Penny Farthing Sweets on Avon Terrace
Swinging Bridge suspended across the Avon River
York Motor Museum
With rolling verdant and golden vistas reminiscent of the UK, it’s easy to understand how Perth’s first inland town earned its name of York.
With Mt Brown and Mt Bakewell watching over the valley, settlers arrived from the UK and made the 97km journey from Perth to the Avon Valley in 1831. It soon became apparent that the rich soil would yield favourable results and with this prediction, land cultivation and the thriving town of York soon followed.
Strolling among the preserved Victorian and Federation buildings of York is the best way to immerse yourself in the town’s charm. On the main street of Avon Terrace, Penny Farthing Sweets inspires childhood memories with memorabilia and a rainbow of local and imported lollies. Across the road, the iconic York Motor Museum takes you on a journey of automobile history with a wide selection of vintage, classic, horse-drawn vehicles and racing cars, as well as motorcycles and retro caravans.
York isn’t just about sweets and fancy buildings and cars, especially if you found yourself in one of the grim cells in the Old Courthouse and Gaol in the York Courthouse Complex. You wouldn’t want to have been a resident at the Old York Hospital either, built to serve the many men who suffered from the harsh conditions in the Goldfields. Now a private home, I wonder if the owners of this grand residence believe the many rumours circulating about their house being haunted?
You can put the theory of York’s haunted past to the test yourself with a pub meal or stay at any of the heritage venues such as The Castle Hotel or the York Palace Hotel and Restaurant.
Set on five picturesque acres and with views of Mt Brown, Faversham House is one of the state’s grandest colonial mansions offering country luxury, even if you’re not attending a wedding or function in the ornate grounds. Owner Nola Bliss says: “I think what makes York such a unique destination is the historic buildings and its people and its proximity to Perth for both day trippers and those wanting a short break.”
In such picturesque surroundings, it’s easy to understand how the region has become such a hub for artists. The town is full of shops selling gifts, art and antiques. Among them Barclay Books and The Old York Mill at the entrance to town.
Also on Avon Terrace, Gallery 152 exhibits many Australian contemporary and multi-disciplinary artists and runs the York Botanic Art Prize launching in April 2021. The onsite Botanicalia Café is known for its ploughman’s lunch, honey cake and pistachio slice.
Gallery 152 and Botanicalia Café owner Jenny Garroun says: “The region is a playground for artists working in any medium as the valley is surrounded by the beautiful and natural environment of the hills, Avon River, the architecture of its heritage buildings, wildflowers and night sky.”
For collectors of fine food and home products, The Good Life Store sources produce from the region including the York Olive Oil Co – a visit to the nearby factory is also a delicious stop to indulge in York ice cream, preserves and bread.
Avon Park, on the banks of the Avon River, is a popular picnic spot and includes a skate park, barbecue facilities, nature playground and the infamous Swinging Bridge suspended across the river. It also showcases many varieties of wildflower blooms from August to October.
To take in York’s full glory, the panoramic views from Mount Brown lookout, a few minutes out of town, is a great vantage point to plot your onward journey to the surrounding towns of Beverley, Northam and Toodyay.
Just as York became a central hub for pastoralists, gold prospectors seeking their fortune and fearless pioneers, the historic town continues to entice modern day explorers far and wide.
Create your own trail or follow one of the York Heritage Walk Trails. More information is available from the Visitors Centre located in the prominent York Town Hall and originally constructed in 1911, it’s worth a visit if only to admire its Edwardian grandeur. Or download the Shire of York Trails & Tours app to plan your journey in advance.