Gold was discovered by Ned Stringer on Boxing Day 1862. Quickly the word spread and gold seekers flocked to the harsh mountains to find their fortune. In the first few years of the settlement (then known as "Stringers Creek") conditions were pretty desperate, people came close to starvation and cold winters took their toll.
One of the first mines to become successful was the "Walhalla" mine, which was named by its Scandinavian mine manager after "Walhalla" in Norse mythology The Valley of the Gods and home to slain heroes. Obviously he felt that "Walhalla" was indeed a gift from the gods. The success of the "Walhalla Mine" attracted even more people to the area to search for gold. "I'm off to the Walhalla" they would say, and it was because of the initial success of the Walhalla Mine that the town's name was changed to Walhalla within a few years of gold being discovered.At the height of the gold-era, Walhalla was a bustling frontier town with over 2,500 residents. More than 75 tonnes of gold was removed from Cohens Reef which runs deep below the town. The richest mine was the Long Tunnel in the centre of town. Over 50 tonnes of gold was removed from this one mine.In its heyday, Walhalla was home to 10 hotels, 3 breweries and 7 churches.(see Historic photos)The Star Hotel, located at the Junction directly opposite the historic Band Rotunda, was Walhallas most famous gold-era hotel. It was the terminus for the Cobb & Co. Coach that serviced Walhalla until 1910 when the railway finally arrived in town.Unfortunately the railway arrived too late for Walhalla. It was meant to bring prosperity, however the mines had all closed by 1915 and the railway provided a cheap and easy form of transport to carry away nearly all of the town's building and machinery. By the early 1920s only of skeleton of the "gold-era" Walhalla remained and the decline continued until the 1980s.The original Star Hotel and IOOF Hall were destroyed by fire in December 1951 and Walhalla lost its heart. In the past 30 years, a new appreciation for Australian history has seen Walhalla become a popular tourist attraction with over 100,000 people visiting the town each year. The town's unique mountain location and picturesque streetscape with exotic trees and cute cottages is an irresistible combination.Today building are being restoredand new replica buildings (like Walhalla's Star Hotel) are being built to replace building lost over the last century. Walhalla Historic Township's population currently stands at 12, a far cry from the 2,500 plus that lived in the "Valley of the Gods" 100 years ago.