With a summit at one end and a river valley at the other, you can choose from two very different experiences on the Great Walhalla Alpine Trail – the traditionalists’ uphill route or the downhill route over a plateau to the historic tiny town of Walhalla.
The Great Walhalla Alpine Trail offers a very abridged taste of the epic 650-kilometres Australian Alpine Walking Track. It links the historic mining township of Walhalla to the pristine snowgum environment of the Baw Baw National Park plateau and its nearby resort village.
The two-day end-to-end itinerary journeys through alpine plains alive with native wildflowers, twisted snowgums, towering mountain ash, and pre-historic myrtle beech. Hikers pass through the wonderland of geological formations at Mushroom Rocks, see the ruins of Talbot Peak hut, cross mountain streams and wild rivers, pass through fern groves and, of course, get to know the timber and gold heritage of Walhalla.
The Walhalla starting point
Those seeking summit rewards begin in Walhalla, where a quick walk up the main street takes in the Long Tunnel Extended Mine, before linking onto the tramway that benches high above the town. This flat path weaves around the valley contours giving excellent views back over the township.
The trail sweeps around the spur to slowly descend towards the mighty Thomson River and a crossing at Point Poverty Bridge. This marks the first serious climb, with a steep section leading up Fingerboard Spur to a crossing of the Thomson Valley Road.
There is brief respite with a descent to O’Sheas Mill, a pretty creekside site where you can camp, although facilities are limited.
Get set for a steep climb
The major climb of the hike begins at the small creek crossing, with the trail rising steeply through stands of giant eucalypt and fern undergrowth, eventually popping out on a dirt road to the Mt Erica Car Park halfway point. Here the environment begins to transform as you climb higher; the bigger forest transitioning to alpine heathland, grassy plains and on into the gnarled stands of snowgum as you get closer to Baw Baw.
One of the walk highlights is Mushroom Rocks, a ‘garden’ of giant granite tors two kilometres from the car park. Although the campsite has no facilities, it makes an ideal spot for an enchanting overnight stay.