Commencing in June 1904, the Moe to Walhalla railway, one of four experimental 2'6" narrow-gauge railways built by the Victorian Government, reached its destination in May 1910 - too late to do much but witness the gradual decline of Walhalla as a premier mining town with the closure of the Long Tunnel Extended Goldmine in 1911 and its other record-breaking goldmine, the Long Tunnel itself, in 1914. In 1944 the service to Walhalla ceased operating beyond Platina and in June 1954, with only one mixed train operating to Erica each week, the line from Moe finally closed. In 1956 the line was pulled up and ceased to exist, except within the memories of many who had witnessed its operations and in the dreams of some who would like to see it operate again.
A number of attempts to restore the line were made with varying degrees of success until in 1991, with only the remains of derelict bridges on the right of way, the Walhalla Railway Taskforce was formed with the aim of restoring the line from Erica to Walhalla. This became the Walhalla Goldfields Railway, Inc., in 1993 and restoration began with the establishment of Thomson Station and its accompanying yard.
The railway commenced operations in April 1994, simply running up and down the Thomson Station yard. Gradually the line progressed, first over the Thomson River Bridge in May 1994, then to Leachville over the Three Span Bridge, to Cascade Halt, to Happy Creek and finally, after the construction of the six railway bridges in the last kilometre, into the Walhalla Station yard for the opening of this section of the line on 15th March 2002.
Does any of this seem familiar? The Walhalla Goldfields Railway even runs a Baldwin from time to time borrowed from the Puffing Billy Railway. Their President, Michael Leaney, visited Woody Bay earlier this year and was struck by the similar history and familiar nature of the L&BR. For more information visit their website.
The intention is to generate reciprocal volunteer opportunities and to encourage opportunities for mutual practical exchanges of information to enhance preservation, extension and operations.