Happy Valley is a rural locality and former gold mining town 28 km south-west of Ballarat. It is near the Springdallah Creek, a tributary of the Woady Yaloak River, and was part of the extensive Woady Yaloak diggings which extended from Linton to Pitfield.
The ‘Wardy Yallock’ goldfields were prospected in the early 1850s, but intensive mining at Happy Valley probably began in 1854. The origin of the name arose from the rich yields that were found.
Happy Valley was one of the few gold towns in the area that experienced continual mining until the 1900s. Its school – at first named Lucky Woman’s after a successful mine – was opened in 1860. Bailliere’s Victorian gazetteer (1865) also recorded a post office, a police station, a branch bank and several hotels in Happy Valley. The town’s social institutions changed during the next 20 years with hotels numbering two and churches three.
After the 1880s Happy Valley’s population stayed at about 200 people, and it was described in 1903 in the Australian handbook:
In common with most mining towns in the Woady Yaloak district gold yields declined in the early 1900s. A branch railway line through Happy Valley (1916-85) had little impact on the village.
The school closed in 1940, and the church and the free library continued until the 1950s. Happy Valley has a few buildings, some farming, many mullock heaps and State Forest to its north and south. Its census populations were:
J.G. Roberts, Happy Valley, Smythesdale, 2003