"I'm going for a weekend away to Walhalla!"
"Hang on, isn't it me that's always wanted to go there and you always say no?"
"Oh, um, er..."
That's how the conversation went when I told Steve of my plans. It's true: he's often talked of going to Walhalla, a small town in the Gippsland region here in Victoria, after hearing great things about it from friends. To me, there was always somewhere else to go, other things to see - things that perhaps seemed a little more exciting.
To my credit, I do admit when I'm proved wrong. And oh, how wrong I was!
When I say Walhalla is a small town, I mean small: just ten people live here. Several more live in the surrounding towns and drive in to run businesses (accommodation and eateries for the most part).
I was lucky enough to be in wonderful company on this girls' weekend away, and the four of us - Louisa, Claire, Toushka and me - drove into Walhalla with whispered 'wow's as lyrebirds ran in front of us, the kookaburras laughed and the scenery turned from lovely to stunning. We spent our weekend exploring the local sights:
Take the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine tour. This mine operated from 1863 to 1914, and holds the key to Walhalla's heyday.
Explore the town's history - there are signs around the town and people to chat to who help you learn more about the town as it was. One thing that staggered me was how sparse the town was of trees and bushland during its mining days. Looking at it now, it's hard to believe it was once like this.
The Goldfields Railway - another must-do, this train takes you through the most beautiful bushland. Come here in August for the Walhalla Vinter Ljusfest and the train heads out at night, with beautiful lights over the treetops and rock walls.
The Vinter Ljusfest (Winter Light Festival, inspired by the town's Nordic origins), which
sees Walhalla lit up each during August - and it's a beautiful sight.
(This image from Destination Gippsland.)
Explore the cemetery, cut into the hillside, to discover the stories of the people who made this town.
Find somewhere lovely to stay - we were hosted by the Star Hotel (whose owner,
Michael, was fantastic with showing us around and letting his passion for Walhalla
shine through) and there are also other nice spots around the town, from camping to
beautiful original buildings set up as cottages or B&Bs.
Enjoy a good country meal (the Star Hotel had wonderful food and although we didn't
eat at the Wally Pub, I loved the look of it and heard great reports from others).
Not to mention all manner of day-trips possible from and around here. I have it on good authority that the Erica pub cooks steak to perfection, that Mt Baw Baw during ski season is lots of fun, that the bushwalking is wonderful (next time, I want to see Mushroom Rocks!), and we enjoyed stopping at Yarragon for food and browsing the local produce available.
All this, only about 2 hours drive from the Melbourne CBD.
And of course, we all know I'll be heading back. Steve is now more
But although visitors to Walhalla love to see and do all these things, there's more to this town than sightseeing... (more coming soon!)
Enormous thanks to Brand Meets Blog, Destination Gippsland, Walhalla's Star Hotel for hosting and looking after us, and my lovely fellow roadtrippers - Louisa, Claire and Toushka - for making the trip so enjoyable. Even bigger thanks to nature for providing the inspiration that is Gippsland.