Welcome to Walhalla, population twenty
As a child, gold mining towns were exemplified in my mind by boring theme parks populated by out of work actors in naff colonial costumes. My parents used to drag us along in our overheated datsun because they couldn’t afford to take the kids to Disneyland. As often happens, I now appreciate the destinations whose mentions used to prompt a whole lot of whingeing about seatbelt buckle burns and compensation payouts of McDonalds. Walhalla is one such beauty. Set in the misty foothills of Australia’s Baw Baw ranges, it was once a gold era boom-town, but is now home to less than 20 residents (not counting the ghosts).
The last Australian mainland town to join the electricity grid, its name harks back to the Nordic term that means ‘slain in battle’. But the only thing that will attack you in this place is the blow flies on a hot day. You can keep them at bay by cooling off in Stringers Creek that runs through town or enjoying a beer with the locals at the Wally Pub.
If you wish to delay your return to the 21st Century you can pitch a tent under the stars or hire a Walhalla log cabin, which comes with its own gramophone and collection of ragtime 78s.
If you make a start on the Australian Alps walking track, just keep in mind that it’ll take you all the way to Canberra.