Walhalla: The Valley of the Gods

Tucked in a lush valley in the Victorian Alps, the village of Walhalla is home to only 11 people. A century ago, it was one of the world's richest gold-mining towns, and what remains of it is faithfully preserved, but without a suggestion of theme-park fakery. The gold ran out in 1914 and Walhalla was simply abandoned; today it has the fabulous Star Hotel (tel. 03/5165 6262; fax 03/5165 6261; www.starhotel.com.au), rebuilt in 1999 just after electricity was connected to the town, and a surprising number of things to do. You can take an interesting guided tour of the old gold mine, ride a steam train through lovely bushland, explore the historic cemetery, potter in the small shops and museums, or take a walk along some of the many tracks. Star Hotel owner Michael Leaney will point you in all the right directions. Or you can just hole up in his comfortable, stylish hotel for the weekend. Walhalla is at the end of the Australian Alps Walking Track (which runs 650km/403 miles from Canberra), but the best option for visitors is the 2- day guided 40km (25-mile) walk developed last year by the Star Hotel and nearby Mt. Baw Baw Alpine Resort (www.greatwalhallaalpinetrail.com). Walhalla is also a good stopover point to break the Sydney-Melbourne coastal drive. It is about 180km (112 miles) from Melbourne and is a popular day trip and weekend destination. Walhalla's Star Hotel has 12 air-conditioned guest rooms, all of a good size, some with verandas overlooking the street. There is also a restaurant and bar with wood fires for those chilly nights, a cozy guest lounge with tea- and coffeemaking facilities, a small library (with books and CDs), and a guest computer. Next door, the GreyHorse Café sells snacks and drinks. Rates are A$219 double, including breakfast. No children under 12.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.