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.

Around Town

Connors Mill, which is also known as the Moondyne Gallery & Toodyay Tourist Centre, was built in 1870 to grind the locally grown wheat. The mill has been converted into a three level tourist centre and gallery. The most interesting part of the building is undoubtedly the top level where there is a very detailed presentation of the life of the local 'hero' Moondyne Joe.

Moondyne Joe's major claim to fame is that he was Western Australia's most famous bushranger. He was the son of a Welsh blacksmith who was transported for ten years for stealing three loaves of bread, some cheese and a piece of mutton, arriving in 1853. He branded an unmarked horse and was gaoled in Toodyay for the 'felony'. He managed to escape, beginning a cat and mouse game which 'Joe' and the law played for the next forty years.

The Old Victoria Hotel (1899): a building typical of the charm of the town. The upstairs verandah looks more like a wave than a verandah. It seems to be twisting and collapsing in a myriad of different directions. Further up the main street is the Municipal Hall and the Toodyay Public Library building (1874) which are notable for the charming old style lamp posts outside.

Newcastle Gaol

The Old Gaol in Toodyay's Clinton Street is an interesting stone building completed in 1862. It consists of cells, a kitchen, constable's quarters, storeroom and exercise yard. The museum at the jail houses a collection of unique colonial artefacts giving an insight into the lifestyle of the district's early inhabitants.


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?

85 km east of Perth.


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.


History

The first European into the area was Ensign Dale who led a party from the Swan River into the upper reaches of the Avon Valley in October 1831. It is said that the name Toodyay is a corruption of the local Aboriginal word 'duigee' which supposedly meant 'place of plenty'. This name related to the richness and fertility of the area and the reliability of the Avon River.

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.

In the 1850s the original town was abandoned because of continuous flooding of the Avon River. The local Aborigines knew of the dangers of the original site. It has been claimed that they used to joke about even the kangaroos getting bogged in the mud left after the floods. A new town was built 2 km further upstream and named Newcastle in 1861. Confusion with Newcastle in New South Wales resulted in it being renamed Toodyay in 1911.

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