Northam

Major regional service town on Great Eastern Highway.

Northam is the first large town encountered after travelling east from Perth and one of the oldest settlements in the central Wheatbelt area. It has long been a major rail centre and main depot for the Goldfields Water Scheme.

The town and hinterland of Northam are located in the Avon Valley - so named after the river the Avon River. It has been periodically flooded, and man-made banks protect the town from inundation.

Burlong Pool a pool just south of the town was known as the Burlong swimming pool, and in the 1890s the location of the source of water for the Goldfields Water Trains.


Buildings of note

Grand Hotel

A two storey brick and iron residential hotel with its original timber verandah still intact, this building illustrates the trend towards decoration out of construction, characteristic of the Arts and Crafts revival of vernacular types of building, this trend also being a forerunner to the Modern Movement. Historically significant as one of the few remaining turn-of-the-century hotels intact with verandahs and one of only two left in Northam. Built in 1895, for Michael Cody, who was also instrumental in building the Commercial Hotel further along Fitzgerald Street. After the new West Northam railway station was built in 1900, the new Grand Hotel was built opposite, during 1904-05. 426 Fitzgerald Street, Northam, WA.

Avon Bridge Hotel

The oldest section, Wildings Hotel, being a Georgian style composition, was built in 1860 of local stone with squared stone quoins and a corrugated iron roof. The verandah, of a very simple design, has been removed. The later part, the Avon Bridge Hotel built in 1897, is a good surviving example of a typical Victorian brick building with stucco dressings. The main building on the corner of Gardiner Street (built in 1897) is a two storey red brick and corrugated iron residential hotel with a delicate cast iron balustrade to the balcony and decorated with stucco cornices, string courses and arches. It replaces an earlier single storey vernacular styled section. 322 Fitzgerald Street, Northam, WA.

Northam Town Council Offices and Public Library

The Northam Town Council took a brave step in the late 1960s when they selected designs in the Late 20th-Century Brutalist architectural style for their Council Offices and Public Library. Designed by Bulgarian born Western Australian architect, Ivan Ivanoff, the buildings were erected between 1971-74. The Brutalist style is rarely seen in Australia outside of the capital cities. Grey cement brick buildings set behind landscaped gardens that appear almost sculptural in appearnace, the fortress-like nature, bold composition and strong vertical accent is achieved using concrete blocks and vertical 'slit' windows. 298 Fitzgerald Street, Northam, WA.


Avon Valley National Park

One of the smaller National Parks in the hills beyond Perth, Avon Valley National Park is one of the lesser known Parks, because of its isolation, limited accessability and lack of facilities. Anyone who has travelled on the Indian Pacific train from Perth to the Eastern States will be familar it, as that train passes up the valley and through the park on its way to Northam.

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Where is it?

98 km east of Perth on Great Eastern Highway.


Toodyay

The charming and historic town of Toodyay is a quiet place with just a hint of alternative lifestyle, and an ideal destination for day trippers. The area was opened up for European settlement in 1836 when a group of early settlers including James Drummond Snr. (whose work collecting native flora did much to increase and understanding of Western Australia's extraordinarily rich wildflowers), Captain Francis Whitfield and Alexander Anderson blazed a trail from the Swan River to the present site of Toodyay.

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York

The historic town of York has become a popular tourist destination. The reasons for its appeal are twofold. Firstly it is ideally located just over and hour from Perth, and secondly, as it was the first inland European settlement in WA, it is full of really beautiful old buildings. There is little doubt that it is one of the best preserved and restored nineteenth century towns in Australia. A true monument to the architecture of the late nineteenth century.

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The Avon Descent

This an annual, two-day, white water event involving both paddle craft (kayaks, surf skis) and small motor boats, is held every August starting in Northam. It is the only event in the world where power craft race paddle craft.

Natural features: Avon River; Mt. Ommanney lookout; Clackline Nature Reserve; Mount Ommanney; Half Mill Hill; Mt. Dick; Monday Hill
Built features: Byfield House; Shamrock Hotel (1886); Clearview House; Avon River Suspension bridge
Heritage features: Northam Heritage trail (includes St John's Church; Old Railway Station Museum; Mitchell House-1905; Morny Cottage); Buckland Homestead (1874); Farming Heritage Trail.


Brief history

Gazetted as a town in 1836, the first colonists into the area arrived soon after explorer Ensign Robert Dale passed through the area in October 1830. It was connected by telegraph to Perth in 1872. In the 1890s it became a base from which prospectors prepared to push into the desert.

During the 1940s and 1950s in Northam there were extensive camps for displaced persons and immigrants from continental Europe. The Northam Migrant Accommodation Centre closed in September 1951. It had been the first place of residence in Western Australia for approximately 15,000 immigrants from the Baltic states, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Belarus and Bulgaria.

Northam is named by Captain James Stirling after a village in Devon, England.

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