I woke up in Walhalla, somewhat disoriented after arriving in the dark, and stepped outside. Unfortunately, my habit of bringing English weather wherever I go with me, resulted in my first sight being of misty rain flowing down the mountain in front of me.
I sat down for breakfast with Tom and Jill, and procedded to talk about Walhalla and its history. Walhalla started out as a gold mining town in the late 1800's. It spawned many mines, and at its peak had over 4000 people living in the town.
Today, the town has around 20 residents and is an area of historical importance to Victoria. Throughout the 1800's and 1900's, the town has been repeatedly ravaged by fire, resulting in almost all of the original buildings being destroyed, the land they occupied reclaimed by vegitation and trees.
As the area is deemed a heritage site, all new buildings in the area must adhere to strict design and construction guidelines (often resulting in disputes with the local council). Tom and Jill purchased their land and began construction on the plot in late 2003. They desiged and constructed their house to directly resemble the house that stood on the same plot of land over 100 years previous. The innards of the house are pristine, and all in keeping with the time and style of the period.
After breakfast we went for a walking tour of Walhalla. The village now is surrounded in forest, which is almost remarkable given that 100 years ago any vegitation had been completely felled for use down the mine, in construction, or simply as firewood. Walking down the main street leads to various houses, a community post office (merged with museum), some shops, a few Bed and Breakfasts, and towards the lower side of town, a helipad for emergency evacuation.
The town is very picturesque and serene, with little noise save for the passing tourists at the communal BBQ site around half way down the village. It is a very lovely place to visit, and if you are the kind of person who enjoys a break from the world and all its noise, I thoroughly recommend it.
After heading back to the house for lunch, we headed to the Thomson river to go kayaking. Despite my complete failure at paddling in unison with Tom, we managed to get around 1Km up-stream before hitting a tough current and heading back. Jill happily snapped photos of us from her deck chair on a portion of the river bed that had dried up.
Late afternoon we headed back, got cleaned up and went out to eat at the 'Wally pub'. When I say pub, think more american mid-west bar than british pub. The people were very friendly, and the food was lovely - the 'Chicken Walhalla' definitely comes recommended. It's a fillet of chicken, breadcrumbed, with layers of bacon, advacardo and cheese over the top. Fantatastic!
After dining out, we headed back once again to Tom and Jills, and talked late on into the night. It was a truely fantastic day, and I am so thankful and appreciative to Tom and Jill!