On the track of history
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