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Visit the historic town of York near Perth, Western Australia

Updated on October 10, 2011
The Historic public hall in the main street
The Historic public hall in the main street
The Castle Hotel
The Castle Hotel
Old Courthouse and Jail. People were hung here!
Old Courthouse and Jail. People were hung here!
The settlers Inn courtyard
The settlers Inn courtyard
Inside the award winning Kookaburra backpackers
Inside the award winning Kookaburra backpackers

Home of the famous York Motor Museum

York is Australia’s oldest inland town and it is also the home of the World famous York Motor Museum. There is plenty to see and do, so let me take you on a trip to York, Western Australia.

Situated 97km East of Perth in the Avon Valley, the serene and idyllic Avon River passes through the town.

A bit of political background first. The population is around 3500. The majority of residents are over 65, about 70%. They are ultra conservative and right wing. Because they own the houses they therefore control the local council and they are anal, generally opposing everything and anything. There have been several television current affairs news stories where people are complaining about the nazi like council. The 30% of the population who are young, are the movers and shakers in the town and try to make things happen, these are the business owners running the shops and museums, don't be afraid but be wary!!

You can get a flight from just about any country or from Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide to the capital city on the coast, Perth. From Perth take the highway to Midland, about 15 kilometres west. From Midland drive up Greenmount Hill on the main Great Eastern Highway and pass through Mundaring and then Sawyers Valley, about 5 kilometres up turn right at the Lakes BP Garage to York Road.

Drive through this winding and tree lined country road which is lined by cattle, horse and sheep farms, as well as thick bush.

The bush is full of native parrots and birds, you may even see a kangaroo or an emu. In the summer it can get up to 45 degrees celcius so make sure you fuel up and you have plenty of water.It is not unusual to see sankes or lizards on the road so be careful not to casue an accient if you swerve to miss them. In the winter the temperature can drop to -1 degrees celcius so be wary, it also can rain a lot.

After about 45 kilometres you will cross a railway line and start coming into York, the showgrounds is on your left. Just over the railway line is Jah Rock, an old historic wood mill turned into a designer art gallery and hand made Jarrah furniture showroom, it also has a fantastic little rustic restaurant attached where you can get full meals, a cappuccino or a Devonshire tea.

Drive on and turn next left at the old historic 1950’s Caltex Garage. On your left at the T intersection you will see the old original historic public hall circa 1850’s, it has a gift shop attached and a small museum. Performances and shows of all kind are still held there today.

Across the road is the Imperial Hotel also circa 1850’s. You can have a beer and a meal here and you can also stay here. Not recommended. Bad food, and bad service and up at the next intersection is the restored old Castle Hotel. Top food, service can be average. Good entertainment, they have live bands and Karaoke, and a good place to stay.

Now a word of warning, in this pub watch the locals, they are not unfriendly, but you have to watch them. There have been fights. Back packers can get work in this pub.

Along both sides of the street from this hotel, which is in the main street are plety of eclectic little cafes and health food stores as well as antique shop, gift store, book store, pie shop, pizza shop and fish and chip shop, ice cream parlour , English lolly shop as well as an IGA supermarket. Ask around town for directions to the york Winery and the olive farms where you can buy olive oil products.

Right in the middle of the main street is the old original jail and courthouse. Built in early 1820 it is still in its original condition. It has a main courthouse, a few jail cells, a stable and barracks and is well worth a look.

Next door is the world famous York Motor Museum owned by colourful entrepeneur and formerly jailed businessman Peter Briggs.

This place is amazing. It houses about 50 cars worth over 20 million dollars. It has a formula one season winning car formerly belonging to Alan Jones. It also has a Jack Brabbham original race car and a heap of old restored motorbikes from the 1920’s until the 1970’s.

There are various collectible classic, post classic, and vintage cars as well as a model car and memorabelia collection that defies belief. The entry fee is only about $15 for adults and about $5 for kids.

Across the road is the Settlers Tavern where you can get a top gourmet meal a beer and you can also stay there. It has a great courtyard with tables and chairs surrounded by an Aboriginal art gallery and an English Sweet Shop.

When you have finished here you can go down to the park along the river where there is a grassed picnic area with automatic gas firedbarbecues and seats and tables, and a great playground and public toilets. There is a swing bridge leading to an old church. Do not swim in the river, it is polluted and not safe.

Ask around town to get directions to the old 1850’s historic hospital which is haunted and has been on tv many times, it has been turned into flats now. There is a backpackers in the main street which was rated as the best in Australia, check them and the motor museum out on the internet.

Going South out of the town about 15 kilometres you will find an old quarry which is owned by Tim Burns, the artist/producer. He lives on that property which just happens to be the location for some ancient aboriginal tribal caves complete with wall paintings over ten thousand years old.

If you want to view these make sure you get permission and are accompanied by a guide, aboriginal spirits are a serious thing and you should not tempt fate by disobeying or upsetting them. Also you must be respectful to the local indigenous people called the Ballardong Tribe.

If you go North out of town from the old court house you will find the Dols family second and antique store followed by the police station on the left, about 200 metres up the road just past this is the Studio of world famous ice carver Flint Edwards, on the right hand side is where Chance Bateman the famous Hawthorn footballer lives. The Queens retried private secretary also lives in York as well.

About a kilometre out of town is the York Caravan Park. Shocking prices, bad and unfriendly service. You cannot camp in most places in York but if you go bush a bit off the beaten track you will be ok Next about another 200 metres is the old York Horse racing track which still hosts meetings. Just past this on the left is Mount Bakewell which is a mecca for hanglidlers and para gliders, on the weeekends you can almost always see them.

Going North heading towards Northam which is about 30 kilometres away you will come to the York Sky Diving School which is about 5 kilometres out on the left hand side. Here you can learn to parachute and freefall most of the time. It is free to watch and they have a café. Jumps take place all day seven days a week. They have on-site vans where you can stay. A lot of serious competition skydivers stay here and train regularly from all over the world. A jump in tandem costs about $200, look on their web page for info. Note that fiveseparate. people have died here jumping out of planes.

The police are red hot in York so behave. That’s all I can tell you about York. Email me for questions and take care thrill seekers

Know where you are and where your going!


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    • wildchild1962 profile image

      wildchild1962 6 years ago from Geraldton

      Great place to visit, thats why I wrote about it. Look out for my posts on Pert, Kalbarri and Geraldton in West Austrailia and Bacchus Marsh in Victoria and the Gold Coast in Queensland. Thanks for that and good luck travelling, you will love Australia

    • DSPickett profile image

      DSPickett 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      This sounds like it would be a terrific adventure. Oz is high on my future travel itinerary.