This is a delightful easy section following historic tramways linking two of the most beautiful small towns in the world. It perambulates gently through majestic mountain ash and tree fern gullies with splendid views of the awesome Thomson River. It offers numerous opportunities to sightsee, sidetrack or camp.
12 km – @ 4 hours.
NB: Click on the photos to enlarge.
It is 2 km (a bit over half an hour) along the rail trail to the Tyers-Rawson Road or Knotts Siding. The trail exits right at the Walhalla turn-off. There is an information board opposite. It is very easy walking having been an old railway line. It is about 7 km (1.5-2 hours) from there to Thomson Station where you can catch a train sometimes into Walhalla. The times are on the noticeboard: Wed, Sat, Sun Public & Xmas school holidays about three times a day. It costs $15-20, but you may be lucky: http://www.walhallarail.com.au/index.php?EXP=697
Half way (3 km) along the trail (Platina Station – shelter hut) you can turn off and drop down (2 km) to Coopers creek on the Thomson where there is a popular camp ground (toilets, water). The hotel there is now (unfortunately) closed.
From Platina Station you can also take an (approx ½ hour each way) excursion to the ‘Horseshoe Tunnel’ (http://www.visitbawbaw.com.au/walking-cycling/horseshoe-bend-tunnel) a river diversion put in during the early C20th to extract gold from the stream bed (Toilets, water, camp). The whole river was intended to flow through, it thus granting access to any alluvial gold in the river bed.
From Thomson Station to Walhalla Station along the rail trail (watch out for trains!) is about 4 km (1 hour). Walking is not allowed on the railway line. You can walk along the ‘Alpine Walking Track’ what used to be (part of) the Poverty Point Tramline (as we did), or the Mormon Town Track & Telecom Tracks or along the main road. Both start on the true left bank immediately you cross the bridge across the Thomson. There is a trail on either side of the river upstream of the Thomson road bridge. The one on the West bank can be used to access the township of Rawson just couple of kms away (store, hotel – weekends, accommodation etc) , or you may use it if you are avoiding Walhalla and/or walking across the Baw Baw Plateau (in the winter) perhaps. See Winter Route: http://www.finnsheep.com/Track%20Instructions.htm
The trail passes though some magnificent timber (huge mountain ash, vast tree ferns, etc – with magnificent views down to the mighty Thomson River. The trail passes a magnificent dam ten minutes out of Erica. There is also water at Micah Creek between Knotts Siding and Platina (scramble down the gully on the uphill side). You could camp there on the side of the track – as with many spots long the track. Between Thomson Station and Walhalla the track crosses two side gullies which often have water. The trail is wide enough to set up a tent whilst still allowing others to pass. There are few walkers. Lots of people used to camp on the ‘beach’ at the bottom of Stringers Gully (opposite Thomson Bridge/Station ie East bank). You would have to scramble down off the main road after you had crossed the bridge as they seem to have removed the vehicle track…
The township of Walhalla (General Store, Hotel, camp ground, accommodation, etc) is a further 1 km (15 minutes) North from the railway Station up the main street. The Upper Yarra and Alpine Walking Tracks start/end opposite the General Store & Post Office where you will see a huge set of stairs ascending the mountain towards the Long Tunnel Mine. The tracks are not signposted at the main road (mysteriously) but there are signs about 100 metres up the hill, though none mention the Upper Yarra Track! Walhalla seems to be suffering from a fit of amnesia regarding this iconic track, so important to its existence for so long!
There is plenty to see and explore in and around Walhalla. You may want to spend a few days thereabouts. If you have never been there before you are going to be astonished by the beauty (and history) of this quaint old gold mining town nestled in the deep valley of Stringers Creek. Take a look at the cemetery and cricket ground. Maybe do a tour of the Long Tunnel mine. Most of the buildings are authentic mid C19th. Heading out of Walhalla you can divert via Rawson to pick up additional supplies if needed before you tackle the beautiful and awesome Baw Baw Plateau. For example, a side trip via Happy-Go-Lucky to Bruntons Bridge (water, toilets camps) is highly recommended.
The Thomson River is a wonderful canoeing experience (beginning at the Thomson dam outfall). It is 3-4 days of delightful white water interspersed with serene long pools and many campsites before you reach Cowwarr Weir. A day from the dam to the Thomson Bridge. Half a day from Thomson Bridge to Coopers Creek. The section between the Thomson Bridge and Coopers Creek contains a river diversion known as the Horseshoe Tunnel which is not canoeable, requiring a portage of over 1 km (there is a track – easy if you are packrafting!) From Coopers Creek to Bruntons is about half a day, another two days from Bruntons on. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-thomson-river-gippsland-victoria/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/videos/thomson-river-canoe-trip-2006-complete/ (one hour video)
The trail begins just as you enter Erica on the East side of the road opposite the hotel next to a shelter, convenience stop and caravan park and these mementoes of the region’s logging history.
Right on the outskirts of Erica the trail plunges from lush green paddocks replete with fat kine into the enfolding forest.
Minutes out of Erica a lovely dam makes for a refreshing rest stop.
Straightaway you plunge into magnificent mountain ash country: this species is the tallest tree/plant in the world.
The trail is in wonderful condition.
As always the Jack Russels Spot and Tiny lead the way.
Through beautiful tree fern tunnels.
Along the way a very late summer foxglove in a shady nook is a touching reminder of the C19th goldfields women who followed their menfolk to the ends of the earth.
After about 40 minutes the track crosses the Tyers-Rawson Rd to this information point, formally Knotts Siding.
Once again you are plunged into magnificent ash and tree fern. As we were walking this section we heard a sound like a cannonade as one of these giants crashed unexpectedly to the ground. This happens often over summer. Gums are ‘self-pruning’ – a dangerous habit should you be foolish enough to camp underneath one!
The track is wide enough most of its length that two can walk abreast.
After Micah Creek (water, camp) Platina Station marks the turn off for Coopers Creek campground a couple of kilometres away and/or the Horseshoe Tunnel.
The Horseshoe Tunnel diversion track below: as you can see an easy portage if you are packrafting the Thomson.
There are many glimpses of the mighty Thomson River through a screen of trees.
It is a lovely wide well-graded track: easy walking. Spot, as usual is out in front.
Many mementoes of the old Moe-Walhalla line along the way. A fallen bridge.
Abandoned railway tracks.
Road and rail bridges span the river at Thomson Station. You can see from their height how far this river can rise.
The Thomson is a beautiful river to canoe: view upstream from the Thomson road bridge towards the dam (starting point).
After crossing the Thomson, the Mormon Town track on a dry ridge marks a change in vegetation to peppermint gums.
The Australian bush is always a riot of wildlowers. Indeed very few places offer the bewildering array of species you find all about you here.
Native Bugle flower.
Native trigger flower: a carnivorous variety.
This is a wild cherry. It is a parasitic plant with an edible fruit (hence the name). It is only one of two trees in the world which bears its nuts outside its fruit (hence ‘exocarpus’), the other being the pecan.
The Poverty Point tramline was in many places hacked out of a near vertical hillside. The main road is about fifty metres below – straight down!
Early glimpses of Walhalla through the trees: below the new ‘Visitor’s Centre’.
Early settlers could not quite believe Australian Eucalypts, a dominant genera in today’s landscape as they kept their leaves whilst shedding their bark. Another annoying habit they have is turning their leaves to avoid the sun, thus casting little shade on a hot day.
There are some majestic examples in the wetter gullies. Hard to believe that a hundred years ago there was not s single tree growing within thirty kilometres of Walhalla – so great was its voracious appetite for wood! They are quite quick growing. Trees which sprang up from seeds after the 1939 fires had trunks which made a single semi-trailer load a mere fifty years later.
Spot really enjoys a walk. He is way ahead of Della here.
The road goes ever on and on…That is bark on the track, though we did see a small snake and a water dragon at the river crossing – and at least fifty species of birds!
Someone had removed one of the forbidden things on the sign. Tiny cannot believe it was ‘dogs’. We saw indications that both horses and pushbikes have also ‘strayed’ onto this lovely track. Someday no doubt such misdeeds will be a capital offence! Or forgotten quite.
At trail’s end Walhalla lies nestled in the valley of Stringers Creek. The General Store is centre; the old Post Office on the right. The staircase on the far left marks the beginning/end of the trail.
The Vicmap for this section is Walhalla South T8122-2-S
Mobile Phone works beautifully until you plunge downhill towards the Thomson River. SMS may still work. You will come back into mobile range after you leave Walhalla and begin the climb up from the Thomson River after the Poverty Point bridge.
See also Upper Yarra Track Winter Route: