Hidden in a deep mountain valley just 2 1/2 hours from Melbourne, the historic gold mining town of Walhalla is a fascinating destination to visit. It’s also surprising dog-friendly! Read on to find out what you can get up to with your dog on a visit to Walhalla…
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Walhalla
Despite being just a village these days, there’s a surprisingly amount of things to do in Walhalla, especially for lovers of history. And nearly all of the attractions welcome dogs to join you!
1. Ride the Walhalla Goldfields Railway
One of the highlights of a visit to Walhalla is a ride on the historic Walhalla Goldfields Railway. The train track to Walhalla was only completed in 1910, four years before the closure of the main mines left Walhalla a ghost town. For many years the line was left abandoned and the rails pulled up, but in 1994 its reconstruction was begun, with the line reopening in 2002.
It’s a scenic trip along the 4km-long section of track between Walhalla and Thomson stations, winding through the narrow gorge beside Stringers Creek and crossing eight bridges along the way. The journey takes about 20 minutes in each direction, with the most popular option being a return journey that lasts about one hour in total, including the stopping time at Thomson.
Train trips operate Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, as well as daily during most school holidays, except during the July school holidays. Three journeys per day depart Walhalla station, except for during winter when only two trips operate.
Best of all well-behaved dogs are welcome to join you for free! When arriving at the station, a sign indicated they would need to ride in the guard carriage, but at least on quiet days the crew are very welcoming and relaxed. My dog and the other dog on our trip were a little concerned at first due to the noisy old train, but settled down for the return trip.
Check out more historic train rides in Australia that allow dogs on board
2. Head Underground on the Long Mine Extended Tour
A ride on an historic train isn’t the only tour option that’s dog-friendly in Walhalla. One of the other big attractions in Walhalla is the chance to head underground on a tour of the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine.
Tours of this gold mine take place daily, with a single tour on weekdays but three tours per day on weekends, public holidays and during school holidays. The tours last for 45 minutes and take place in the original gold mine workings, where an impressive 13.7 tonnes of gold was produced until the mine closed in 1914. Along the way you’ll hear fascinating stories of what it was like to work in the gold mine.
I was quite surprised that dogs were allowed to join you on the tour, but the tour runs in a relatively flat tunnel, and during its original operation was home to pit ponies. Some dogs might be reluctant to walk inside the dark space and the floor can be wet, so I held my small dog for the duration of the tour, and he was very well behaved.
3. Take a Self-Guided Tour Through Town
While in Walhalla, it’s a must to take a wander through the village and discover it’s history. There’re over 30 signs installed along the way that explain the history of individual buildings and the overall town’s story, sharing interesting facts and fascinating old photos.
To complete the entire Walhalla Heritage Walk, with signs dotting the 2.5km stretch of road in between Walhalla Station and the Chinese Gardens Camping Area, allow about 3 hours. Alternatively, stop and read the signs as you see them when strolling around Walhalla and seeing the other sights. Pick up a brochure with a map around town or at Walhalla Station.
In particular, I recommend taking the time to wander around the old centre of town near the present day Stringer’s Park. And of course dogs are welcome to join you!
4. Walk Along the Tramline Walkway
Another fascinating short walk in the centre of Walhalla is the Tramline Walkway. From opposite the old post office, walk up the steps on the hillside opposite to the flat trail where a tramline once ran to the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine.
The walking trail is a flat 700m and takes 10 to 15 minutes to the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine. It’s a handy option for walking one way to the mine to embark on a tour, although there’s also a road leading to the mine with a carpark adjacent. There’s also another path from the Tramline Walkway back down to the main road near the Masonic Lodge.
Even if you don’t follow the entire trail, it’s still worthwhile climbing the hill to reach the lookout at the start of the Walkway, with beautiful views down across the village.
5. Or Take a Longer Alpine Walk
Walhalla is also notable as the starting point of the incredible Australian Alps Walking Track, a 655km long-distance walking track that traverses the alpine regions of Victoria and NSW to near Canberra. The starting point is just above the village leading in the opposite direction from the Tramline Walkway.
Not that you need to walk even a fraction of its enormous distance to enjoy the walking track. If you’re just wanting a day walk, the first 5km stretch will take you to Thomson Station, or walk for 8km to reach the historic Poverty Point Bridge. Naturally allow plenty of time to return to your starting point unless you organise a car shuffle.
Dog-Friendly Parks in Walhalla
Unfortunately, there are no designated off-leash areas in Walhalla. You need to keep your dog on a leash throughout the village, unless you are staying at a private property with a fenced yard.
In the nearby town of Rawson, there are two designated off-leash areas. The first is St Phillack Reserve, except for the access ways from St Phillack Crescent, Stander Drive and Jordan Circuit. Secondly, there is an off-leash area on the western side of Dunstan Oval. Neither of these are fenced, although the former is hemmed in by houses.
Dog-Friendly Dining in Walhalla
If you visit mid-week outside of holiday times like I did, you will likely find most of the cafes in Walhalla closed. It’s probably best to bring your own picnic, with plenty of day visitor facilities and BBQs dotted throughout the valley.
One of the few open options when I visited was the Wally Pub, near the bottom end of the valley. Although I didn’t visit, they have a beer garden with outdoor tables that is surely dog-friendly.
Other cafes scattered throughout the valley that have outdoor seating include the Miner’s Cafe (which had a water bowl on the verandah and a sign advertising scones) and Kitty’s Cafe (next to the Corner Stores and museum).
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Walhalla
One of the most popular dog-friendly accommodation options in Walhalla is the North Gardens Camping Area, a free camping ground located at the northern end of town with basic facilities. However, at the time of my visit the site was still closed for reconstruction works following storms, along with the nearby paid Chinese Gardens Camping Area. Hopefully it will be reopened by the end of 2021.
A few of the holiday cottages dotted around Walhalla are pet-friendly, including Sancreed Cottage and Creek Cottage. Both of these cottages have two bedrooms and can sleep up to four humans, plus have a fully fenced yard. Enquire in advance for permission for your dog; a small additional fee may be applicable.
One of the nearest caravan parks to Walhalla is the Erica Caravan Park, a 20 minute drive away. Dogs are allowed on camping sites only, not in cabins. It’s an immaculately kept caravan park, with excellent facilities and reasonable rates.
Alternatively, for more accommodation options it’s just a 45 minute drive to the large town of Traralgon. Despite reports, the road to Walhalla is no longer as bad as it used to be, plus there is now mobile phone service in the valley.