The pearl in the Avon Valley, York is approximately 100 Km east of Perth. First settled in 1831 it is WA’s oldest inland town and it prospered as an important agricultural centre. The Gold Rush saw York become an important commercial centre and fueled its rapid growth. Many of York’s historic buildings date from this era and it is the number of intact Colonial and Federation buildings that has earned the town its National Trust classification of historic town. The main focus of activity is Avon Terrace and walking along it is like stepping back in time. The town hall was built in 1897 and was renovated in 1911 to give it the large and grandiose Romanesque entrance hall that is seen today. Next door is the Imperial Hotel opened in 1886 and is a particularly fine example of a railway hotel. It was the first two storey commercial building in York to be made out of local stone.
The Castle Hotel , just a little further up Avon Terrace, has the distinction of being the oldest inland hotel in WA and was built by ticket of leave men from the York Convict Hiring Depot in 1853. Other significant buildings on Avon Terrace are the Courthouse and Gaol Museum and Settlers House .
Also on the terrace is the York Motor Museum which houses the Peter Briggs collection of one hundred and fifty vehicles that range from an 1894 Peugeot to a Williams FW07 which Alan Jones drove on his way to becoming the 1980 World Grand Prix Champion. The Residency museum on Brook Street ((08) 9641 1751) is all that remains of the original Convict Hiring Depot which was built in 1852. In 1867 the building became the residence of the colonial governor and now houses an interesting museum. Close by is the old hospital building which opened in 1896 in response to a cholera outbreak in the Goldfields.
In spring the surrounding areas of York become festooned with a huge variety of wildflowers, many of which can be found on the roadside verges. If you wish to see more prolific displays the main wildflower sites are:
- Mokine Reserve has great many different species of wildflower with silky blue orchids, white spider orchids, donkey orchids, leschenaultia, and fringed lily being just a few.
- St Ronan’s Reserve just off the Great Southern Highway does not have the density or variety of Mokine Reserve, but if you have time to walk around it will not disappoint.
- Wallaby Hills Reserve off the Goldfields Road also puts on an impressive display including climbing fringed lilly, calytrix, yellow hibertia, rosy cheeked donkey orchids, paperlilly, peabush, cowslip orchids, and dryandra.
- Mt Brown in York itself is also a great spot for everlastings and donkey orchids.
- The roadside verges along Wambyn Road, which is a turn off from the Great Southern Highway, have blue leschenaultia, blue/purple dampiera, yellow/orange pea flowers, cowslip orchids, Donkey orchids, everlastings, white candle flowers, kangaroo paws, fringed lily flowers, and running postman creeper.
Beverley is 130 Km east of Perth and is a quiet agricultural town with its own distinct character which has been created by the wide range of architectural styles used to build it. A walk down Vincent Street will take you from Colonial, to Federation, to art deco to a 1960’s geodesic dome. It all sounds a bit of a hodge podge but it really hangs together well. There is a collection of farm machinery at Ferguson’s Machinery Shed on Hunt Road that recalls Beverley’s by-gone years as an important agricultural hub. The Beverley Aeronautical Museum on Vincent Street is easy to find as it has a Vampire Jet parked on the lawn outside of it.
The Railway Station was designed by George Temple-Poole and built in the Victorian Tudor style in 1886. It ceased to be a working station some years ago and has been renovated and converted into an arts centre. The Beverley Art Collection is on permanent display, there are resident artists, workshops and an outdoor theatre. The Dead Finish Museum was originally a hotel of the same name, its displays give an insight into what life was like in the early days of the district.
Outside of town are the Yenyenning Lakes which are a haven for birdlife and used for water sports, for directions ask at the Visitor Centre. Also out-of-town is Avondale Discovery Farm which has an 1850’s era homestead and is a working farm run by the National Trust using historic agricultural machinery and techniques.
All the details for these events can be found at www.beverleywa.com/calendar.html .
- Beverley Ester Art Exhibition – a very popular event which attracts lots of visitors to the town.
- Beverley Clydesdale and Vintage Day has demonstrations of horse-drawn ploughing and vintage tractors and is held at the Avondale Discovery Farm in June.
- The Great Southern Working Sheepdog Society Finals coincide with the above event and are also held at Avondale.
- Beverley Agricultural Show is a real agricultural show. There are jam and cake competitions, pony events, tug of war, competitions for the best poultry, sheep, and cattle, and displays of country crafts. It is held in August of every year.
- Beverley Harvest Festival at Avondale has displays of historic harvesting methods, working dogs, local produce to taste all capped off with music and dancing.
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