Day 3 – Walhalla Goldfields Train

The idea of continental breakfast has never been that appealing to me. Most times even a badly cooked bacon and eggs has more interest then the continental. But Walhalla’s Star Hotel might have converted me. They had the usual cereal, yoghurt and toast but added to that was real fairtrade coffee, croissants and the most incredible dried fruit rehydrated in sugar water. Yum.
After breakfast Pauline and I set off to walk the Tramline walkway to the Thompson Station and catch the Walhalla Goldfields Train back. We started off around 10am by walking across the street and heading up the side of the mountain. You get an incredible aerobic workout even before you have gotten to the walkway because the steps are so step and many. Pauline said she was glad she’d asked if the walk was flat before we set off because those steps would have stopped her from continuing.


At the top of steps there were signs but none of them indicated the way to Thompson Station. Thankfully I’d seen on the map that we needed to turn left, but it was until the end of the walk an hour and a half later that Pauline finally believed me. The walk took us high above the town of Walhalla and gave us glimpses of the creek and road. Mostly it is flat so it’s very easy, but it does become monotonous in places. Since it had rained that morning my white shoes suffered from the mud a little. We followed what used to be an old Tramway line (but there is nothing but the name really to indicate that now) for 4kms until we reached the sign saying “Thompson Station, 600m”. Pauline and I jumped for joy as we were nearing the end of our interest at that point until we saw the steep descent.
The road had been made for four wheel drives so we spent most of our time with our backs 45 degrees to the track. Paulines shoes were filled with clay as we slowly headed down – fretting the whole time about missing the train. I’d say it took us about 15 mins to walk down. At the end, Pauline said that if the train wasn’t running today then there was no way she was going back up that hill. I reckon she took half the clay with her in her shoes – which she later made a huge mess with right at the front door of the train station. So embarrassing. We finally reached the main road and crossed the bridge to get to the station.
At the entrance to Thompson Station there were a group of people leaving and I overheard them say that they would go and get a coffee in Walhalla. I thought that maybe we had missed the train and they were going back to town to finish off. What I discovered was a note from “Tiny” informing whoever wanted to read the note that there was a tree across the line and they were out clearing it. The note had been written at 10.05am and we arrived around 11.15am so they obviously hadn’t finished clearing. There were other people waiting around and since we were so buggered from the walk we weren’t going anywhere either. Some people who were also staying at the hotel also arrived after doing the walk and said that they weren’t going back up there.
I took numerous photos of the two bridges as we waited anxiously for the train to turn up. Finally we heard the exhilirating sound of the train horn as it returned over the bridge. Everyone ran towards it with joy and to take photos. It was only the engine with logs from the fallen tree but either way we were glad to see it. Tiny got off and quickly set up the station to sell us tickets while the other guys put the carriages on the train. They were efficient in the way they did everything and before we know it were taking off over the bridge that I’d taken so many pictures of.
On the train Pauline had a good chat with the conductor since we had a whole carriage to ourselves. I spent the the entire time with my head out the window taking photos. The train winded it’s way through the valley of the mountain just above the creek. We slowed down where the tree had fallen and discovered it was massive and brought a lot of rocks down with it. The end of the trip sees the train going over 6 bridges before it pulls in to Walhalla Station. The whole journey takes about 20 mins and is much more comfortable than the walk to Thompson Station. The station is very pretty.
Leaving the station we made the 15 minute walk back in to town and finally got to check out the rest of Walhalla. The walk took us past the cemetery on the hill, two guys panning for gold in the creek, the old bakehouse and the deserted post office. Once again the town had it’s beauty and uniqueness on display and just made me fall in love with this little village. I wouldn’t want to live there but as a getaway destination it’s incredible. We spent the afternoon hanging around the hotel reading books and raiding their cd library.
For dinner we decided to try the cafe we’d seen in town so we rugged up and headed out in to the street. We turned straight back around again when we discovered that it was pitch black outside. Pauline got her torch and we set off for our destination. This gave all the people dining in the hotel something to look at as we shined our light around. Within a few short minutes we were back cause the cafe was shut. At that point we decided to leave Walhalla and try Rawston for dinner. We took a chilly ride up the mountain to find a deserted town offering nothing. We finally saw an sign for a bistro at a caravan park so we tried our luck there. Down a quiet road we thought we weren’t in luck but eventually found the Stockyards. This place explained why the town was quiet because everyone was here! The tables were so full we had to sit at a barrel and eat our dinner. It was pretty good value and worth the trip up the mountain. Then it was back down to Walhalla for our last night on holidays.

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