Toodyay - Western Australia

 

 

TOODYAY

 

GPS 31 33 16 S 116 28 09 E

 

 

 

 

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Bolgart

Goomalling

Nearby Towns

Midland

Northam

 

 

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STATISTICS

Distance from Perth

85 Km

Population

1323

Average Rainfall

520.3mm

Mean Max Temp

23C

Mean Min Temp

10.8C

 

SERVICES

Police

08 9574 9555

Fire and Rescue

08 9574 2620

Medical

08 9574 2300

Visitor Centre

08 9574 2435

 

CARAVAN PARKS

Toodyay

08 9574 2534

Avonbanks

08 9574 5010

 

HOTEL / MOTEL / B and B

Victoria Hotel

08 9574 2206

Freemasons Hotel

08 9574 2201

Ipswich View B and B

08 9574 4038

Hoddywell Cottage

0419 221 212

The Limes Farmstay

08 9574 4810

Amber Spring Gardens

0409 181 404

Avalon Homestead

08 9574 5050

Black Wattle Retreat

08 9574 4086

Pelican Hill

08 9574 2636

 

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

 

 

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link to Mingor.net website

 

DESCRIPTION

 

Toodyay is a popular day trip from Perth (along with Northam and York) especially during the spring and early summer months.

The town has many beautiful heritage buildings and is set in the Avon valley. There are many attractions in the area that has been recognised as having great tourism potential since the 1920s.

Toodyay is classified as a historic town by the National Trust.

The area was, and remains, an important agricultural zone. Tourism is now also a major factor in the region's economy and there are a number of farm stays and B and Bs dotted through the picturesque countryside.

There are several scenic drives but if you would like to leave your car at home, there is always the Avon-Link train that arrives from Perth.

 

HISTORY

 

The area was first explored by Ensign Robert Dale in 1831 and area for the townsite was set aside in 1836. Although the townsite was not formally surveyed until 1849, there were already a number of buildings present including the police barracks that had been constructed in 1842.

A new townsite was surveyed in 1860 as the old site was found to be flood prone. The Aborigines were well aware of the flooding problems and it is said that they joked that even kangaroos got bogged in the mud.

The new site was gazetted in 1861 and was named Newcastle in honour of the Secretary of State of the Colonies, the Duke of Newcastle.

The original site (still referred to as Toodyay) still contained a few buildings but by 1910 they had all been demolished.

There was some confusion between Newcastle in the eastern states and Newcastle in W.A. so finally in 1911 the new site was re-named Toodyay.

The name is thought to derive from the Aboriginal word 'duidgee' which means place of plenty. (Another possible source for the name is an Aboriginal woman called Toodyeep who with her husband Coondebung accompanied Dale on his expedition in 1831.)

The Gaol once held Moondyne Joe, a bush-ranger of some repute, who escaped captivity on a number of occasions. Other outlaws who haunted the district included James Lilly and Michael Nollan.

On the 8th of November 1860, Lilly's bushranging career came to an end and Houghton's Inn (this may be the same place Moondyne Joe was captured). Lilly had come to the inn and threatened to inn keeper who sensibly did nothing to antagonise the armed criminal. Instead he plied him with alcohol until Lilly passed out. The law was quickly summoned and after a short struggle Lilly was safely locked up.

The explorer Giles arrived in the town after an expedition that crossed the Great Victoria Desert, he made the following note in his diary:

"We were received under a triumphal arch, and the chairman presented us with an address. We were then conducted to a sumptuous banquet. Near the conclusion, the chairman rose to propose our healths, etc; he then gratified us by speaking disparagingly of us and our journey, he said he didn't see what we wanted to come over here for, that they had plenty of explorers of their own etc. This was something like getting a hostile native's spear stuck into one's body."

Relations between 'sand gropers' (West Australians) and Eastern Staters have always been a bit prickly but this was a bit much after such a journey.

After the spearing of Peter Chidlow and Edward Jones (See York for more information) their grant was taken up by J.T. Cooke. The Aborigines who had murdered Chidlow and Jones were still in the area so a request was made for protection to be made available. Two troopers were sent up from York but were not present when the Aborigines bailed up two shepherds who were in Waylen's employ. The Aborigines took some wheat and then returned the following day in greater numbers. By this time the troopers had arrived, a melee ensued inside the shepherd's hut and several natives were shot. Their bodies were buried near the doorway to the hut and due to the superstitious nature of the tribes, they stayed away from the site from then on - much to the relief of the shepherds.

Toodyay was a difficult place to get to in the early years, especially in winter when rains closed the track to Midland and goods had to be transported via York. This led to excessive freight charges that were said to rise up to 25 pounds a ton. This was an incredible amount as it was 800% more than bringing freight from England to Australia. The result of this was that settlers who lived in the Toodyay area were forced to make items (especially furniture) locally or to do without.

In the 1840s there was a world wide depression in trade goods and the prices of stock plummeted. Sheep that had sold for 6 pounds were now worth only 6 shillings, cows had dropped from 30 to 5 pounds and horses had dropped from 100 to 20 pounds. People who had come to the colony with capital and high hopes were now watching heir investments dwindle.

Sheep that had once been valued assets were now being boiled down to make tallow. Curing hides and pickling mutton were also tried as sidelines to tallow making and some people (like Walter Padbury) managed to make money while others floundered.

Over the Christmas - New Year period, settlers from the Avon Valley would usually try to be in Perth, both to take produce to market and to re-supply. This was also one of the few times of the year that people got to socialise and relax.

When Northam was selected as the terminus for the railway to the goldfields, Toodyay went into a long period of decline. As early as 1885 businesses had been closing up and moving away but as the goldfields developed there was a new surge of activity. Even so it was Northam that won the fight for supremacy in the end and Toodyay slipped into a role as a quiet backwater.

Connor's Mill was built for Daniel Connor around 1870 by George Hassel. In 1917 the mill was converted into a power station for the town. After a fire in 1921 destroyed all internal machinery and a gas power plant was installed. The power house closed in 1955 and in 1975 the restoration of the building began. The mill now demonstrates the milling process with working machinery.

 

TALL TALES AND TRUE

 

The tale of Moondyne Joe.

 

The display in Connor's Mill provides information on this interesting and larger-than-life character. Click the link above to read more about him.

 

Industrial sabotage.

 

The first wheat stripper brought into W.A. by Major Irwin was not initially successful as it was used on unripe crops. Later when tried on a fully ripe crop it proved to be worth while as it stripped and threshed the wheat in one action. Farm workers saw this new fangled contraption as a threat and the following season when it was brought out to strip a crop the 180 pound comb had 'mysteriously' vanished.

When George Whittfield brought another machine over in 1845 it was said that he slept beside it with a loaded gun.

 

Not a 'Fair Cop'.

 

Native Constable, James Betts, was bringing in an Aboriginal prisoner when he decided he needed to have a sleep. In order to make sure his prisoner did not escape, Betts handcuffed the prisoner to him while he slept. Seeing his big chance to escape the prisoner picked up a rock, knocked Betts unconscious and the searched his pockets for the key and escaped into the bush.

 

MAP

 

 

VIDEO

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Video available from October 4th 2023

 

 

OTHER INFORMATION

 

ATTRACTIONS

 

Avon National Park, Coorinja Winery - one of the state's oldest, Connor's mill, Brotherhood steam engine, Newcastle park, Old Gaol Museum, Reservoir lookout, Duidgee park, Pecan hill, Gabidine Spring, Windmill Hill, Cartref Park, Pelham Reserve, Hoddywell archery park, Farmer's markets (third Sunday of each month), Agricultural show (second Saturday in October), Fibre festival (June long weekend), Moondyne festival (first Sunday of May), Space Place Observatory.

 

BUILDINGS OF NOTE

 

Old gaol, Clinton St. 1865. Old Mill, Stirling Tce. 1870. Freemanson's Hotel, Stirling Tce. 1891. St. Stephens church 1862. Unwin's store 1899. Ellery Arcade 1890s. Memorial hall 1899. Post Office 1897. Victoria Hotel 1864. Mechanics Institute 1874. Newcastle Hotel 1863.

 

ELECTORAL ZONES

 

State : Moore

Federal : Pearce

 

OTHER INFO.

 

Postcode : 6566

Local Government : Shire of Toodyay

 

PHOTOS

Click on a thumbnail to see full sized picture.

 

 

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