Tuesday, October 8, 2013

T is for TOODYAY

TOODYAY is a town in the wheatbelt region in the Avon Valley, 85 kilometres (53 miles) north-east of Perth in Western Australia.  It is connected to Perth by railway and road.

The original village of Toodyay was one of the earliest inland towns in Western Australia.  A habitat of the Ballardong Noongar people for thousands of years, the Avon River valley was discovered by Ensign Robert Dale in 1830, leading to exploration by settlers including James Drummond, Captain Francis Whitfield and Alexander Anderson.  This is the memorial to botanist James Drummond. in Pelham Reserve, overlooking the Toodyay townsite:

The first village was established in 1836.  Drummond established his homestead "Hawthornden" nearby.  The original location was subject to flooding which led to its abandonment in the 1850s, and a new townsite was established on higher ground 2 km (1.2 miles) upstream.  This was gazetted in 1860 as "Newcastle" and the original settlement came to be referred to as "Old Toodyay".  In May 1910, due to confusion with the New South Wales city of Newcastle, a name-change to Toodyay was proposed and the original townsite, which had by this time declined substantially, became "West Toodyay".

In 1861, Western Australia's notorious bushranger Moondyne Joe was imprisoned in Toodyay for stealing a horse, but escaped.  After a series of crimes and prison terms he was on the run again, returning to Toodyay in 1865 to steal supplies for an attempt to escape overland to South Australia. The annual Moondyne Festival is a light-hearted celebration of this darker side of Toodyay's history.

The Newcastle Gaol, in Clinton Street, completed in 1864, was in use as a state prison until 1909. It is now preserved as a heritage building and tourist attraction, the Old Gaol Museum. The old gaol:

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 20th century.  Saved from demolition in the 1970s, and restored to demonstrate the milling process and machinery, the mill now forms the museum section of the Toodyay Visitor Centre.

The Heritage Council of Western Australia lists well over one hundred places of historical significance in or near Toodyay, including cottages (some of which are now ruins), homesteads, shops. churches. parks and railway constructions.  Its State Register of Heritage Buildings include the Gaol, Connor's Mill:

Toodyay Public Library (built in 1874), the old Toodyay Post Office (designed by George Templeton-Pool and built in 1897) and the old Toodyay Fire Station (designed by Ken Duncan, and built in 1938), as well as several other historic sites.  The historic architecture of shops and residences along the main street, Stirling Terrace, presents a distinctive frontage termed the Stirling Terrace Streetscape Group. Stirling Terrace as seen in 2013:

Some of the buildings are also listed on the Australian Heritage Database.  They include the Freemasons Hotel (built 1861),  the Victoria Hotel (late 1890s), and Old Unwin's Store on Stirling Terrace, and Butterly's Cottage (ca 1870) on Harper Road.  This is the old court house which is now used as Shire of Toodyay offices:

Being an hour's drive from Perth, Toodyay is a popular venue for tourists.  A picturesque circuit of Toodyay Road through Gidgegannup, Toodyay, Chittering Valley and Great Northern Highway attracts motorists and motorcyclists.  (We have driven around these areas many times over past years and it is always most enjoyable.  You can spend a full day just checking out the historical places and enjoying the lovely scenery.  Years ago I had a truly great Australian meal of t-bone steak, mushrooms, chips and salad.  One of the best meals I've ever eaten).  Other destinations include olive oil farms, lavender farms, holiday retreats, hotels, restaurants, caravan parks, an emu farm and an archery park.

A major bushfire, blamed on collapsed power lines, broke out at about noon on 29th December, 2009 after outdoor temperatures had reached 45.4ºC (113.7ºF) and the 'catastrophic' fire risk rating had been used for the first time in Western Australia.  Areas to the south, south-west and east of Toodyay were affected, with more than 3,000 hectares (7,410 acres) of forest burnt and 38 homes lost.


  1. Sounds like a lovely town - I also like how the name seems like a play on "Today - YAY!" How is it recovering after the bushfires? Our visit to Melbourne last year included a trip to Kinglake, a town severely affected. They were admirably recovering, but the scars were still visible.

    PS: Now you've got me craving t-bone steak!

    1. You're right. It does sound sort of celebratory!!! People here seem to recover quite well after disasters. I guess it's the Aussie spirit.
      I have a penfriend of many years who lives in Kinglake and her daughter lost her home in the fires. They were holidaying in Tasmania when it happened and I managed to get through to them via Red Cross to make sure they were all OK. I fear this year is going to be bad for fires right across Australia but we must hope for the best and be careful.
      Thanks for popping by PPMJ.

  2. Fascinating. We do celebrate our bushrangers don't we?
    And yes, I too hope the area is recovering after the fires. Which scare me.

  3. Fires terrify me as well. I think I mentioned some time back that mum and dad lost their farm house before I was born and with it everything they had brought with them from England. Not a bushfire though thank goodness although bad enough.
    Bushrangers? Yes, perhaps I may do a blog about our notorious Moondyne Joe who apparently was quite a character.

  4. I like the Stirling Terrace streetscape, those buildings are wonderful.
    I like the sound of your "best meal" too. Steak and chips and salad is one of my favourites.

    1. Toodyay really is a lovely town. It may have been in one of those buildings I had that special meal. Can't afford t-bone steaks too often these days and is it my imagination, was the meat back then much tastier and more tender?

    2. Meat back then was grass fed and naturally grown, so much nicer to eat. These days the animals are force fed to grow as fast as possible and fed in feed lots instead of roaming the fields, they get grains instead of grass and it shows in the texture and lack of taste. I try to buy grass fed beef when I want a steak and only have a tiny one that fits inside the palm of my hand.

  5. Hari OM
    ...I was checking the date thinking I had slipped to April 1st... then realised it really is Toodilypip...&*> Toodayay, what a great name. As always, your write up is both informative and inviting! YAM xx

  6. Yes, Toodyay is a great name isn't it? We have some rather unusual names of towns all over Australia.
    Glad you enjoyed the story of this wonderful country town. xx

  7. Two years ago, I was visiting friends in Perth and we drove out to Toodyay and I enjoyed the drive out there very much and the town was very quaint.
    Apparently they had had good rain in the whole area, explaining why the drive was so green and lush. It was a truly wonderful day.
    Was lovely to see you visiting my blog Mimsie.
    Take care.

  8. My mother, Enid Alison Teague was born in Toodyay, and along with her mother (Florence Mary) and father (Linden Stafford Teague) lived there for quiet some time.