Toodyay and surrounding areas are host to many festivals and events throughout the year. Toodyay is classified as an Historic Town by the National Trust and as such many of the historic buildings continue to be used as a functioning part of the town.
Click on a link below to find out more information about what you can do during your stay in Toodyay.
TOODYAY - PLACE OF PLENTY
The name of Toodyay is believed to be derived from an Aboriginal word “Diudgee” which means “place of plenty” which refers to the richness and fertility of the area and the Avon River.
Toodyay was founded in 1831 by Ensign Dale, after explorers came down the Avon River and found the tracks of cows that had strayed from the lower valleys where the Swan River meets the Avon River. The original settlement was established on the banks of the Avon River, five kilometres west of the present town site. However, due to bad floods in the wet season, the town was moved to its current location in 1860 and named “Newcastle” after Lord Lincoln, Duke of Newcastle.
In 1911 the original name of Toodyay was adopted once more to avoid postal confusion with Newcastle in NSW. The Shire of Toodyay spans a total area of 1683 square kilometres and boasts some of the most magnificent examples of natural and cultural heritage in Western Australia.
The town site of Toodyay is located approximately 85 kilometres east of Perth in the scenic Avon Valley, an easy drive along Toodyay Road.
TOODYAY'S LIVING HISTORY
The town of Toodyay displays fine examples of 19th Century history with architecture reflecting the early convict era. Many of its historic buildings continue to be used as a functioning part of the town and great care has been taken to retain the genuine aspects of its architecture.
Toodyay is classified as an Historic Town by the National Trust. Toodyay is truly a cultural and historic jewel set in the glorious undulating heart of the pristine Avon Valley offering visitors a unique country experience. No matter what season you decide to visit, there is always something to see or do in the renowned Western Australia town and its surrounding countryside.
Historic buildings still standing today include the Old Courthouse, the Mechanics Institute (Toodyay Library), the Newcastle Gaol Museum and Connors Mill.
In 1870, a steam-driven flour mill, Connor's Mill, was built on Stirling Terrace by George Hasell. The mill was also used to generate electricity in the early part of the twentieth century. Saved from demolition in the 1970's, and restored to demonstrate the milling process and machinery, the mill now forms the museum section of the Toodyay Visitors Centre.
Newcastle Gaol Museum
Built in the 1860’s using convict labour, this Heritage listed building has recently undergone extensive restoration and renovation. Newcastle Gaol presents Toodyay’s history amongst the cells and living quarters of a 19th century prison and police stables.
In 1861, Western Australia's best known bushranger, Moondyne Joe, was imprisoned in Toodyay for stealing a horse, but escaped. After a series of crimes and gaol terms, he was on the run again, returning to Toodyay in 1865 to steal supplies for an attempt to escape overland to South Australia.
Toodyay is the ideal destination for a day trip or weekend retreat. Located just one hour’s drive east of Perth, nestled in a valley between scenic hills. The town presents perfect examples of the 19th Century architecture, while at the same time retaining its own unique country charm with verandah-clad pubs and shops.
Flowing through Toodyay is the beautiful Avon River which is home to the world’s longest white water race, the Avon Descent, held in August each year. Perfect for picnics, Duidgee Park features playgrounds, BBQ facilities and public amenities and the Toodyay Miniature Railway.
Toodyay boasts an abundance of quality accommodation, featuring beautifully restored heritage-listed hotels, romantic five star rural retreats, cosy bed and breakfasts and quiet shady caravan parks with self contained chalets and tourist sites.
Whatever your choice, you can find the ideal country getaway in Toodyay. Experience the delights of fine or casual dining with award winning cafes, restaurants and taverns. Your charming dining experience is perfectly complemented by a visit to one of the local wineries, each renowned for their own unique qualities and charisma. The wines provided in Toodyay are predominantly dry grown and are intense in colour and flavour. There are also many olive groves, which thrive in the Mediterranean-like climate.
Wander the street visiting the unique antique and craft shops of Toodyay or drive to a tourist destination to view the work of the local artisans that specialise in handcrafted pottery, wood turning and sculpting and pick up an original art piece. Peruse the local producers of emu and alpaca products, lavender soaps and oils and fresh organic honey.
Relax and meander around the antique and craft shops in town and check out the Coca Cola Museum or take a tour of the wildflowers when in season. For the more active, there is a golf course and bowling club.
Treat yourself to the ideal country getaway or weekend escape, experience Toodyay, the Valley for All Seasons.
TOODYAY EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
Toodyay Miniature Railway Easter-November
Moondyne Festival May
Avon Descent August
International Food Festival August
Wildflower Season August-November
Targa West Rally September
Toodyay Picnic Races October
Agricultural Show October
Christmas Street Party December
TOODYAY MINIATURE RAILWAY
The Toodyay Miniature Railway has passenger carrying trains which it runs from Easter to November.
A lucky family may book a ride on the miniature Avonlink or the steam engine.
The railway runs along the Avon River and winds its way through the countryside over 2 bridges, through a tunnel, past Turtle Crossing, and passengers can wave to the emus and kangaroos sitting in the paddock before returning to the station.
The Toodyay Miniature Railway operates from 11am - 3 pm every Sunday during September and October and Wednesdays of the school holidays. During November the train runs on every 1st and 3rd Sunday.
MOONDYNE JOE FESTIVAL
The annual Moondyne Festival is a light-hearted celebration of this darker side of Toodyay's history.
“Moondyne Joe”, whose real name was Joseph Bolitho Johns, was a Ticket of Leave man who came out on the “Pyrenees” in 1853. Aged 22, tall and with black hair, he was apparently agile and excelled in handling horses.
He gained his conditional pardon in 1855 and lived at Toodyay, breaking in horses for a living. The Resident Magistrate had him apprehended on a charge of horse stealing and placed him in the depot Lockup near the Magistrate’s house.
Joe Johns escaped that night and cheekily stole his horse, plus the Magistrate’s hack, saddle and bridle to make good his escape. The Magistrate wrote a wrathful letter to the Governor demanding a new gaol.
“Moondyne Joe” began his career as a gaol breaker and was the person indirectly responsible for the building of the new gaol which was begun soon afterwards in 1862.
He had many friends among the people of the district, who considered that the Magistrate had been harsh as well as self-important. They were amused by Joe’s escapades and are said to have aided him.
On one occasion he was supposed to have used a table fork to scrape away soft mortar and remove stones in his cell wall. He then supposedly hid in the Magistrate’s hay loft while the police scoured the town and country side for him.
Once he escaped with other prisoners and made the mistake of joining them in raiding settler’s homes and taking a six-barrelled pistol. This lost him a lot of sympathy, but legends of an audacious gaol breaker grew with the years.
He later worked in the timber country of the South West and led a respectable life. He and his wife went to Southern Cross at the time of the gold rushes and she died there.
Attracting international competitors, the Avon Descent is the world's longest white water event and contains both motor boats and manual powered kayaks. Sit on the banks of the Avon River or watch from the many bridges in and around Toodyay. Feel the prickle of excitement as the competitors battle vicious rapids and harrowing tree infested shallows. Catch all the action in Toodyay.
The Avon Descent is Western Australia’s own unique sporting event that attracts competitors and spectators from throughout Australia and overseas. Competitors challenge the Avon and Swan Rivers in a variety of paddle and power craft in an exciting two-day time trial over 134 gruelling kilometres.
The Avon Descent was first held in 1973 with just 49 competitors, no rules, no officials, no checkpoints and very few spectators. In the years since, over 25,000 people have competed in the Avon Descent, from novices and families, to World and Olympic Champions. The Avon Descent has all of the ingredients of a highly visual, interactive and spectacular event.
INTERNATIONAL FOOD FESTIVAL
At the same time enjoy the culinary delights of the International Food Festival at Duidgee Park on the banks of the river on the first Saturday in August between 10am and 4pm. There is plenty of parking for coaches and a heated marquee awaits you while you dine. Free children's activities, dance demonstrations, live musicians and a live race commentary - a guaranteed perfect day in Toodyay!
WILDFLOWER SEASON IN TOODYAY
Spring in Toodyay is an experience to travel for! Only an hour’s drive out of Perth you can experience the vibrant colours and smells of spring. Take a drive and "Smell" Spring in Toodyay.
The flowers abound in their magnificent colours, shapes, sizes and textures to delight. Walking down Stirling Terrace the smell of lavender permeates the air, the roses are flowering, the air is fresh and exhilarating as the mist lifts from the hills for the day.
The surrounding countryside bursts with the colours of spring, in all varieties of wildflowers, and a vast array of animals and insects. Pick up a Wildflower map and set off to delight your senses with this wonderful time of the year.
TARGA WEST RALLY
The Inaugural Targa West Rally is an exciting and highly prestigious tarmac rally which will be run in various Toodyay locations. This rally is one of the premier motor sport events in WA and will satisfy those seeking the thrill of a world class race.
Come and watch world class rally action as it comes to the streets of Toodyay and take advantage of joining the competitors after the day's rallying to share tall stories, engage in lively debate and reminisce over an unbelievable day behind the wheel. A truly unique experience not only for the motor-sport enthusiasts.
TOODYAY PICNIC RACES
The Toodyay Race Club presents its annual picnic race day in October. The feature race of the day is the sponsored Toodyay Cup.
The day is a great family day with free children’s entertainment on-course. A live band will entertain guests during the day and after the last race. Fashions of the field are always a great experience and with some very special prizes this year for ladies and gents, patrons would be foolish not to enter.
Pack your picnic, get a group of friends together and hire a marquee or treat yourself to a 5 star racing experience in the corporate marquee, whatever your desire and budget, the Toodyay Picnic Race Day is a great day out.
The Toodyay Agricultural Show displays unique exhibits by local artists and crafters, demonstrations by local groups and some of the kookiest varieties of farmyard animals compete for the much sought after "best in show" awards.
Experience the fun of a country fair with displays, local produce, clowns, sheep dog trials, wood chopping competitions, equestrian events, musical entertainment, children's rides, the annual Ute push, Clydesdale Carriage Races and so much more.
Enjoy a special fireworks display at 7.30 pm. A great day out for the whole family!