Drives: Avon Valley

Travel east over the Darling Ranges for a leisurely drive to the three major towns of the Avon Valley - Toodyay, Northam and York. The oldest inland towns in Western Australia, all are farming towns and all are rich in Australian colonial architecture. Distance: 250 km

The Avon Descent

Leave Perth via Gt Eastern Highway. At Midland, take Great Northern Highway and then Toodyay Road to the little country town of Toodyay. The whole place has a quaint, almost alternative-lifestyle feel to it. The town's Old Gaol Museum tells the story of WA's only bushranger - Moondyne Joe. From Toodyay, drive to Northam, the largest inland town in Western Australia and the commercial centre for the surrounding farming district.

Connors Mill, Toodyay

Northam is the home of Australia's only surviving colony of white swans and the starting point for the popular Avon Descent race, an annual whitewater race down the rapids of the Avon River that attracts entrants from many countries. Held each August, the 134 km whitewater/marathon race is recognised by canoers the world over as one of the great river races of the world. A Heritage Trail (free booklet available from the visitor's centre) takes in the town's colonial era buildings and the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Australia.

If you have the time, keep driving east from Northam to the rural community of Meckering, that nade international news in October 1968 when the town was destroyed by an earthquake. There are numerous relics from the earthquake in and around town that are easy to find.

Railway tracks buckled in the Meckering earthquake of 1968

Back to Northam, and further up the Avon River is York, the first township in the Avon Valley. Dating back to 1831, York is one of the best preserved and restored nineteenth century towns in Australia, a true monument to the architecture of the late nineteenth century. The drive back to Perth is by the Great Southern Highway to The Lakes, the by the Great Eastern Highway to Perth via Mundaring. Lake Leschenaultia, an old railway dam on the original Perth-Kalgoorlie line near Chidlow, makes a good stopping place for a barbecue, picnic or a swim on a hot day for travellers on their way back from Toodyay, York or Northam.

York Motor Museum

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