Take a journey back in time as you explore the historic towns of the Avon Valley – their romance and charm framed by picturesque landscapes of rolling green hills and restored historic buildings from the Victorian era.
Discover Australia's only monastic town, watch the sun rise from a hot-air balloon over the verdant Avon Valley, picnic on a grassy riverbank as graceful white swans glide past and browse for originally crafted pottery in historic townships.
Trip length from Perth 3 days Total distance 393km (245mi) Road conditions All sealed roads Segment distances: Perth to York, 97km (60mi) – 1hr 50mins; York to Toodyay, 63km (39mi) – 1hr; Toodyay to New Norcia, 88km (54mi) – 1hr 5mins; New Norcia to Perth, 145km (90mi) – 2hrs 5mins. Suggested overnight stops: York and Toodyay.
Enjoy the stunning scenery from a hot-air balloon or thrill to the sights by jumping out of a plane on a tandem sky dive. Get up close to local wildlife on a walk through native bush and along placid riverbanks.
The Avon Valley is Western Australia's first inland settlement and is filled with several interesting heritage towns and buildings.
Here, lovingly restored historic buildings and museums tell a tale of Australia's pioneering heritage. Each town hosts a heritage walking trail along which you may experience these unique stories.
Must-see sights in the Avon Valley, include…
Discover waterfalls and dramatic granite outcrops with great views back to Perth from a bush trail in John Forrest National Park.
Along the way, look out for kangaroos, echidnas, short-nosed bandicoots and wallabies.
John Forrest has long been favoured for a day-trip from Perth, with its variety of flora and fauna, and outstanding views from lookout point on the scenic drive. A drive along the full length of Park Road features many of the 500 species of wildflowers recorded in this park.
Situated in the Darling Ranges, John Forrest is the oldest National Park in Western Australia and is set in jarrah forest still largely in its natural state. The uplands are dominated by jarrah and marri forest. The valley floor features flooded gum, swamp peppermint and paperbarks.
While the visitor area provides barbecue, picnic facilities and gardens of native plants, the rest of the park is largely undeveloped and is home to a variety of native plants and wildlife.
The park is home to 10 species of native mammal, 91 species of bird, 23 species of reptile and 10 species of frog.
The park hosts two waterfalls that flow during winter and spring – Hovea and National Park Falls. Hovea’s falls cascade down a large granite sheet while National Park Falls drops sharply over 20m (65ft) of sheer rock face.
You can access Hovea Falls by walking about 800m (874yd) east of the main picnic area, while National Park Falls is accessible via the John Forrest Heritage Trail.
There are several bushwalking trails to choose from ranging in length from 300m (984ft) to 16km (10mi) depending on your level of fitness.
John Forrest National Park is located 28km (17mi) east of Perth, a 30 minute drive. There are three entrances to the park off Great Eastern Highway.
Eagle View Walk Trail – This 15km (9.3mi) circuit trail ventures into the lesser explored areas of the John Forrest National Park and offers great views across the Swan Coastal Plain to Perth city and the ocean in the distance.
While challenging in parts, the trail leads through a variety of relatively pristine habitats, passing beautiful waterfalls and boasting spectacular wildflower displays in spring.
The trail initially follows Jane Brook down the valley then climbs the valley wall where you can stop and admire the view. Hovea Falls is a pretty place for a picnic lunch when water is flowing.
The trail then meanders its way up and down valleys, creek lines and hills before heading back to the Brook, which it follows back to the main visitor's area.
The trail, which can be tackled clockwise or anticlockwise, has signs – a yellow triangle emblem with the silhouette of the eagle – every 2km (1.2mi) advising of distance already covered and yet to walk. Allow between four to seven hours to complete the trail, depending on your level of fitness and your interest in the surroundings.
Discover heritage architecture that still reflects the town’s early colonial and convict past, including the Old Newcastle Gaol Museum and Connors Mill, Australia's finest example of an 1870s steam-driven flour mill.
Toodyay offers fascinating artefacts and stories of bushrangers, convicts, war heroes and more. Discover where the legend of Moondyne Joe began at Newcastle Gaol museum and Connor's Mill Museum. Enjoy a self-guided heritage walk that brings the past to the present.
Stroll along Stirling Terrace and browse the resident sculpture, pottery and art studios that offer individually crafted works.
Enjoy a quick snack or hearty meal in one of the historic tearooms and al fresco cafés or choose to picnic along the Avon River or at Pelham Reserve for gorgeous views of the valley.
Toodyay Living History Walk Trails – Follow a choice of four self-guided heritage walks to learn about the town's rich history. Route maps are available from the Toodyay Visitor Centre.
Green trail – Follow this 1.8km (1.1mi) walk along the main street past heritage buildings including Connor's Mill, Demasson's Store, Butterly Cottage and through Duidgee Park before returning via the banks of the Avon River and St Stephen's Anglican Church and Stirling Terrace.
Orange Trail – This walk is an optional extension of the green trail along Stirling Terrace that takes you past numerous historic sites and to the Catholic Precinct.
Yellow Trail – This walk takes you via the railway station and Anzac Memorial Park to the Newcastle Gaol Museum, and returns to the Visitor Centre via Duke Street North and Charcoal Lane. This walk also has sections of moderately steep hills on Clinton Street.
Blue Trail – This is an optional extension of the yellow trail along Duke Street, past the old hospital up to an impressive lookout at Pelham reserve. This walk will appeal to nature lovers. It includes steep hills and a moderate level of fitness is required.
The region's many nature reserves become ablaze with colour with magnificent displays of wildflowers during the wildflower season from August to November.
Wildflowers include pink everlastings, blue leschenaultia and a variety of orchids. Popular locations for wildflower spotting include Pelham Reserve, Dawn Atwell Reserve, Wongamine Reserve and Majestic Heights.
Toodyay Pioneer Heritage Trail – This 20km drive, from the intersection of Toodyay Road & Morangup Road to Duidgee Park, traces the route of the first settlers in the area, in what is now known as West Toodyay.
The trail offers a pleasant two hour drive with opportunities for picnicking and bushwalking.
Previously known as Newcastle between 1860 and 1910, Toodyay is located in the picturesque Avon Valley region, around 85km (52mi) north-east of Perth.
Explore a treasure trove of beautifully restored Victorian and Federation buildings, galleries, heritage museums and arts shops in this picturesque hamlet located on the Avon River around 96km (59mi) east of Perth.
Walk heritage trails in Western Australia's first inland settlement (1831), go skydiving and horseback riding. Visit in September for the Jazz Festival or October for the Garden Festival and The York Antiques and Collectors Fair.
Nestled in the undulating farmlands of the Avon Valley and straddling the banks of the Avon River, York is bordered by outstanding natural beauty. Several Heritage Walking Trails are available to explore the town.
The York Bushland Garden, just a short walk from town, displays a wide range of wheat-belt plants and wildflowers.
Here, you may wander through a tranquil bush setting, enjoying birdsong and the beauty of more than 300 species of WA flora, including many that are rare in their natural habitat.
As well as the beautiful display of wildflowers from September to November, York is also known for its amazing Canola fields which flower from mid-August to into September.
York Heritage Trails – Follow one of the towns historic walk trails to discover the town's unique history.
The Grand Designs Walk looks at the pubs and parapets that give York's main street its unique character.
Tour the undiscovered jewels of York's side-streets on the Hidden Gems Walk, and walk in the footsteps of York's convict era on the Convicts and Crossings Walk, where you may cross the river by suspension bridge or the ancient ford in summertime.
Surrounded by tranquil rolling hills, pastures and native bushland, Beverly is one of Western Australia's oldest settlements.
Stroll down the main street and admire the variety of heritage architectural styles. Visit the Dead Finish Museum – open from March to November – which chronicles the early settler history of the town.
Head out to Yenyening Lakes or take a hike up County Peak for panoramic views of the great region.
Beverley offers a range of wildflowers during the year, with Brooking Street Reserve and the Poison Hill Reserve the most popular places to admire an abundance of different and unique flowers. The best time to look at wildflowers in Beverley is late winter to early spring, or from August to October.
Beverley Town Heritage Trail – This 3.2km (2mi) circuit trail guides you on a tour of the town's heritage buildings. Admire a variety of architecture, from Art Deco to Georgian to the newly built Cornerstone building, home of the visitor centre.
The walk takes around one hour, starting at the Dead Finish Museum, built in 1872.
Nestled on the banks of the Avon River, Beverley is located around 130km (80mi) east of Perth.
Admire the Avon Valley from a hot-air balloon as the first signs of dawn paint a warm glow over the pretty green countryside.
Enjoy breakfast at one of the town's al fresco cafés before browsing the local arts and crafts shops.
Later, discover some of Northam's pioneering history with a stroll through the town along the Heritage Trail.
Don’t miss Morby Cottage, built in 1836 by one of Northam's first families. Picnic on the shady grassy banks of the Avon River and admire the graceful white swans gliding past. Or, you can spy on the swans from the heady heights of the pedestrian suspension bridge which passes over the Avon – the longest of its kind in Australia.
Northam provides a great base from which to explore the Avon Valley.
Located around 98km (60mi) east of Perth on the Great Eastern Highway, Northam is WA's largest inland town and is home to more than 185 heritage-listed buildings.
Discover Australia's only monastic town, which was established in 1847 as a mission for the local Aboriginal people by Spanish Benedictine monk Bishop Rosendo Salvado.
More than 170 years later New Norcia is still home to Benedictine monks and the monastery is one of the 27 heritage buildings listed on the National Estate.
Don't miss visiting the New Norcia Museum & Art Gallery which provides a fascinating insight into the monastery’s history and showcases a selection of Aboriginal artefacts. The art galleries show works ranging from traditional European religious art to funky Australian contemporary pieces.
New Norcia is located 130km (80mi) north-east of Perth.
Latest update: Top attractions in the Avon Valley: 2 February, 2021
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