Use +/- to open/close panes.


Erica township centre
ERICA

Erica township, current population about 110,  is a typical bush settlement about 30 km north of Moe and 135 km east of Melbourne.

The ‘timber town’ styled Erica Hotel and the local-history themed 1914 Café are both licensed and offer dining surrounded by mementos from the past. Both also offer take-aways, as does the Erica General Store and Bakery.

During the season, pick-your-own berries may be offered and Erica’s famous potatoes are available from roadside stalls while stocks last.

For snow enthusiasts, Erica Ski Hire is the only place for chains, skis and toboggans.

Motel units are attached to the Erica Hotel and the Erica Caravan Park has great level camping sites as well as modern cabins. Nearby Rawson and Walhalla also offer accommodation.

There is a medium sized Public Hall for hire and the district Pre-School is also located in the township.

SOME ERICA DISTRICT HISTORY

In the 1860’s gold had been found in the mountains near Walhalla. From the late 1800s selectors were attracted to the adjacent plateau area and established market gardens on the fertile red soil to supply Walhalla with produce. The district became known as Moondarra, and the area around present Erica as Upper Moondarra.

A small township had begun to develop in 1906 while a railway line was being constructed and several stores, as well as a Post Office, were established.  The area was surveyed and streets were laid out in 1908.

In 1910, the narrow gauge railway between Moe and Walhalla was opened. The station at Upper Moondarra was renamed Harris, in honour of Albert Harris, the local parliamentarian who had promoted the line. But in 1914, due to postal confusion with Harris River in West Australia, the settlement was again renamed, this time to Erica, after nearby Mount Erica and the native heath which is common in the area.

A school had operated in the area since 1881 but in 1912 a new building was constructed in the township. A Union Church was established in 1914 in a building moved from Walhalla. The hotel was licensed in 1915.

There had been some sawmilling in the area from the early 1900s, but from the 1920’s Erica became the centre of a thriving timber industry. In the 1930’s there were 13 sawmills working in the vicinity of Erica, which had 208 inhabitants in 1933.

Narrow gauge tramways through the bush were constructed to bring the timber to Erica and other nearby sidings.  Most of these tramways had wooden ‘rails’, but two were of steel construction. One of these, running into the Tyers Valley to the west, served six sawmills around Caringal at its peak. The other, running into the Thomson Valley to the north, was about 40 km in length. The planks, palings, sleepers , shingles and other products were then loaded on to the narrow gauge Walhalla to Moe train before again being transferred to the Gippsland line for transportation to Melbourne and other destinations.

Erica was threatened by serious bushfires every few years. After the 1939 fires, the State sawmill was constructed at Erica to salvage the burnt timber. This site is now called Mill Park, but nothing of the mills remain.

Walhalla was already in decline when the railway opened. In 1944, the northern part of the line was closed and by 1952, trains only ran as far as Erica. Timber was still the main commodity carried, but lime from nearby Cooper’s Creek, dairy produce,  and potatoes from the surrounding farming district were also important.

In the 1950s the timber industry began to decline, with many sawmills closing. In 1953, the State timber mill was destroyed by fire. The loss of its weekly loading of timber led to the complete closure of the rail line the next year. The mill was rebuilt but the timber was hauled by road. The area’s last operating sawmill, owned by the Micah family, is located just north of Erica on the road to Rawson.

In the early 1900s, a walking track between Warburton and Walhalla passed over Mount Erica to the north of the town .  In the 1930s, the Rover Scout crew from Yallourn cleared ski runs, started a ski club, prepared maps and built a hut at Mushroom Rocks. The access road is still maintained and is suitable for most 2WD vehicles. A development association promoted the mountain as a ski resort, but this was abandoned in 1944 when a road was cut close to the summit of Mount Baw Baw, thus allowing that higher altitude ski-field to be developed instead.

Mount St Gwinear, near Mount Erica, now has a road as far as the snow line and is popular for cross country skiing and tobogganing. The Alpine Walking Track, beginning at Walhalla, follows the old route over Mount Erica.

An annual Axemens’ Carnival began in 1921 and woodchoppers competed for the title of King of the Mountain. A typical sized log placed on a timber bogie attached to a converted rail-tractor stand as a memorial to the bush workers. The Erica hotel dining room has on display saws, axes and other equipment used in the past.

Some of the old tramways,  as well as the route of the rail line from Erica north to Thomson Station, have been cleared and are interesting walking tracks.

Erica has a hall, a general store/bakery, a hotel/motel, a recreation reserve, a caravan park, Café, ski and chain hire and a Kindergarten. The school closed in 1993 with the children then attending the newer Rawson primary school, only 4 km distant. Part of the Erica school was moved to the Rawson school site and has been used as an arts centre.

Although only about 110 people now live in the actual township,  another 200 or so in the surrounding farming areas increase the official population. The Erica district census populations have been:

census date population
1921 285
1933 681*
1947 490**
1954 366
1961 349
1966 265
     2006*** 247
2011 324
* includes 373 in forest sawmills etc, ** includes 47 in forest sawmills etc, ***different area
(Source: ‘Erica’, Victorian Places, 2014, www.victorianplaces.com.au/erica, 01Oct2018)

 

 
 
 
 
 
Leaflet, © OpenStreetMap contributo
RAWSON

The township of Rawson is 4 km north of Erica, 37 km north of Moe and Traralgon, and some 135 km east of Melbourne. Rawson is the largest of the townships in Gippsland’s Mountain Rivers Region, despite being very much the most recent.

In late 2018 there were about 350 permanent residents living in Rawson, but also a significant number of homes and caravan park cabins used as ‘weekenders’. Holiday weekends attract large numbers to Rawson’s two excellent caravan parks and when the 300+ bed Rawson Village Convention Centre is also in use, the town population can approach 800.

Also located in the township are a Community Health Centre, Police Station, SES Unit and the Erica and District  Historical Society. The CFA and DELWP both have facilities at nearby Parkers Corner. The Rawson Primary School adjoins the wildlife haven known to locals as Crater Lake, around which the town was laid out.

Rawson has a  Post Office and General Store which offers a good range of frozen food and other essentials, as well as take-away snacks and alcohol. 

Open on weekends, the Rawson Caravan Park’s Stockyard Hotel is Rawson’s only dine-in venue and features an ‘outback’ décor.

Both Caravan Parks offer RV and camping sites as well as cabin accommodation. A public RV Dump Point is located on Pinnacle Drive, near the Rawson Police Station.

Rawson’s sporting facilities include a full size indoor basketball/sports stadium, seasonal heated swimming pool with gymnasium, tennis court, a  sports ground with modern pavilion/hall, basic bmx track and the nature based crater lake walking track. A Skate Park is planned for the area adjacent to the shopping centre. 

The area is popular for horse riding, 4WD activity, trail bike riding, fishing, white water rafting and bushwalking. The Erica-Thomson rail trail and the Thomson River are east of the town. Rawson is also an excellent base for winter recreation with the South Face road offering easy access to Mt Baw Baw ski resort and Mt St Gwinear’s toboggan runs.

SOME RAWSON HISTORY

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works built the town to house workers involved in the construction of the Thomson Dam. Stage one of the Thomson project, a tunnel linking the upper Thomson River with the Yarra valley, was completed in the early 1970s. After a diversion dam had been built on the upper reaches of the river, work began on the main dam wall, located in a narrow gorge some 15 km north of the Rawson township site.

The first buildings were constructed in the town in 1977. It was initially named Robertson after Alan Robertson, a former Chief Engineer of the Board of Works. But, after local pressure, the name was changed to Rawson, honouring a pioneer family of the area. The township was constructed in an attractive modern style and, because it was outside the catchment area, was later able to become a permanent town. There was accommodation for 600 single workers, modern houses for families and a large caravan park. By 1978, there were 1800 people resident in the town.

After the dam was completed in 1983, the construction workers moved on. The single men’s accommodation was removed and that land sub-divided into residential blocks. All the remaining houses were purchased by their previous occupants, or new residents, for use as permanent homes or ‘weekenders’.

In 2014 there was a move to separate the towns of Rawson, Erica and Walhalla from the Baw Baw Shire and join them with Latrobe City, but this did not succeed despite Moe and Traralgon being the towns where Erica/Rawson district residents most commonly shop and use services.

Rawson’s census populations have been:
Census – population
1986 – 337
1991 – 312
2006 – 279
2011 – 325
2016 – 294

DD

Further Reading:

J. Adams, Mountain gold: a history of the Baw Baw and Walhalla country of the Narracan Shire, Victoria, 1980

T. Dingle, Vital connections: Melbourne and its Board of Works 1891-1991, 1991

www.victorianplaces.com.au/rawson


 

 
 
 

The historic gold mining town of Walhalla is situated in a steep narrow mountain valley in Gippsland, 48 km north of Moe and about 185 km east of Melbourne. Accurate reproductions nestled amongst a wide variety of original buildings provide a rare insight into Walhalla as it existed more than 100 years ago.

Today, Walhalla is one of Victoria’s top visitor destinations with a great selection of places to dine and stay over. Park the car and explore the town, ride the spectacular Walhalla Goldfields Railway or explore the Long Tunnel Mine. Visit the Corner Store Museum, the old Post Office,  Walhalla’s Olde Lolly Shoppe or wind down with a coffee or tea.

In late 1862 alluvial gold was discovered here by a party of prospectors led by Ned Stringer. A rush to the creek, named after Stringer, quickly resulted. Quartz reefs were soon found and numbers of mining companies registered. The main reef, Cohen’s. proved to be one of the richest in Australia. The Walhalla and the Long Tunnel were the two main mines initially. Walhalla is at the south of gold-bearing country extending from Jamieson, north of the dividing range.

The track to Stringer’s Creek was from Toongabbie, 32 km to the south-east connecting with the larger towns of Rosedale and Sale near the Gippsland lakes. Machinery was brought in by packhorse until 1869, when improvements to the road allowed wheeled vehicles.

A township was laid out in 1866 and was named Walhalla after the mining company, itself named for the place of Norse legend. By 1870, there were numerous stores, butchers, bakers, hotels, banks, post office, school, mechanics’ institute hall (1865), two breweries and a newspaper. The buildings were crowded along the narrow floor of the valley and perched precariously on the hillsides. In 1871, there were 1484 inhabitants.

Routes to the south, to Moe and Traralgon, were opened and coach services began in 1878, but the town remained remote and isolated. A borough was proclaimed in 1872 and a shire in 1886.

Walhalla’s heyday was from 1880 to 1895. There were many mines along the reefs but the Long Tunnel, which took over the Walhalla Company, was the richest. The Long Tunnel Extended was another productive mine. The demand for timber for the mines denuded the hillsides, with timber tramways running for miles into the forest. Some sluicing took place on Stringer’s Creek from the mid-1880s.

At the peak of mining, there were over 4000 people in the area, including the outlying townships of Happy Go Lucky, Maiden Town, Mormon Town, Black Diamond, West Walhalla and Homedale. In 1887 the Australian handbook described Walhalla at its height:

 

Fire was a constant hazard in the town. The worst fire, in 1888, destroyed some 30 buildings. In 1891, a destructive flood carried away buildings, bridges and waterwheels.

In 1903 Walhalla was described in the Australian handbook:

 

There had been agitation for a railway to Walhalla for many years. It was 1910 before the line between Moe and Walhalla was opened. However, the mines had been experiencing difficulties since the turn of the century. The Long Tunnel Extended ceased working in 1911 and in 1913 the Long Tunnel also closed. In 1910, the population of the town was about 1600. There were still six hotels, six general stores and about 30 shops. Several smaller mining companies worked for a while but large numbers of people left the town. Many buildings were moved, such as the railway station to Hartwell, Melbourne. Others burned down or were abandoned. By 1915, there was only one hotel licensed and 17 shops in the town. In 1918, Walhalla shire became part of Narracan shire.

Although, still a busy township, the population continued to decline. In the early 1900s, there was a tourist walking track from Walhalla to Warburton, but in the 1920s and 1930s large numbers of visitors arrived by car and motorcycle. Excursion trains to Walhalla were a popular activity, but the train ceased travelling as far as Walhalla in 1944.

However, the Walhalla Improvement League (later Walhalla Heritage and Development League) was formed the next year, to preserve the remaining buildings and improve facilities for tourists. Fires and floods have further reduced the number of buildings but those remaining have been restored and protected.

Although the permanent population numbers less than 20, the town is now protected as a conservation area under the Register of the National Estate and as an Historic Park. The hills are forested again and the valley is peaceful. The post office, band rotunda, fire station, shops and houses have been restored and several buildings are heritage-listed. Some incorporate museums, showing the former life of the busy mining town. The Long Tunnel Extended mine runs underground tours. The last section of the railway line has been rebuilt and a tourist train runs from Thomson station to Walhalla. Walks can be taken to the cricket ground and cemetery or along the old timber tramway, all high above the valley floor. The Alpine Walking Track also begins at Walhalla.

Agitation began in 2014 for Walhalla, Erica and Rawson to split from Baw Baw Shire and join Latrobe City, but this was not successful.

Walhalla’s census populations were:

census date population
1871 1484
1881 1614
1891 1771
1901 2061
1911 1549
1921 235
1933 124
1947 83
1961 54
Walhalla shire

Walhalla borough was constituted in 1872. Walhalla was a gold mining town in a narrow mountain valley in Gippsland, about 185 km east of Melbourne. In 1886, the borough became a shire, in order to include surrounding unincorporated land. The shire boundary extended north to the top of the Great Dividing Range and to the south to the agricultural district of Moondarra, an area of 658 sq km. It included Aberfeldy, Happy-Go-Lucky and Jordan, all gold-mining settlements, but not Coopers Creek which lay just outside the shire’s boundary.

Walhalla’s peak prosperity was during the 1880s and 1890s. From the early 1900s the mines began to decline. Walhalla’s population decreased to the point where the shire could not guarantee a minimum rate income and Walhalla shire was added to Narracan shire in 1918.

Census populations for Walhalla shire were:

census date population
1891 2297
1901 2895
1911 2160

Source: Victorian Places, 2014, www.victorianplaces.com.au/walhalla 01 Oct 2018

Walhalla goldfields railway

Although abandoned for many years, the rebuilt narrow gauge railway between the Thomson Bridge  and Walhalla is now one of the most spectacular rail journeys in Australia. The service operates on Wednesdays and week-ends.  For timetables and more information, see http://www.walhallarail.com.au/index.php

Further Reading

J. Adams, Mountain gold: a history of the Baw Baw and Walhalla country of the Narracan Shire, Victoria, 1980

M. Fiddian, The iron road to Walhalla: a history of the Moe-Walhalla railway, 1981

L. Harrington, Walhalla today, 1975

G.F. James, Walhalla heyday, 1970

W.H. Lee, The Switzerland of Australia: views of early Walhalla and district, 1981

R. Paull, Old Walhalla: portrait of a gold town, 1963

Constance Tisdall, Forerunners: the saga of a family of teachers, Melbourne, 1961

AMOR.

Lat -37.940407 Lng 146.401285

Although the name Amor still appears on many maps, including Google, there is now little evidence to show the settlement ever existed.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Amor would have been a stopover place for travelers on their way to the alpine goldfields and other more northerly destinations. Later, there were two sawmills with cottages for timber workers at the site, and during the construction of the Thomson Dam in the 1970’s, Amor was the site of the Single Men’s quarters.

The Erica/Rawson water supply reservoirs are nearby.

++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

Do you know more?

If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au  Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

BOOLA
If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

CARINGAL (Scout Camp)

Lat -37.960077171052134 Lng 146.33387342699282

 
If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

COLLINS SIDING

Lat: -37.99600322 Lng: 146.3676702

Collins Siding is a small settlement today, but in the past played a very important role in the transportation by rail of timber harvested in the area. It is currently easiest recognized by the electricity substation located on the east side of the road from Moe. The intersection with Telbit Road, which leads to the Caringal Scout Camp and surrounding farming properties, is on the southern edge of the settlement.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

GOULD and the Moondarra Reservoir

The town of Gould was located on the former Moe – Walhalla railway route, but was abandoned when the Moondarra dam was constructed and filled in the early 1960’s. Gould, along with a significant section of the railway, became submerged in the water storage.

Gould was never officially a ‘town’, but had a school and small public hall. The Cecil Inn, now located in the Moondarra State Park visitor area is one of the buildings moved from the town before it was flooded.

 
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

Knotts Siding, the tramway route and mill location

Knotts and Knotts Siding still appear on some older maps, but the location is now more commonly known as Rawson or Parkers Corner. Except within Rawson, the present Knotts Siding Road is close to the old timber hauling tramway which transported the mill output to the Walhalla – Moe railway. The flat area near the Walhalla road intersection is all that remains of what was once a significant operation.

++++++++++++++++++++
If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

MOONDARRA

Moondarra is a rural locality in eastern Victoria, 20 km north-east of Morwell.  Other than the remains of an abandoned school, there is little to indicate there was was once a thriving centre with a Post Office, rail station and other businesses. The nearest businesses and services now are in Erica and Rawson, a few kilometers north.

The name arose from the Moondarra pastoral leasehold (c1850), and it is thought that the word was derived from an Aboriginal expression concerning rain or thunder.

Although set in hilly, timbered country south of the Baw Baw ranges, Moondarra was settled for farming in the 1870s and a school was opened in 1880.  Walhalla’s mining community provided a market for Moondarra’s produce, and a butter and cheese factory was opened in 1903.

A narrow gauge branch railway, from Moe through the Moondarra area to Walhalla, was opened in 1910, just as gold production was in decline. Neither Walhalla’s needs nor the railway prevented closure of the butter factory in 1911.

The Moondarra area extended about half way to Walhalla as Erica was at first known as Upper Moondarra (1881). The area later extended south when the Moondarra Reservoir was built on the Tyers River (1958) and then west when the Moondarra State Park was proclaimed in 1986. Remnants of the railway line (closed in 1954) can still be found in the park.

Typical of most farm settlements in the Gippsland ranges, Moondarra’s population was highest in the early 1900s when closer and village settlements were encouraged. Moondarra’s school closed in 1983 and its census populations have been:
census – population
1911 – 323
1921 – 179
1961 – 100
2006 – 79
2011 – not recorded – (included in Erica?)

Source: www.victorianplaces.com.au/Moondarra 01Oct2018

++++++++++++++++++++++

If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

Although the road to the Mt Erica car park is not sealed, it is suitable for 2wd drive vehicles most of the year. In the Declared Snow Season chains must be carried. These can be hired from the Erica Ski Hire in Erica.

Once the car park is reached there is a choice of bush walking tracks. Those leading to Mushroom Rocks and the old growth Monarch Way make the drive worth while. Or walk part of the Australian Alps Walking Track which wanders all the way to Canberra!

++++++++++++++++++++
If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

Although the road to the St Gwinnear car park is not sealed, it is suitable for 2wd drive vehicles most of the year. In the Declared Snow Season chains must be carried. These can be hired from the Erica Ski Hire in Erica.

The drive winds through an ever-changing forest and eventually finds an open area offering snow play in winter. Toboggans can be hired at Erica Ski Hire.

Winter or summer, a marked trail leads to Mt Baw Baw, or there are many other options offering great alpine views.

++++++++++++++
If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

PARKERS CORNER

Parkers Corner is a locality at the intersection of Moe-Rawson and Knotts Siding Roads, known locally as the Rawson turnoff.  In the past it was a significant settlement with a Police Station, school and Post Office. Today just a few homes remain scattered around the Erica CFA facility and a large DELWP complex. 

The road from Rawson through Thomson to Walhalla is sealed, but there are some tight corners. Slow is good.

Thomson is the site of two bridges across the Thomson River. Very different in style and age, these interesting structures make access to Walhalla by road and rail possible. Stringers Creek, famous because it led to the discovery of gold in the Walhalla area, joins the Thomson River at this point.

On the Rawson side of the river is a car park for passengers travelling on the wonderful Walhalla Goldfields Railway. Walk downstream back under the bridge to find Thomson Station and buy your ticket. Or some refreshment.

Walk in the other direction through a quiet camping area to find a 4wd track which climbs toward Depot Road in Rawson, or idle upstream along the river edge on Poverty Gully walking track to the historic Steel Bridge. Cross over and come back down the other side.

The Thomson bridges are a popular start and end point for canoeists exploring the river and a great background for creative photography.

+++++++++++++++++++++++
If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!

 

The picturesque MMBW Silvertop picnic area is a great place for the kids to have a romp while the adults appreciate some great views of Lake Thomson or fire up the BBQ. There are walking tracks to explore, BBQs, picnic shelters and toilets. The dam is just down the hill and the explanatory signage near the spillway is worth a careful read. 

 
If you have photos or information or stories about this location, we would really appreciate your help.

Just email what we can share to rcomt@speedweb.com.au. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – we will fix that!