This pretty town in the Victorian High Country turned aesthetics to its advantage.

Story and photos Ricky French

If you ask Michael Leaney, owner and operator of Walhalla’s Star Hotel, what brings people to Walhalla he won’t say it’s the pleasing landscape of the narrow, twisting mountain valley. Nor will he say it’s the sense of history when you look down on the mostly empty town from the silent cemetery on the hill. He won’t even say it’s his own hotel, rebuilt to the somewhat unusual specifications of the burnt-down original, which has breathed life back into town. 

Michael gazes down the main street, where exotic, flowering trees surround the restored fire station straddling Stringers Creek. A stone wall and a grand rotunda stand proudly in the foreground, as though placed there by a child constructing their vision of a perfect town. “People come here for the same reason they go to Paris,” he says. “Because it’s pretty. That’s what it is. Walhalla is so damn pretty.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #114

Outback Magazine: August/September 2017