Reconnect with nature and experience an important part of Victorian Goldrush history. The Thomson River Diversion Tunnel, commonly known as the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel, is located about 4km south-west of the historical Walhalla township.
The track takes you through a beautiful, natural bushland setting and is a great way to spend the day, enjoy the outdoors and experience a glimpse into some of the man-made marvels, that resulted from the Walhalla Goldrush.
- Nearest Town: Walhalla
- Start/Finish: The beginning of the walk begins at a junction and gives you the option to explore the entrance of the tunnel, or take the other path and explore the exit of the tunnel
- Distance: The entry track is 4km return, and the exit track 2km return – we recommended exploring both!
- Time: If you explored both tracks, it would take around 2 hours – which allows time for you to stop and take in your surrounds
- Effort: Medium – suitable for an average level of fitness, but the uneven paths can be a challenge for some
- Be prepared: Be sure to bring sturdy, comfortable shoes and water
- Accessibility: Part of the track is a steep hillside. At end of track near the Thomson River, surfaces are rocky and uneven.
- Pets: Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a lead/under control.
Getting started – A bit about the journey to get there
The drive to Horseshoe Bend Tunnel will take you on a windy, and beautiful journey, allowing you to pass through some of our most adventurous and picturesque towns, Erica and Rawson. Be sure to take your time and enjoy the journey!
There is a sign on your left-hand side about 1.7kms from the turn off that will take you to the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel carpark, from there set out on foot and connect with nature.
Horseshoe Bend Tunnel
Before you head out to experience the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel take some time to learn about its history. In the early beginnings of the 20th century gold in Walhalla had started to become increasingly expensive, this was due to the need to dig deeper and deeper into the seams.
So, our clever miners put their heads together. Knowing that there was gold in the Thomson River bed, but the river on top making it difficult to mine, they decided to ‘divert’ the river so the gold could be more easily mined – and a long story short, the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel was created.
Rumour has it on the opening day of the tunnel in 1912, the builder of the tunnel’s family was swept into the inlet – it ends happily though, she was a strong swimmer, and everyone made it out safely!
Now with today’s history lesson out of the way, let us tell you about the track. You walk to both the entry and exit, the exit is about 2kms return, and easy to find with the sounds of roaring water to guide your way. The entry is about 4km return and the track to the entrance follows the old river bed. The tunnel itself is about 220m long and is one of the last and longest diversion tunnels constructed for mining gold in Victoria.
The tracks are surrounded with stunning natural bush, tall trees line the track, and if you’re lucky enough you may discover some wild mint or wild cherries along the way.
At the junction of the tracks, that lead to the entrance or exit tracks there is a table and BBQ area. You will also find some signage that explains the history of the tunnel.
How to get here
The drive from Melbourne CBD takes around 2 hr and 10 minutes. Take the M1 towards Warragul and continue to Moe for the most direct route. (For a great scenic drive, we recommend going through Willow Grove and check out Blue Rock Lake on the way https://goo.gl/maps/2LeAC1RsuRP2)
Once you reach the Moe turn off (it’s hard to miss with a large truck stop/McDonalds coming into view as you approach the exit) make your way through the town and head toward Walhalla on the Moe Walhalla Road. Make the most of the scenic drive and enjoy the winding roads, and stunning scenery, you will pass through the beautiful town of Erica.
Past Erica, you will find yourself heading toward Rawson, take a right onto Knotts Siding Road (C481) and head through the town of Rawson coming out onto Tyers-Walhalla Road. Take a final left at Walhalla Road (C461), a few km’s before the Thompson River Bridge take a right onto Coopers Creek Road, this will lead you straight to the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel Carpark.
If you need a map we have you covered – https://goo.gl/maps/55JiTktn3aA2
While you’re there be sure to check out:
Nearby camping, towns, attractions
Make a weekend of your trip to the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel and explore the nearby towns. Be sure to stop by Walhalla. This unique mountain outpost offers visitors an opportunity to experience golden era surroundings and atmosphere. A flourishing gold mining town in the 19th century, today the township provides visitors a window into life as it once was.
On your way to the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel stop by Erica, the gateway to the Walhalla and Mountain Rivers Region, a popular base for indulging the adventurer within, and enjoying the great outdoors. Enjoy bushwalking, trail riding, motorbiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, four-wheel driving and more – the fun never stops. In the Winter months, let Erica warm you up, and provide the perfect base for snow adventures at Mt Baw Baw or Mt St Gwinear.
Located just 10 minutes from Erica, Rawson is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. It’s a beautiful place and a stunning setting to camp or caravan and explore the tracks and trails that surround the town. It’s a great place to try your hand at bushwalking, fishing, canoeing, river rafting, bird watching or gold panning.
Stay the night: Nearby Walhalla has plenty of accommodation options, from B&B’s with stunning views and charming hospitality, to The Star Hotel, which was rebuilt over 20 years ago, based on the original building, and provides boutique accommodation. There are also several nearby campgrounds, which provide the opportunity to spend the night under the stars. A few popular spots are the Chinese Garden Campgrounds (bookings are required, and the Walhalla Museum and Gift Shop can help you), the Coopers Creek Camping Area and the Thomsons Bridge Camping Area.
We love visitors here in Baw Baw so come and visit us today!
Please note: Horseshoe Bend will be closed to the public from early February until the middle of 2019. For more information visit www.wgcma.vic.gov.au