There’s nothing like going for a drive out of the city and exploring your surrounds, and the outskirts of Perth are dotted with charming country towns that are within easy day-trip distance. As the days grow cooler, why not pop into one of the more rustic country villages that have that old-world feel about them and cosy up with a hot chocolate at the local café? Go for a stroll along the streets past quaint cottages and stop in at the old English lollyshop and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Here are some of the Perth’s quaintest old-world country towns you should visit on your next weekend out of the city.
Full of charm and hidden gems, York is one of the most historic towns near Perth. Just 1.5 hours away from Perth City, the town is filled with historical monuments including the York Town Hall, Old Courthouse and Gaol, and York Residency Museum, brimming with the rich history of 19th century Western Australia. You can’t miss the Penny Farthing Sweets Shop, located on Avon Terrace, for classic olde lolly shop feels.
Go on one of the many walks and trails to learn more about the history of the iconic town or see the stunning array of unique flora and bushland. Nature-lovers will be pleased to know that there are more than 300 species of plants and wildflowers in York. Car fanatics need to stop by the York Motor Museum, which displays a wide variety of heritage motor vehicles and motor memorabilia. If you’re seeking a thrill, York is also home to a range of aerial pursuits including skydiving and paragliding. Or, if you like your weekend activities a little more on the leisurely side, you can take a short hour drive out to the Avon Valley and cross the Avon River suspension bridge, which is the longest suspension bridge in Australia.
When you’re feeling hungry, head on down to Avon Terrace, where there are plenty of great cafes, restaurants and pubs featuring alfresco dining and a wide variety of cuisines (if you haven’t filled up on lollies already). Check out Nguyen’s Bakery Café, Bellissimo York and Botanicalia Café for a great coffee and sweet treat. At York Olive Oil & Ice Cream Co, discover award winning ice cream, jams, olive oil and artisanal bread, while surrounded by York’s beautiful nature.
Well known for its wide range of attractions, there are also a host of events happening throughout the year, including food and wine festivals, wildflower blooms and plenty of kids’ activities. You can visit our guide on York to see what’s coming up.
Just a short drive out of Perth city, the bustling town of Northam is the major commercial hub of the Avon Valley and Central Wheatbelt region, with a strong Ballardong culture. Founded in 1833, Northam was a major stop for prospectors and miners heading towards the goldfields in the 1890s and is brimming with history and tales from the time. With the second largest collection of historically significant structures in WA, it’s easy to discover the rich cultural, military and political history of Northam. Step into the past when you visit the Northam Town Hall, Old Northam Post Office, Mitchell House, and the Riverside Hotel, all built in the late 1800s. Gain an insight into Nyungar culture land management practices used by traditional owners at the Bilya Koort Boodja Interpretive & Cultural Centre for an immersive storytelling experience, along with a variety of exhibitions held throughout the year.
Northam is the home of hot air ballooning in Perth and is in fact, the only place you can go on a hot air balloon tour in all of WA . Windward Balloon Adventures offer tours from April through to November, taking you up above the morning mist.
Adrenaline junkies can go white water rafting in the Avon River with Thrill Experiences. There’s also a multitude of walks and trails that showcase the amazing nature and art and culture in Northam, including Mount Ommaney Lookout for a panoramic view of Northam and Northam Heritage Trails for a glimpse of early settler life. Events, including the Balloon Festival and Avon Descent, pop up throughout the year and are a great excuse to plan a trip out to the region.
Enjoy a home-packed picnic by the Avon River and relax with the picturesque view of the riverbed and unique white swan colony. Afterwards, go on a stroll along the Northam Suspension Bridge which, spanning more than 400 metres, is the longest suspension bridge in Southern Hemisphere. Some of the most popular cafes and restaurants in Northam include the Riverside Hotel, the Avon Bakery and Riversedge Café. With so much to do in Northam, you’re going to need more than one day there. Explore our guide to accommodation in Northam here.
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One of the three towns established by the Swan River colony in 1829, Guildford is classified as a heritage town by the National Trust of Australia and the State Register of Heritage Places. Less than 30 minutes away from Perth, it is the perfect day-trip destination and the ultimate country town to discover the fascinating convict history of Western Australia.
You will feel like you’re stepping back in time as you explore Guildford’s perfectly preserved colonial buildings, antique shops and iconic pubs, some of which were built in the mid- 1800s. With several walk trails to choose from, you can discover and explore historic sites including the Rose and Crown Hotel, Padbury’s Store, Guildford Gaol, the Courthouse and Taylor’s Cottage, to gain a sense of what it was like living in the early colonial period. Take a piece of Guildford home with you by stopping in at one of the town’s many antique and craftwork stores, such as Jones of Guildford, Relics Plus, Goodwood Antiques and Retrofind.
In terms of food, enjoy some freshly baked artisanal bread at the Guildford Town Bakery, or tuck into a hearty burger at Alfred’s Kitchen. For the ultimate breakfast experience, make sure to visit Little A’s Café, which is well known for their latte art and pancakes, and serves breakfast and lunch meals with an Asian twist. There’s also plenty of dining options within hotels, including the Guildford Hotel, Stirling Arms Hotel and Rose & Crown Hotel.
If you’re in need of a spiritual retreat, New Norcia should be next on your list of towns to visit. Enjoy the scenic landscape on the 1.5 hour drive from Perth to New Norcia as you pass through the Chittering Valley. Dubbed “a piece of Old Spain in the middle of the Australian bush”, New Norcia was settled in 1847 by Benedictine monks and is full of majestic buildings, the state’s oldest olive trees and historic church bells.
Discover the extensive collection of Mission and Monastery memorabilia, alongside European religious art and contemporary artworks at the New Norcia Museum & Art Gallery. There, you will learn more about New Norcia’s history as an Aboriginal mission, centre of agriculture and a place of education. Meet a monk in the Monastery Parlour and join them in their private chapel to join in a prayer session and learn more about monastic life.
Once you have had your fill of history and theology, you can enjoy a lunch picnic on the abundant grassed areas in New Norcia or head on down to the Salvado Roadhouse café, which is popular for its coffee and cooked breakfasts. Stay overnight at the Monastery Guesthouse to truly immerse yourself in the simple and peaceful monastic lifestyle of New Norcia.
Nestled in the hills of the Darling Range lies the peaceful Chittering Valley, north of which is the township of Bindoon. Just one hour from Perth, the region is filled with unspoilt landscape and gorgeous country scenery. Offering stunning views of wildflowers, vineyards, orchards, native bushland and wetlands, Chittering is the perfect destination for a short break away from hectic city life.
Within distance of many neighbouring towns including Gingin, York and Victoria Plains, there’s lots to do in the Chittering Valley region. Discover Chittering via walk trails or drives and take in the stunning rural scenery and local flora and wildlife. Stroll along the Djidi-Djidi Ridge Trail for remarkable views of wildflowers, wattles, parrotbush, orchids and the native Willy Wagtail.
If you’re visiting during cooler months (July – October), don’t miss the incredible display of wildflowers along many of the roads, including the Great Northern Highway and Rica Erickson Reserve on Calingri Road. Try the wide range of local produce and farmers market items from the Northern Valley’s Locavore Store and Bindoon Farmers Market. Look out for seasonal roadside stalls throughout the year offering delicious local fruit and veggies including mangoes, blueberries, avocados and tomatoes. There are also a host of farms offering fresh local products including natural bush honey and a wide range of berries. A visit the award-winning Bindoon Bakehaus is a must; they make a great variety of fresh bread, pies and pastries and have been recognised for their carrot cake, winning first place in the Bread and Pastry Awards held by the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia.
Chittering is a great spot for a weekend trip with the family, with plenty of picnic areas with BBQ facilities and parks to roam around in. With plenty of gorgeous B&Bs, farm stays and guest houses in Chittering, turn your daytrip into a weekend away and relax in the tranquil settings with the family.