Monday, July 18, 2011

Belated birthday glee

My two-day getaway to Walhalla for my birthday last weekend was ace - one of my most memorable birthdays ever. The tiny mountain town is lovely, it was wonderful to have a weekend away with Luke and to wake up with someone special on my birthday.

 Walhalla is quaint, picturesque, quiet and brimming with history. It was love at first sight for me. It's tucked in down in a valley with one winding road in and out, and there's old stuff everywhere! Mining equipment, weathered wagon wheels, old shopfronts, cute cottages, little shacks high on the mountain side (below), remnants of buildings that are long gone (like the Royal Junction Hotel), and,  most spectacular of all, the cemetery spread out across a steep mountainside just as you turn the bend into town. My new camera got a good work out (see Girl in Melbourne for more photos).

A little creek runs through the town, so the soft babbling of water is an ever-present and comforting background noise.  Due to a lack of flat ground, the fire station was built over the creek (below  - it's now a museum rather than a working firestation.) 

On the first day we wandered around the town taking photos and then walked up to the entrance to the  old Long Gully mine overlooking the town.

Me and the faded Long Gully Mine sign

We saw a fungus that looked like a boob.

We went to the "Wally Pub" that night - it looked more like a family home than a pub from the outside - and had a nice country style pub meal for dinner. Nothing too fancy, but cooked well and my T-bone was almost as big as my head. The barman wasn't too chatty until Luke mentioned football (AFL).

The Mountaineer Band Rotunda

There was nothing else doing in town  after we'd finished our meals just after 8.00 pm so we went back to our room. Tis a sleepy town...but I didn't mind.  Our bed and breakfast was perched up on the mountain looking down over the town. I didn't realise this when I booked it, so that was a nice surprise.

Our BnB high on the hill

The room was new and pretty in pastel blue and white.

Early the next morning (early, I said!) after the birthday hugs and kisses, Luke and I pulled on our clothes and went for a walk hoping to see some wildlife foraging. It was a cool, but fine, sunny morning with a soundtrack of bird calls, including one that sounded exactly like a siren.

We walked past the little weatherboard church and were very enthusiastically greeted by a pair of miniature grey poodles out on their morning constitutional as well. We climbed up the mountain to the old cricket ground, which was a fairly challenging walk (for me, anyway). I had to stop a few times to catch my breath and I worked up quite a sweat. I enjoyed it though - fresh air and exercise in the bush before breakfast. The poodles were the only animals we saw. Boo.

Our view, complete with kookas (one real)

When we got back to the BnB our host, Jason, was feeding a group of kookaburras and currawongs on the balcony overlooking the town. The tree out the front was dotted with rosellas and king parrots and there more birds, including wonga pigeons and a chook, down on the lawn. Jason had set up a table for us on the balcony and the birds kept us company as we ate a yummy cooked breakfast. One young kooka didn't budge from his spot on the balcony railing during our meal...OK, they were waiting to be fed; they were indifferent to our company. At one stage a king parrot landed on the guttering above and hung upside down to peer at us.

My eggs benedict

It was so peaceful and picturesque. I was brimming with glee. Luke gave me my present, which was the shark kite I'd asked for. Yay! Haven't had a chance to fly it yet, but hopefully I will this weekend.

After showering and packing up our room, we headed to the cemetery. It's fairly small, but spread out on the mountainside with a bush backdrop. The graves with their white and marble headstones and low rusted fences are arranged in fairly haphazard rows, jutting up out of grass and weeds. Many of the headstones are in surprisingly good shape given they date back to the late 1800s.

Treading carefully on the rudimentary paths and steps, we took photos and read epitaphs - there were a lot of men who died young and families who had buried a succession of very young children, but also the occasional person who made it to their 80s, which would have been positively ancient back then.

After the cemetery Luke and I went for a ride on the goldfields railway, a leisurely jaunt in an old (but well restored) train through the bush, past tree ferns and tall, straight-trunked eucalypts, with the babbling creek always alongside the tracks.

Then, alas, it was time to head off. We made a detour to Thomson Dam, Victoria's largest reservoir and the source of Melbourne's drinking water. It's at over 40% capacity, which doesn't sound like a lot until you consider not long ago it was stagnating at 16% as Victoria endured drought. It's kinda nice to know where the water that comes out of your tap originates from.

We stopped at the general store in Erica for a pie/pastie and sauce for lunch, then hit the road for home. All in all, a wonderful weekend out of town. I'd love to go back again one day.  

I loved this old shed. Had to get a photo in here somewhere.

And this shed. I suppose in such a small town you had
 to be multi-skilled and flexible enough to take on whatever "etc" might be.

The town's pay phone


Anonymous said...

sounds like a really fun weekend.

not sure where i heard this but is it true they had to bury people standing up (ie vertically) in the cemetery because it was so steep?

Frisky Librarian said...

Yeah, it was fun. You're right - some of the people were buried vertically in the steep places.

Alexander Kouker said...

hi, i used one of your images on my blog. hope you don't mind...