Walhalla is a small town in Victoria, about 180 kilometres east of the state capital Melbourne. It is located in the Great Dividing Range, in the steep Stringers Creek valley, approximately four kilometres upstream of the creek's junction with the Thomson River. The area around the town is designated as an historic area which then adjoins the Baw Baw National Park. It was founded as a gold-mining community in early 1863 and at its peak home to around 2,500 residents.
Today, the town has a population of fewer than 20 permanent residents, though it has a large proportion of houses owned as weekenders. It attracts large numbers of tourists and is a major focus of the regional tourism industry. The town's name is taken from an early gold mine in the area, named for the German hall of fame, the Walhalla temple (Valhalla from Norse legend). Gold mining was already becoming largely unprofitable in the early 20th century and the last of the major mines closed in 1914. With the disappearance of the main industry in town, the bulk of the population soon left. Until the growth of the tourist industry in the 1970s and 80s, Walhalla survived as a ghost town for most of the twentieth century.
Several major public buildings including the Mechanics Institute and Star Hotel were destroyed in two fire events in 1944 and 1951 and a number of buildings were destroyed without being rebuilt. The school closed in 1965 and further fires, floods and neglect slowly chipped away at the remains of the town. Since around 1977, Walhalla has experienced something of a renaissance with a booming tourist industry and the restoration or reconstruction of numerous historical buildings in the town, including the Star Hotel, Mechanics Institute, Windsor House, Elliott's Bakery and reconstruction of the Thomson–Walhalla section of the former narrow-gauge railway.
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