During the 19th Century, the Walhalla-Woods Point Gold Belt was bursting with heavily-populated towns filled with men hoping to strike it rich. As the gold began to run out, so too did the population. Eventually, what were once villages filled with schools, churches, hotels, hospitals and homes became mere ghost towns.
Over the years, little has been done to maintain this intriguing part of Victoria’s history. Evidence of the past has been further concealed by the devastating fires that have swept through the region periodically.
Today, this fascinating part of the Victorian High Country stands as a ghostly reminder of the goldrush. You wonder what secrets the trees would tell if they could talk. Or what story lies behind a pile of stones in a burial ground. Broken bottles and buried china are just a few of the treasures waiting to be found which hold the key to unlocking history.
Historical markers and well-maintained walking tracks on the Gold Belt lead the way to sites where, with a little imagination and some historical documentation, pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place.
Tourists can access the archival ‘goldmine’ via the small towns along the belt, including Walhalla, which sits about three hours east of Melbourne. Here, you get a peculiar understanding of what life might have been like in one of these defunct mining towns. Walhalla and nearby Erica and Rawson are home to a sprinkling of residents, although these places are barely recognisable as the heavily populated townships they once were.
From each town, tourists can travel on day trips along Aberfeldy Track. There are several sealed roads suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles, but most are accessible by four-wheel drive only. For those looking for a little adventure and to explore the region more deeply, it’s advisable to have appropriate equipment for the challenging routes that lie ahead.
The Aberfeldy Track is in West Gippsland, Victoria, about three hours east of Melbourne. The track is open year round, but be wary of fires during summer and it can get very cold during winter. There are various tracks accessible via 2WD but a 4WD will serve you better on these roads if you really want to explore. Be aware. The area gets very wet and slippery during the colder months.
Walhalla’s North Gardens Camping Ground, Coopers Creek Recreation, Aberfeldy River Camping Area (Baw Baw National Park) or Brunton’s Bridge. Most camping is free on a first in first serve basis.
Find and book holiday park accommodation in West Gippsland.