On the track of his­tory

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - GOLD-RUSH TALES -

Gipp­s­land’s Aberfeldy Track puts an ex­cit­ing new self-drive ad­ven­ture on the map. Jennifer Adams took the drive

THERE are many great drives across Aus­tralia, but not many as in­trigu­ing as Gipp­s­land’s Aberfeldy Track. It has all the el­e­ments of a thrilling off-road ad­ven­ture – rugged, unsealed roads through spec­tac­u­lar scenery, mixed with fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries and rem­nants of the gold-rush era.

The track is home to some of the most un­touched gold­min­ing his­tory in Vic­to­ria and many of its trea­sures have been hid­den from the world – un­til now.

Be­fore we get on the track, our jour­ney be­gins in the gold- min­ing town of Wal­halla. An easy 2½ -hours’ drive east of Mel­bourne, nes­tled in the Stringers Creek Val­ley, known as the “Val­ley of the Gods”.

To­day, it is filled with lush trees and the sound of the creek run­ning through, a stark con­trast to the gold-min­ing days of the 1860s, when the en­tire area was stripped bare of any trees and you would have heard the sound of the wa­ter wheel run­ning 24 hours a day.

Walk­ing along the main street, it feels as if we’ve stepped back in time to when Wal­halla was one of the rich­est gold- min­ing ar­eas in the state. Even the orig­i­nal bank vault is a re­minder of the town’s for­tune.

When the rush was over in 1915, ev­ery­one packed up and moved on and the town was pretty much left aban­doned for 70 to 80 years, so it es­caped de­vel­op­ment. It wasn’t un­til the 1970s when com­mu­ni­ties had more of an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia’s her­itage that people started com­ing back to re­store the build­ings.

The town is a blend of orig­i­nal fa­cades and those that have been repli­cated, but it’s hard to tell which is which. In

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