Take a break from city life and embrace the country charm of the Avon Valley located less than two hours northeast of Perth. Known for its beautiful rolling hills, golden canola fields, pioneering history, cultural stories and quintessential country towns, this region is perfect for a series of easy day trips or a short getaway.
And, if you’re footloose and fancy-free, Autumn is a wonderful time to experience the cooler air and warm country hospitality in the character-filled towns of Toodyay, York, Northam, Beverley, and Goomalling. Explore heritage sites and vibrant art trails, discover local produce, native flora and fauna, and indulge in award-winning country bakeries and luxury accommodation options.
With so much to see and do, discover the gems of the Avon Valley with our top tips for each town that will help you make the most of your time in this amazing region of Western Australia.
Toodyay, among Western Australia's oldest inland towns, has a rich history dating back to the Noongar people, with European settlers establishing it in the 1830s. Nestled between picturesque hills and the Avon River, this charming township boasts colonial architecture, and a stroll down its main street will unveil historical gems like Connor's Mill and the pretty St Stephen's Anglican Church. Explore the riverside, embark on the 2-kilometre Pelham Reserve hike, or peruse op-shops and gift stores offering local art and farm produce. Here are some of Toodyay's must-visit spots:
- Explore the Newcastle Gaol, constructed in 1865 and once holding the notorious bushranger Moondyne Joe. A visit to this site offers insights into Toodyay's history and the reason behind the town's name change from Newcastle in 1910. For a nominal fee, admission also grants access to the Old Police Stables, Convict Depot Barracks, and the Wicklow Shearing Shed.
- Immerse yourself in the festive charm of Christmas 360, Toodyay's iconic year-round Christmas shop. Brimming with decorations, festive trinkets, and life-size Santa statues, this quirky store is a treasure trove of all things Christmas.
- Discover the Free Range Emu Farm, located just a few minutes' drive from Toodyay and recognised as the world's oldest emu farm. Engage with these fascinating Australian native birds up close, feed them, and observe nesting chicks on a guided tour. The farm is open from Friday to Sunday by appointment only.
- Indulge in a treat at Toodyay Bakery, an award-winning artisan bakery conveniently located on the main street of Toodyay. Alongside yummy pies, the bakery offers freshly baked sourdough, ready-made rolls, great coffee, delicious cakes, and the acclaimed 'Australia's Best Pastie'. Open daily except Mondays, you’ll find ample seating available, including a charming balcony with views.
Nestled in the wheat-sheep belt of Western Australia, Beverley is a rural heritage town that rests beside the Avon River, enveloped by rolling hills, pastures, and native bushland. Offering diverse accommodation choices, including an RV-friendly free 48-hour stopover by the Avon River, Beverley serves as an excellent hub for exploring neighbouring Avon Valley towns. Take a leisurely stroll along the main street to admire various architectural styles and immerse yourself in the thriving arts scene, or venture to one of the popular attractions listed below.
- Begin your exploration of Beverley at the Beverley Visitor Centre in the Cornerstone building. As one of the finest in Western Australia, this centre serves as the perfect introduction to all that Beverley has to offer. The welcoming staff will help you discover all the wonderful things Beverley has to offer, and you can also purchase mementos, gifts, or locally-made products. And don’t miss the interactive aeronautical display of the Silver Centenary bi-plane!
- Step back in time at the Dead Finish Museum, housed in Beverley's oldest building and dedicated to recounting the early settler history of the town. This museum showcases a remarkable collection of artifacts that vividly depict life in Beverley since its settlement in 1831. Open every Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm between mid-March and November or by appointment for those seeking a deeper historical exploration.
- Discover the vibrant Street Murals on Vincent Street by renowned artist James Giddy, who brought his artistic touch to the town in June 2017. A chook, an echidna, a kookaburra and sheep are some of the animals you’ll see painted on the walls of buildings in the township.
- Immerse yourself in cultural richness at the Beverley Station Arts, Gallery & Platform Theatre, the epicentre of the arts community in Beverley. Hosting a variety of plays, concerts, workshops, and exhibitions throughout the year, this historic site is also known for the quirky 'leaning loo' of Beverley. You can even engage with the artist in residence for an enriching experience.
As Avon Valley's largest town, Northam offers a treasure trove of attractions, from exhilarating hot air balloon rides and cultural encounters to exploring historic buildings and scenic river walks. This bustling farm town is a hub for various events, such as the National Ballooning Championships and the annual Avon Descent. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Northam by staying at the boutique Farmers’ Home Hotel and enjoying a tipple at the Temperance Bar, which pays homage to the town's temperance roots. Snap a selfie against vibrant street murals, witness colossal silo art, or explore nature trails teeming with unique flora and fauna, especially during the wildflower season in spring. Here are our top recommendations for an unforgettable Northam experience.
- Explore the Bilya Koort Boodja Centre, where immersive audio-visual narratives, artifacts, Dreamtime stories, and insights into the six indigenous seasons come together to create an interactive educational experience. This Centre for Nyoongar Culture and Environmental Knowledge celebrates the profound Aboriginal and environmental heritage in the Nyoongar Ballardong region. A visit to this Avon Valley destination is highly recommended, and we advise allocating at least an hour to appreciate what this amazing curation has to offer fully.
- Don't miss the iconic Suspension Bridge in Northam, an essential stop on your visit. Take a stroll across Australia's longest pedestrian suspension bridge, aptly named the 'Swinging Bridge,' spanning 117 meters over the Avon River. Situated outside the Northam Visitor Centre on Minson Avenue, this engineering marvel is reportedly capable of withstanding winds of up to 150 kph and accommodating 400 people at once.
- Discover the vibrant public art scene in Northam as you drive along the Northam-Toodyay Road, where the CBH Grain Silos boast eye-catching murals depicting the region's landscape. Created as part of FORM's Public 2015 initiative, these works were crafted by internationally acclaimed artists Phlegm (UK) and Hense (USA). Throughout the town, more art awaits discovery. The historic Flour Mill hosts "The Last Swans," a tribute to the white swans along the Avon River banks, and the 25-meter-long ballooning mural by Jackson Harvey on the wall of Northam Second Hand on Gordon Place, celebrates the town's hot air ballooning. Plus along Fitzgerald Street are 12 sculptures highlighting the stories and history of Northam, and Bernard Park showcases sculptures by local students using the medium of scrap metal.
- Stay a night at the luxurious boutique Farmers’ Home Hotel when exploring the Avon Valley. Dating back to 1866, this thoughtfully restored historic hotel offers an ideal retreat for couples. Start your day with coffee or breakfast at the Dome cafe/restaurant located within the hotel, then leisurely explore the streets, discovering charming shops, crafts, and galleries. Or elevate your experience with a dawn hot air balloon flight for a spectacular start to your day.
Located in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, the unassuming farming town of Goomalling sits 45 kilometres northeast of Northam. Surrounded by picturesque rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards, and gorgeous agricultural landscapes, this historic town boasts heritage-listed buildings, nature trails, charming cafes, and cute street art murals. Goomalling's rural allure, coupled with the warm friendliness of its locals, makes it a destination that beckons visitors to return. Explore some of these must-visit spots during your stay.
- For one of the best places for brunch or lunch in the Avon Valley, look no further than Lot 39 Store & Cafe. With all the feels of a city café but with an added dose of warm country hospitality, you can indulge in house-made cakes, barista coffee, cold-pressed juices and delicious snacks and meals. The store also stocks contemporary homewares, accessories, gourmet produce and gifts. Open Tuesday to Saturday for breakfast and lunch.
- Affectionately referred to as the Dolly Twins, Goomalling’s four huge grain storage domes form a striking and unique structure, the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The concrete domes each store 44,000 tonnes of grain and are a site to behold.
- Enjoy a nature walk through Oak Park, named for the Swamp She-oaks (Casuarina Obesa) in the area. The 3-kilometre Oak Park trail winds through the reserve for 3km, starting at the picnic area. Look out for wildflowers during spring and read the signs along the trail telling about the wetlands, granite outcrops and the lives of the traditional owners of the land, the Ballardong people, as well as the settlers who arrived in 1899.
- Step back in time at the beautifully restored heritage-listed Slater Homestead, which was built in 1856 by George Slater, the first settler and farmer in Goomalling. Located 3 kilometres northeast of Goomalling, the picturesque old stone and mud brick dwellings offer a look at pioneering life. The Slater Homestead is open by appointment or weekends from April to October, where you can enjoy an old-fashioned country-style Devonshire tea, homemade cakes and a light lunch in Mary’s Tearoom.
Situated approximately 90 minutes east of Perth, the historic township of York in the Avon Valley is a “must-do” day trip or weekend getaway. As the oldest inland town in Western Australia, York's roots trace back to 1829, when the fertility of the land spurred its establishment. Today, the streets are adorned with a significant number of historic buildings, earning York a Heritage Precinct listing. Brimming with colonial architecture, natural beauty, and a heritage-rich atmosphere, the town is renowned for its canola fields, blooming from August to September.
Explore local shops for produce and collectibles, savour a meal at one of the charming eateries or historic pubs along the terrace, and don't overlook the scenic Avon Park by the river, boasting walking trails, a swinging bridge, and inviting picnic tables.
- Offering a stunning 360-degree view of the surrounding hills, farmlands and town centre, Mount Brown Lookout (Wongberl) is a picturesque gem in York. Accessible by car or via a 7.5-kilometre return hike, Wongberl carries cultural significance for the local indigenous community, narrating a tale of forbidden love. Situated in a valley, York often experiences morning mist in autumn or winter, making Mount Brown one of the best spots for capturing the beauty of the landscape at sunrise or sunset.
- York Motor Museum - make a pit stop at one of Australia’s finest collections of vintage, veteran and classic cars, motorcycles and memorabilia, some of which cruised our roads over 100 years ago. Beginning some 40 years ago from a private collection by Peter Briggs, it is now owned by the Avon Valley Motor Museum Association. Entry is $12 pp or $3 child with concession and family passes also available.
- The Canola Fields are a standout attraction in York, drawing tourists and Perth locals to view their golden beauty. These canola crops, sown in autumn, burst into blooms between August and September, creating stunning photo opportunities. As the third-largest crop in Western Australia (after wheat and barley), it's crucial to respect that all canola fields in the Avon Valley are on private property, and visitors should refrain from walking through the paddocks. For those seeking an up-close experience with canola fields, PetTeet Park in Gilgering (a 30-minute drive from York) offers a designated canola crop specifically for tourists to enjoy.
- Explore York's rich history at the Residency Museum offering captivating insights into the region's past. Housed in the last remaining section of York's Convict Depot, this historic building served as the Depot Superintendent's Quarters in the 1850s and later became the official residence of the town's Resident Magistrate. The museum boasts fascinating exhibitions curated to cover a diverse range of themes that allow you to connect with the unique stories of those who shaped York. A small entry fee applies.
📷 All image credits Lisa Gageler (Perth.Local)