Mountain rivers and valleys of gold
The Walhalla & Mountain Rivers region is located on the southern edge of the Australian Alps. Just over two hours to the east of Melbourne or 30 minutes north of the Latrobe Valley, the region is home to the towns of Erica, Rawson and Walhalla. The region is dominated by the natural beauty in the Baw Baw National Park, and surrounding historic and state parks, and state forest with small mountain towns peppered in many of the valleys.
The Walhalla Historic Area combines a beautiful deep mountain valley location with gold-era heritage, and draws people from all over the world to visit what can be described as a real life train set with houses, railway lines and something interesting round every corner.
The heritage story of the Baw Baw and Walhalla areas is a trip back in time to when rugged mountain settlers struggled against almost unbelievable conditions to seek a fortune and create a life. The testing conditions of early exploration are still evident today in the rugged terrain and the colourful stories of the locals.
The nearby ski resort at Mt Baw Baw, the closest ski resort to Melbourne, provides good access to the Baw Baw National Park.
The Australian Alps Walking Track
The Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) has its start right in the heart of the Walhalla township and the walk up into Baw Baw National Park is a great introduction to the full 650 km Track.
The AAWT starts at the Mountain Band Rotunda opposite the Star Hotel and Grey Horse Café in Walhalla. If you walk the whole of the AAWT, don’t forget to ask for your End-to-End Certificate at the Walhalla Museum.
For those wanting a little assistance to commence the Australian Alps Walking Track, the two night experience of the Great Walhalla Alpine Trail links the accommodation at Mt Baw Baw alpine resort via a 2-day guided walk through the Baw Baw National Park to a night in Walhalla and the Star Hotel.
Walks in Baw Baw National Park
Other great walks in the Baw Baw National Park include the strange formation of Mushroom Rocks (3.0 km return from Mt Erica car park), the rolling granite and snow-gum plains around Mt St Gwinear (6.0 km return from Mt St Gwinear car park), and the range of interesting heritage walks around town in the Walhalla Historic Area such as the Poverty Point (old Steel Bridge) Walk. Your can download a map and directions for these walks here (PDF – 1.3 MB).
Walks in the region
If you take a walking tour into the Long Tunnel gold mine in Walhalla you will hear the locals of this small town relate authentic stories of the characters and events that made this place famous.
Driving around the mountains
For those with more time and a desire to explore further into the mountains, the Valleys and Escarpments drive will enable you to take the winding mountain route across to Mansfield. You can either join the Drive at Licola, or take the gravel road north through Aberfeldy to meet the Drive near Mt Skene.
Four wheel driving
In and around the Baw Baw National Park and the nearby Alpine National Park, there are endless opportunities to go four wheel driving through the rugged country the miners scoured for gold in the 1850’s.
One of the best ways of experiencing this country and discovering its stories is to link up with an experienced local tour operator. For more information contact the regional tourism office visitwalhalla.com.
As one of the closest snow-covered areas near Melbourne in winter the Baw Baw National Park is a great place for cross-country skiing and snow play. The adjacent Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort contains in-snow accommodation and downhill skiing opportunities and access via the cross-country skiing trails into the quiet alpine valleys of the Baw Baw Plateau. Snow-shoeing from the resort on the trails in the national park provides a winter snow experience available to all.
If camping against a backdrop of a mountain river cascading over gravel beds and boulders is your thing, then the opportunities in the mountain river valleys are just for you. There are several delightfully remote yet easily accessible car-based camping areas in the tall forests along the Aberfeldy River within the Baw Baw National Park and at Cooper’s Creek on the Thomson River. The campfire smoke rising into the tall eucalypts provides the perfect setting for those seeking to get away from it all.
Canoeing and rafting
White-water enthusiasts will find access points to the Thomson River at Beardmores, Low Saddle and the Narrows within Baw Baw National Park. The best river levels depend on water releases from the Thomson Dam. The grade two and grade three rapids are great fun in canoe, kayak or raft. To join a guided tour or find out about hiring equipment contact the Walhalla and Mountain Rivers tourism office at visitwalhalla.com