Left Melbourne under grey skies, heading east as the clouds got darker. Rain poured down as we joked about our choice of dates for a holiday.
A quick bite to eat in Moe, fuel for the car and then up north towards Walhala, temperature falling as the road rose through the forest. Twisty bends through forest, signs on most corners warning ordinary mortals of logging trucks.
Stopped in briefly at Thomson River station, the southern end of the Walhalla Goldfields Railway. We contemplated taking the historic train up to Walhalla, but while it would be fun in good weather, 45 minutes in a cold, draughty 100 year-old carriage didn’t seem very appealing today!
Walhalla is misty and cold and damp… and full of tour coaches. Three coaches of pensioners and one of school-kids — an interesting mix! We walked about reading the historic plaques and dodging the light misty rain, then decided to climb up the track to see the famous Walhalla cricket ground. In its hey-day every spare piece of flat ground in the town was taken up with mining leases, so the only available land for the cricket ground was up on the flat top of a nearby mountain, 200 metres above the town! Twenty minutes of climbing up a wet, slippery track over mud and shale found us at the top, 200m above the town and out of breath — no wonder the home team used to enjoy an advantage in the matches; they would camp up here the night before while the visitors had to climb up in order to play!
No sooner had we reached the top than the rain opened up. With no shelter, no memorial plaque, not even a hollow tree to hide inside it was all a bit of a disappointment, but its somewhere I’ve been, something to see. We hurried back down into the valley, slipping and sliding and trying hard not to sprain an ankle!
Down in the town again the rain stopped, a coffee gave us time to dry out and some interesting chat with the owner — he’d just got back the previous night from two week’s holiday — his first holiday in nine and a half years!
Further exploration down through the town and old cemetery to the Walhalla station, we arrived just in time to see the last train for the day head back down the valley towards Thomson River. The cemetery is far larger than the existing town — our old “Lonely Planet Victoria” gives the population as 28 — and with the rain and pine trees there are mushrooms and toadstools everywhere it has quite a melancholy atmosphere.
Bird-life too, as well as the fungi! King parrots and Crimson rosellas all around, Pied currawongs calling mournfully through the forest, there are many fat pigeons waddling around underfoot, then exploding up into flight as we near them — no idea what they are, I’ll look them up in a book later!
Back up through the town as dusk was falling, time to head on to find somewhere to stay. The tourist busses have left and even more birds had appeared to scratch around on the ground — one lawn was home to half a dozen glossy blue-black birds — Satin Bowerbirds I guess. We were really wishing we’d brought the bird book to identify them all!
Five minutes later in the car and there was a lyrebird at the side of the road. No need for the bird identity book this time! Then just around the next corner another one ran across the road in front of us, impressive considering I think I’ve only ever seen four or so in the wild!
Rawson caravan park seems huge, a strange place here in a tiny little town — a town that has only existed since the 1970’s when it was built to house workers for the Thompson dam. I’ve no idea what all the visitors do here, probably trail biking and horse-riding in the forests, and boating on the dams. We found a cabin, turned on he heater, then escaped back to “The Stockyard,” a bar, bistro and shop and an enormous hot fire! The temperature fell rapidly as the sun went down!
Moe(-38.1666667,146.2666667), Walhalla(-37.95,146.45), Rawson
- http://www.visitwalhalla.com/: Walhalla and Mountan Rivers