Walhalla is a small town in Victoria, Australia, founded as a gold-mining community in the late 19th century and at its peak home to around 3000 residents. The town has a 2005 population of around 20 permanent residents, though it attracts large numbers of tourists and is a major focus of the regional tourism industry. The town’s name is taken from an early gold mine in the area, named for the German hall of fame, the Walhalla temple (Valhalla from Norse legend).
Walhalla is located in South-East Australia, in the eastern Victorian region of Gippsland, about 180 kilometres from the state capital Melbourne. It is located in the Great Dividing Range, in the steep Stringers Creek valley, approximately six kilometers upstream of the creek’s junction with the Thomson River. The area around the town is designated as an historic area, adjoining the Baw Baw National Park.
Owing to the confined space in which the town finds itself, the majority of buildings are located along one main street which follows the creek through the valley until it splits into two branches at the northern end of the town centre. In the late nineteenth century the town also sported a number of ‘suburbs’, situated on the mountain peaks above the valley.
The history of Walhalla is closely linked to the history of gold in Victoria. The first gold had been found in Victoria in 1851, leading to the Victorian gold rush. By 1859 prospectors had pushed far east of Melbourne into the trackless wilderness of the Great Dividing Range. Major gold strikes on the Jordan River encouraged other prospectors to follow the nearby Thomson River in their search for the valuable metal.