over 1,100 burials here though considerably fewer memorials are visible today. That doesn't detract from its dramatic location however and a 5 minute stroll up the steep path puts you into an entirely different world to that in the gully below.
In the pictures here I have included one to highlight the tragic infant mortality rate. On more than one gravestone you will read of children dying well before their parents and, sometimes, parents dying within weeks of their offspring. One couldn't help but wonder if their children's demise had left them heartbroken.
On another site you can see how the colour of flowers, in this case lilies, changes the perspective of the memorial.
This is claimed to be Australia's most scenic railway and it's hard to dispute that when you're riding along it. Cut into a small canyon it certainly rates high on a picturesque scale, let alone being a wonder as an engineering feat.
The narrow gauge line was opened in 1910 but was never really successful, eventually closing in 1944 and it wasn't until enthusiasts commenced restoration in the 1990's that it all began to get exciting again.
It's listed as a 20 minute excursion one way. You can do that and have 20 minutes at Thomson River before returning to Walhalla just one hour after you left.
They got my money and I recommend they get yours. Kids will absolutely love it. One for all the family
Because this is off the beaten track, there are not a lot of people exploring this old gold mining community. There are plenty of tracks around town to take you to the top of the hills and overlook the city...while exploring the old goldmining caves.
What an experience...out in the middle of nowhere...we stumbled across this cute town...with a train that took about 1.5 hours return for travel between 2 towns. We'd recommend this inexpensive $12AUD trip to explore the forest from Walhalla and back.