Location: Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort to Walhalla
Surface: Mostly compacted earth with some sections of fine gravel or sealed
Grade: Difficult (4)
Open: There are no seasonal closures, although walkers should be aware that sections of the trail are often covered with snow in winter
Fees: Free, camping fees may apply
Wheelchair accessible: No
More information: greatwalhallaalpinetrail.com
With a summit at one end and a river valley at the other, you can choose from two very different experiences on the Great Walhalla Alpine Trail – the traditionalists’ uphill route or the downhill route over a plateau to the historic tiny town of Walhalla.
The Great Walhalla Alpine Trail offers a very abridged taste of the epic 650-kilometres Australian Alpine Walking Track. It links the historic mining township of Walhalla to the pristine snowgum environment of the Baw Baw National Park plateau and its nearby resort village.
The two-day end-to-end itinerary journeys through alpine plains alive with native wildflowers, twisted snowgums, towering mountain ash, and pre-historic myrtle beech. Hikers pass through the wonderland of geological formations at Mushroom Rocks, see the ruins of Talbot Peak hut, cross mountain streams and wild rivers, pass through fern groves and, of course, get to know the timber and gold heritage of Walhalla.
The Walhalla starting point
Those seeking summit rewards begin in Walhalla, where a quick walk up the main street takes in the Long Tunnel Extended Mine, before linking onto the tramway that benches high above the town. This flat path weaves around the valley contours giving excellent views back over the township.
The trail sweeps around the spur to slowly descend towards the mighty Thomson River and a crossing at Point Poverty Bridge. This marks the first serious climb, with a steep section leading up Fingerboard Spur to a crossing of the Thomson Valley Road.
There is brief respite with a descent to O’Sheas Mill, a pretty creekside site where you can camp, although facilities are limited.
Get set for a steep climb
The major climb of the hike begins at the small creek crossing, with the trail rising steeply through stands of giant eucalypt and fern undergrowth, eventually popping out on a dirt road to the Mt Erica Car Park halfway point. Here the environment begins to transform as you climb higher; the bigger forest transitioning to alpine heathland, grassy plains and on into the gnarled stands of snowgum as you get closer to Baw Baw.
One of the walk highlights is Mushroom Rocks, a ‘garden’ of giant granite tors two kilometres from the car park. Although the campsite has no facilities, it makes an ideal spot for an enchanting overnight stay.
Granite tors, ruined huts, impressive views
From Mushroom Rocks, the trail continues its steep ascent to Mt Erica. Beyond the summit you pass the old Talbot Peak hut ruins, just a short distance off the main trail. The trail undulates along the plateau, cumulatively rising towards the peaks of Mt St Gwinear (a 1.5-kilometre return side trip that's worth it for views) and Mt St Phillack.
After St Phillack saddle, the Australian Alpine Walking Track continues on north towards its Canberra terminus, while the Great Walhalla Alpine Trail turns left on a link trail to the rear of Baw Baw Alpine Resort. A final short climb reaches the Baw Baw summit and then it’s down to the resort village for a celebration at the restaurant bar.
The alternative trip
If you prefer a (slightly) less challenging walk, make Baw Baw the beginning point and walk towards Walhalla, where there are also plenty of creature comforts, notably the historic Star Hotel.
Suggested shorter options
Baw Baw Resort to St Gwinear, 14km return
From the Mt Baw Baw Resort, take a steady climb on cross-country ski trails to the summit and Muellers Lookout with its view across to Mt St Phillack. Entering the Baw Baw National Park, the walk climbs gently to the plateau, greeting the Australian Alpine Walking Trail. Heading south, it’s a two-kilometre undulating walk out to St Gwinear with sensational views north over the Alps.
Walhalla to Poverty Point Bridge, 16km return; or Walhalla to Thomson Station, 12km returning by the Walhalla Goldfields Railway train
From Walhalla's Star Hotel, walk up the main street toward the Long Tunnel Extended Mine. From the mine entrance, double back along the old tramway, paying attention to the informative signs that describe the history of the area. Walkers can out-and-back to Poverty Point Bridge, or cross the bridge and follow the walking path downstream on the western side of the river to catch the Walhalla Goldfields Railway train from Thomson Station back to Walhalla.
Trains operate Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and more often in holiday periods. Full timetable at walhallarail.com.au.
Mt Erica car park to Mushroom Rocks, 3km return
Take the trail north from Mt Erica car park through giant forest stands and fern gullies to eventually reach the striking granite boulder garden that is Mushroom Rocks, a perfect place to picnic. Continue up the mountain to Mt Erica and a little further beyond are the ruins of Talbot Peak Hut.
Things to do
Mount Baw Baw
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