Thursday, January 06, 2011

Weird and Wonderful Places around Perth - North East

One of Several Motoring Themed Cafes in York
I've maligned Perth and Western Australia a bit too. Tucked away between all those brash, nouveau riche brick piles, or away from those contiguous subdivisions, there are some nice places  as well. Having been recently reunited with some of these photos, I'll just jot down a few things here. For some reason it's very hard to get cohesive tourist information in Perth and usually you have wander around and discover most of these things yourself.

York, Toodyay and Beverley

These inland towns which date from the 1830's all have a certain charm, especially for those who love old cars, motorbikes, aereoplanes or just a bit of nostalgia.

York, established in 1831 and which prides itself on being the oldest inland town, has both an aviation and a motoring history. People sip coffee outside on its crooked streets and Twenties music drifts from one of several antique shops. The old fashioned lolly shop is a treat, as is the Mill by the railway line which houses a restaurant and a three storey gallery with prices you wouldn't believe.
One of my personal favourites because it was so unexpected, is the real estate office in the front parlour of an old house, replete with stuffed armchairs, old prints and lights. Even the few empty shops have interesting displays.

Give me that Old Time Music! Just one of many little yesteryear shops in York


Main Street, York, looking south 
A peek inside the Motor Museum

Not that you have to go inside the Motor Museum to see fine old cars. There were several in residence on both occasions that I was here

York has many substantial old buildings, especially old pubs, though reading the sign on this one, I didn't feel qualified to go in, being neither a couple nor respectable

Not sure how I managed to miss this fine old mill the first time around. Maybe because it is off the main street. The artwork may be expensive but its cafe serves decent coffee 

The Old Town Hall, York

There are temptations galore in the Penny Farthing Sweet Shop
 One of my favourites. This is a real estate office. Loved the vintage posters, the cosy looking floral armchairs, the fireplace and the flowers - like going into someone's parlour.

What I like most about this town however, is that it is not a museum. It is alive with people going about their business or enjoying themselves. It has not only served the pastoral industry and travellers for a long time, but continues to reinvent itself without losing its charm.It also has a very popular jazz festival.
For those who find York just a bit too busy and a bit too trendy, there is always Toodyay, a bit further down the track.


Toodyay is a bit more country, a bit more laid - back and seems to be more favoured by motor cyclists. The buildings are a bit more modest, though it also has a big old mill on the main street too and several large old pubs. The park by the river  has nice picnic areas and a little train which  no doubt makes the place attractive to families.

Motorbikes outside the Mill in Toodyay
Main Street, Toodyay.
Pub and Billiard Hall, Toodyay
Post Office Toodyay
Its Icecream Parlour and Coca Cola Museum are among the main attractions
Did I mention that there were a lot of motorbikes in Toodyay?
(Western Australian weather is great for motor bike riding, drying washing and outdoor cinemas, of which there are several).
Poor Beverley, which has equally interesting architecture is alas, some hundred kilometres further down the track – two hundred from Perth, probably a bit too far to attract as many weekenders. It has an air museum- Australia’s biggest peacetime air disaster happened near here - and a really impressive railway station.

Beverley has a number of fine Art Deco Buildings  including its Town Hall

 ....and Pub 
Part of the lovely old Railway Station, Beverley

 Air Museum, Beverley, scene of Australia's biggest peacetime Air Disaster

The Railtrail
In a similar vein, following the old railway lines yields some charming old buildings especially lots of enormous pubs with big verandahs and lovely old shade trees - a big plus in this climate. The one at Parkerville is said to be haunted and usually has a lot of motorbikes parked outside. At Swanview there is a long tunnel which was a major engineering feat in its day. The distances between stations were short and in the absence of trains there is now a very lovely walking trail which also lends itself to cycling and has frequent stops for refreshments. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost most of these photos.
The Inn at Mahogany Creek dates from 1842 and began life as a colonial barracks intended to keep the travelling public safe on the Great Eastern Highway. It was one of several places from which bushranger Moondyne Joe escaped. [Moondyne Joe didn't rob stage coaches or travellers. It seemed that his greatest offence was stealing a judge's horse followed by his legendary tendency to escape from any place in which he was confined]. I loved the atmosphere in this place (and its iced coffee) with its low ceilings, worn slate floors and narrow staircases. It seems to me that these older places are all the more precious in a place where so little of the past - and it's a short past at that - remains.


The Mahogany Inn - A pleasant trip back in time


The Perth Hills and Kalamunda
The Perth Hills and Kalamunda are on this route too and offer  lovely wildflowers in the season, beautiful old trees and great views at any time of year. It was an area much favoured by artists, although few could afford to live there now. Now it seems to be mostly orthodonists and dog salons, but the bonus is a collection of nice cafes, craft and gift shops and a French bakery where dogs are welcome. Both Kalamunda and Darlington still have well patronised arts festivals every year. Round about are vineyards and orchards which have wonderful fresh figs and peaches in the season which runs from about October to March. At Bickley, in pleasantly landscaped surroundings, there is the Perth Observatory begun in 1896 and Australia's oldest continuously operating one. Perth is also a great place to view the stars.

Between the Great Eastern Highway and Kalamunda is the Mundaring Weir which supplies the water to the Eastern Goldfields 500 km away and all the places in between - voted by the Institute of Engineers as one of the great engineering achievements. Ah yes, they knew how to build public utilities in the 1900's.
 
No. 1 Pumphouse, the mother of them all which pumped water uphill to Kalgoorlie, 500 km away.
 
The spectacular No. 1 Pumphouse is now  a museum and the other industrial buildings have little towers and flourishes. This area is also pleasantly landscaped with several walks and some shady picnic facilities  and a memorial to the great engineer C.Y. O'Connor whose brainchild it was, on the hill above. What a shame that he was appreciated so much more after his untimely suicide a few days before the pipeline was opened, than while he was alive.
It is however, a refereshingly green place to be on those really hot summer days which WA is very good at, having more days of sunshine than any other state. There are some great stone buildings, stories and a pleasant looking pub in the former construction village behind it and also a rather lovely National Park. Over Summer the Park also runs the Kookaburra Starlight Cinema on Friday and Saturday nights with overnight camping for a small fee. Better book though if you are planning to stay, as it's really popular!

 One of the small pumphouses which controlled water flow from the dam. I liked the way C19th industrial architecture was not just about utilityand function

There are green picnic spots above and below the dam

Guildford
Closer to Perth and at the junction of the main arteries to the North and East is Guildford. Though it doesn't look all that promising at first because you have to wade through its rather hardscrabble exterior, it has a lovely main street with lots of second hand shops, colonial history and railway workshops which now house galleries and part of the Arts School. As well being one of the first places to be settled, it was already a major transport hub before there were roads, being on the Avon River which serviced places like York before the roads came through. Guildford was also the first place that grapes were planted in Western Australia.

The Main Street in Guildford is abuzz with antique shops and boutiques
With amazing collections of stuff inside and out

Nice old shopfronts and some interesting eateries and boutiques

The Old Vaudeville Theatre is now a Natural History Museum

Alas, only a burnt out shell remains of the Guildford Hotel, but there are plenty of others!

The Swan Valley

Lovers of wine, beer, food and coffee will also appreciate the strip along the Great Northern Highway from Guildford to the Swan Valley. This has a branch of the Margaret River Chocolate Factory, The Mondo Nougat Factory, several boutique Breweries including Elmar's, Moo Brew and The Feral which has a few ales with interesting names. In between are vineyards with wine and cheese tastings, coffee shops, restaurants and a gallery or two.

 Illusions Gallery, along the Great Northern Highway

 Inside

 The Jude Taylor Studio has an interesting mix of food and artwork as well

 Too bad I don't drink beer or I might have been tempted by Feral Cow or Razorback at the Feral Brewery, one of at least three in this area

No comments: