Toodyay the place of plenty

Toodyay's main street

Upon driving into Toodyay it looks like an attractive small town, and its name is derived from an aboriginal word that means `place of plenty’.

Toodyay is a small, historic town in the very picturesque Avon Valley just 85 kilometres east of Western Australia’s capital city Perth.

It’s just far enough out of Perth to be a popular destination for those indulging in a Sunday drive.  It has a couple of good pubs, a few good cafes, some nice parks, and it is one of those places where you can browse through an antique or curiosity shop to find an unusual bargain.  Toodyay is popular with bikers too, simply because it is a good ride to get there; it is a good main road leading to it, and a number of attractive scenic drives giving alternative routes back to Perth.

The area was first settled by Europeans in 1831, and the original town was just five kilometres west of its present location, when those settlers discovered that the ever-reliable Avon River was prone to floods, so the town was moved to its present site in 1860.

Fortunately, many of the historic buildings still remain in Toodyay, and they help it to retain its character.  The main street is runs through a narrow valley that is shielded by steep hills on either side, but the town is high enough above the river not to be too troubled by floods anymore.

The Avon River is the main tributary of the Swan River, which meanders through Perth to flow through to the Indian Ocean at the port of Fremantle.  Each winter the world’s longest white water race, the Avon Descent, begins just upriver of Toodyay in the town of Northam, and it is a great sight to see hundreds of powered boats and kayaks racing past the town.

Toodyay is primarily an agricultural region which produces mainly grain, sheep and cattle, however, other agricultural pursuits, such as wine making, olive oil production and alpaca fibres are becoming more popular.

Although floods may be a less likely hazard these days, bushfires aren’t, and much of Toodyay’s surrounding area was destroyed by recent bushfires although, thankfully, the town itself was unharmed.  The Australian bush is very hardy and requires fire to regenerate, but much damage from the fire, which wiped out many farms and homesteads, can still be seen.

Connors Mill

Each year Toodyay holds a number of events, which have become very popular.  There’s the Toodyay Picnic Races, which is more about having fun than serious punting. They hold an Avon Valley Spring Chamber Music Festival each year, for those with a love of classical music. Other events include the Moondyne Festival, which was named after a local bushranger, for which locals dress up in period 19th century costumes, and Moondyne Joe comes to town with his gang to wreak a bit of havoc and cause a lot of laughs.  No small town would be complete without its Annual Agricultural Show, and in Toodyay there’s held each October when local farmers show off their best produce, and the carnies come to town with their thrilling rides and amusements.

There is plenty of accommodation in and around Toodyay, including hotels, motels, caravan parks, B&Bs and farm stays.  Being only one hour’s drive from Perth, it is a place worth visiting, particular during wildflower season between August and November, when the countryside comes alive with colour.

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