A town inside a Bubble
by Chris Chalk
Walhalla, a rich gold producer for 50 years, lives on as a remote and picturesque mountain township. It is hard to imagine a more difficult site for a town than the steep, narrow valley of Stringers Creek as it winds down through the dense forests of the Baws Baws. Yet in its heyday, between 1880 and 1895, more than 4000 people lived there.
Gold was found in Stringers Creek in 1863 and by 1866 numerous mines within the valley were opened. The great Long Tunnel Company, to which the prosperity of Walhalla owed its existence, became the greatest single producer of gold in Victoria. It closed in 1913. Walhalla once supported 15 hotels, 40 shops, two breweries, four churches, a school, jail and its own newspaper.
The narrow-gauge railway arrived from Moe in 1910 only in time to see the town die. The two major mines closed in 1911 and 1913 and the trains which were to have brought prosperity were used to cart away Walhalla’s buildings. By 1920 there were only 250 people left. The railway closed in 1944 but is now rebuilt by the dedicated residents and supportive enthusiasts as a tourist railway including many of its historical buildings.
Victoria – Australia