Ultimate Avon Valley family weekender
Only an hour from Perth, the Avon Valley packs the sights and escapism of a country getaway into a single weekend.
By Michael Wayne
Western Australia is the nation’s road trip capital. Delights and surprises of every kind are spread across more than 18,500 kilometres (11,500 miles) of carriageway, and some of the state’s most charming treasures can be found within easy reach of the capital.
Day 1: Perth to Northam via York
For a different viewpoint of Northam’s silos, take to the skies on one of Windward Balloon Adventures’ hot air balloon rides. Even if heights aren’t for you, a sky full of colourful balloons set against Northam’s bright yellow canola fields is an unforgettable springtime kaleidoscope.
- Drive time: about 2 hours
Heading east out of Perth along the Great Southern Highway, it doesn’t take long for the cityscape to give way to the vast Western Australia countryside. In an hour and a half, you’ll find yourself among prominent, lovingly restored Victorian and Federation-era architecture in York, Western Australia’s first inland European town.
The first British settlers arrived in the area in 1831 on a quest for fertile farmland to support the fledgling Swan River Colony. What they found reminded them of the Yorkshire countryside, and today it’s not that different. York’s lush, scented English gardens, heritage walking trails, and quirky assortment of museums, cafés and antique shops make for a picturesque pit-stop. It’s also an ideal weekender in its own right, with a variety of farm stays and elegant bed-and-breakfasts options.Show more
Day 2: Northam to Perth via Toodyay and New Norcia
- Drive time: about 30 minutes to Toodyay, 1 hour to New Norcia, and 1.5 hours to Perth
Just half an hour north of Northam, Toodyay is the Avon Valley’s picnic basket. Here, you’ll find a locally grown assortment of fruit, wines, meats, bread and olive oil. On arrival, head to the Cola Cafe, a ‘50s-style diner that is home to a staggering collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia – over 6,000 items – gathered over 45 years.
The Newcastle Gaol Museum is a portal to Toodyay’s colonial past. Built in 1865, the former prison today tells the stories of its most colourful residents, including notorious bushranger Moondyne Joe. Other historic buildings include Butterly House, which is thought to be the oldest building in Toodyay.
For the kids, there’s the all-new Toodyay Fairytale Farm, featuring characters and games from classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes, a vintage toy museum, and cute farm animals ready for petting.Show more