Monday, 16 October 2017


Last night Jan confessed she was going out of her mind with boredom being stuck in the house with little to do.  I have the bed and 4x4 projects to keep me occupied during the day and the computer projects in the evening.  Therefore I’m not suffering…. except from too much work!

To break the monotony we decided to go for a drive.  West quickly takes you into the Indian Ocean, so I decided to go east.  We’ve never travelled up the Avon Valley to Toodyay and therefore decided that would be today’s destination.  It’s approximately 100km from Perth.


The early European settlers had a habit of naming locations in their new country after places they had left behind.  Toodyay is no exception, being initially known as Newcastle until it was renamed at the beginning of the 20th Century.  The Avon Valley and River Avon obviously have a connection to England.  Although over the centuries the pronunciation has changed.  In the UK it’s the River A-von whilst in Western Australia it’s the ave-on (ave as in have).

Every year, at the end of winter, the Avon Descent is held.  The descent is a two day water event on the river.  Powered and unpowered craft of all types attempt to transit the 124km as quickly as possible.


As you can see…….. the roads are not all that busy


Once over the Darling Ranges we are in the Western Australian wheat belt.

Toodyay is a typical rural Australian town with most of the original buildings in a line either side of the main road.


The pubs (hotels) all tend to be two story with an ornate upper and lower veranda at the front.



The early settlers quickly realised English style homes were not suitable in the hot and dry Australian climate.  A unique local design started to appear.  Building had steeply pitched rooves allowing the heat to escape into the roof cavity.  Walls were thick with small windows to keep out the heat.  A covered veranda encircled the house providing further shade and preventing direct sunlight from reaching the windows


In 1870 a steam powered mill was built to grind the local grain.  It was subsequently converted to generate electricity


The post office has been converted into a store selling local fresh produce.


The railway arrived long before motor vehicles.  Toodyay’s railway station has survived.  Probably because the route of the main rail line from the eastern states was diverted through Toodyay in the mid 1960’s.


Except for NSW and Tasmania all Australian States have at least two rail gauges.  The main interstate line in Western Australia is Standard Gauge and the remainder of the network is Narrow Gauge.

By coincidence Toodyay was holding it’s monthly Farmers Market today.  Both of us noticed how small it was in comparison to UK markets.


We visited the local bakery and purchased a hot drink.  On returning to the 4x4 we discovered it had handy cup holders in the dash.


The Avon River


We retraced our route for a few kilometres noticing the water pipeline adjacent to the road.


Towards the end of the 19th Century gold had been found around Kalgoorlie some 550km from Perth.  The area was hot and dry with little local water.  Thousands of prospectors and others had flocked to the region and the State government decided to build a pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorlie.    The scheme was devised by CY O’Connor an Irish engineer.  Many people, including the political opposition, thought the scheme wasn’t feasible and would bankrupt the state.  O’Connor came under tremendous pressure over his scheme committing suicide some 12 months before the project was completed.  After the scheme was completed the government held an inquiry and found no basis for the press accusations of corruption or misdemeanours on the part of O'Connor. 

We decided to head south towards Northam and the main highway back into Perth opting to take the longer ‘scenic’ route.  Actually I think it was just the winding old road.


There are large grain holding a distribution centres across the wheat belt.  The grain is delivered to the centre from the farms by truck (lorry) and then moved by rail.   The majority of it goes to the ports for export


We never actually made it into Northam opting to divert onto the Great Eastern Highway and head back to Perth.


This is the main highway into Western Australia.  The equivalent of the M1.  Busy, isn’t it! Smile


Quaysider said...

I've been thinking about Jan... pernhaps you could send her over here to work as our galley slave/house-keeper... we're amazed how quickly the boat gathers dust when neither of us can face doing it!

Tom and Jan said...

Be careful about what you wish for....... Jan is very good at giving orders!

me said...

I think that the River Avon could have been named after one of the two Scottish rivers of that name?

Tom and Jan said...

I did some further searching and the only historical link regarding the naming of the Avon River suggests it was named by Governor Stirling after the River Avon in England.

Jenny said...

So interesting to read about what you found on your drive to Toodyay and back. There is always plenty of interesting things to see. You mentioned you purchased a hot drink at the market - did you also buy something yummy to go with it?

Robin and Jenny, Romany Rambler

Tom and Jan said...

Jenny they had some long necked south american sheep at one of the market stalls but we decided against buying one. :-) Neither of us was hungry so we stayed away from the burger and hotdog stalls.