Known and adored for its rich culture, vibrant historical tapestry, natural beauty and the plethora of festivals and events on offer, York is one of Western Australia’s premium holiday destinations. Located 98km from the Perth CBD, the small town nestled on the Avon River is populated with just over 3,5000 people, and is WA’s oldest inland European settlement.
It’s a 90-minute road trip from the sparkling city lights, near enough to go for a day, but charming enough to stay. As the story goes, the fertility of the land led to the town’s original establishment in 1829. From then, it became a place to grow cereal crops for the Swan River Settlement. These days, history lives within the walls of the significant sum of historic buildings that line the streets – which are also responsible for its Heritage Precinct listing.
There’s no shortage of reasons why the destination is worthy of discovery, and no limit to the possibilities of experience. Whether you’re visiting during the wildflower season in spring, the York Festival in September or for various events sprinkled throughout the year, there’s a multitude of ways to tackle the country town and experience the very best it has to offer.
Here’s a handful to whittle away the hours on your next escapade.
SEE & DO
Wander Through History
Stretch your legs with a wander along Avon Terrace. York’s main street is a hub of activity, lined with heritage buildings worthy of admiration. Sergeants Pharmacy, the St Patrick’s Parish Catholic Church and York Courthouse and Gaol, complete with its cell block, courtrooms and stable yard, will transport you through the patchwork of the past.
Self-drive ‘Ghost Town’ tour
While it may come as a surprise to some, York has a dark side. The destination is notoriously known for paranormality, with many believing the town is peppered with ghosts. If you’re partial to ghoulish pastimes, a self-driving tour is one of the best ways to view the allegedly haunted locations.
Renowned for its sweeping fields of gold, which flower between August and September, York is home to a cornucopia of canola. Visitors should keep in mind that all fields are private property, so it’s illegal to touch or walk through. If you can’t bear to miss the utterly Instagram-able opportunity, PetTeet Park in Gilgering, a 30-minute drive from York, features a crop entirely for tourists!
Mount Brown Lookout
Before the sun goes down, take a walk or short five-minute car trip via Pioneer Drive from the town centre to Mount Brown Lookout, which is also known as Wongborel, and experience a true Wheatbelt sunset. The lookout is 342m above sea level and is the location of the annual ANZAC Day Dawn Ceremony.
Pack a picnic with produce from one of the many eateries, and perch yourself at the lookout tables, while you feast your eyes on the breath-taking 360-degree panoramic vistas of York and its surrounds. If you’re keen to stick around for a little while, the location is perfect for stargazing.
York Motor Museum
You’ll be able to spend an hour or two wandering around the York Motor Museum – the only community-owned and operated motor museum in Australia. With curated displays of a collection of vintage racing bikes, classic cars and motorcycles, automobile buffs will be well and truly in heaven. And with the most notable exhibit being the iconic Crocodile Dundee Ute, a pit stop is non-negotiable!
Visit Antique Stores & Quirky Shops
York is home to an array of antique, eclectic and quirky shops. Be sure to pop in to some of the local vendors, including:
- Good Life Store – all about healthy living and being good to our bodies and the environment. The store offers an extensive range of eco-friendly products, homewares, fresh local produce and bush
- Flour Mill Emporium – a collection of all things eclectic at the Old York Mill, with the works of artists, pottery, gifts and second-hand furniture.
- Barclay Books – if you’re a book lover, you’ll want to stop by this little gem for a treasure trove of old, new, used and rare books. The store is located inside the Old Fire Station building, which once housed the Council Chambers.
- Sock Factory – the WA owned and operated company is the last manufacturer of socks in the state. While also selling an array of Australian-made Ugg boots, blankets, scarves, knitted jumpers and more.
Hit the Trails
Grab the bikes and cycle into town and across to Avon Park. Those partial to adventure will enjoy riding across the suspension bridge, which overlooks Mt Bakewell. Peddle past WA’s oldest croquet club and back to Avon Park via Glebe St.
For something a little less strenuous, try the Avon Walk Trail at Avon Park. The easy 7km (return) track follows the Avon River and you’ll be sure to spot a bounty of birdlife and fauna along the way. You’ll return via Avon Terrace, past the impressive Faversham House and Sandalwood Yards.
Established in 2004 for the enjoyment of the community and to showcase a range of WA’s waterwise flora, the York Bushland Gardens is home to a collection of rare and native flora. The site which features an emphasis on Wheatbelt and Southwest species, was formerly a clay put for brickmaking during the town’s early days. And was later used as a disposal area for a hotel destroyed during the Meckering earthquake in the 1960s.
Penny Farthing Sweets
A trip to this old-fashioned sweet shop on York’s main drag is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. Bursting with local and imported confections from across the globe, Penny Farthing Sweets is a one stop shop for all things lolly, chocolate and fudge!
White Gum Farm
If you’ve got a taste for adventure, head to White Gum Farm. The ‘adventure park’ features a plethora of attractions, including a four-wheel obstacle course and the custom-built water feature Lake Kimberley, a spot ideal for swimming and canoeing. The farm also boasts caravan, campervan and tent camp sites for those looking to stay the night.
The destination was originally established to service the needs of an airfield, which remains to this day. It’s WA’s largest, privately owned flight facility, swaggering hangaring facilities for microlight and ultralight aircraft.
Discover Town Hall
Visit the iconic Town Hall. Revel in the beauty of its staircase, upstairs dress circle, and spend a moment in quiet reflection at the Town Hall honour board.
EATS & DRINKS
Owned and operated by two local women passionate about food, Gather York is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious, home-made afternoon tea. A local’s tip: their grazing platters and picnic hampers are worth every penny! Kids can let loose at the onsite playground, while the adults can browse the quirky collectibles within the Flour Mill Emporium.
Grab a coffee and a bite at Bellissimo York. We recommend the eggs benedict, big breakfast or salmon and scrambled eggs.
The Imperial Homestead
In York’s heart, The Imperial Homestead plates up reimagined pub classics, alongside modern Australian cuisine, with fresh and seasonal ingredients. The venue was built in 1886 to service travellers on the newly-extended railway during the Gold Rush and has since been fully restored, fitted with handcrafted dining tables and dotted with features teeming with history.
From coffee and cake to brunch, Botanicalia specialise in fixing a breakfast bite and your favourite morning brew. And the heritage building home to the local favourite was actually built in the 1880s by William Dinsdale as a saddlery and shoe emporium.
Settlers House York
Known for their chicken parmigiana, scotch fillet steak and beer battered barramundi, if you’re down for a drink around an open log fire and casual dining, Settlers House York is your place.
A trip to York reflects a quintessential country experience, guided by exploration, history and nature. So, whether you’re a culture nerd, outdoor enthusiast or somewhere in between, the destination only a stone’s throw from Perth is sure to charm even the toughest of critics.
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