Historic country towns near Perth to explore on a road trip this weekend include the old pastoral town of Moora; the Spanish-inspired Benedictine hamlet of New Norcia; Northam, picturesquely set on the Avon River; delightful little Toodyay with its handsome heritage buildings; and lovely York, the most atmospheric of all the Avon Valley towns.

Rolling hills blanketed in wildflowers, eucalyptus-scented bushland, and pastoral towns with wide streets lined with handsome heritage buildings distinguish this road trip through a handful of the most historic country towns near Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

This road trip from Perth up to New Norcia then through the Avon Valley towns could be done in one long day if you must, but would be much more enjoyable if you did it at a more leisurely pace over two or three days, staying overnight or even a couple of nights in towns en route.

Punctuating this road trip are myriad photo opportunities of fields carpeted with vibrant wildflowers, big homesteads with wide verandas, and rickety old wooden wagons in paddocks, and when you stop in these historic country towns near Perth there are fascinating museums to discover, old-fashioned stores cluttered with arts and crafts, antiques and bric-a-brac to browse, and charming cafés serving Devonshire teas to linger in.

There are also special experiences to be had in these historic country towns near Perth. You can meet a monk on a walking tour at the Benedictine monastery settlement of New Norcia, delight in the breathtaking array of vibrant native wildflowers that carpet the roadsides and hills during the cooler months, and drink craft beers on the wide wrought-iron balconies of big old corner pubs.

Historic Country Towns Near Perth to Explore On a Road Trip This Weekend


Moora will be the first of our historic country towns near Perth for you to explore on a road trip this weekend. An old pastoral town, Moora is located 177 kilometres north of Perth in the Wheatbelt region and it’s a popular detour for travellers on the way to the Benedictine Monastery settlement of New Norcia and the Avon Valley. The drive to Moora is scenic, passing through sheep and cattle properties and endless fields of wheat, barley and canola. The main attractions of Moora, established in 1895, are its grand architecture and nostalgic murals in the town centre, and – in season – the colourful wildflowers found in and around the town. In winter and spring, you’ll get to see yellow Wattle, blue Dampiera, and Lilac Hibiscus, and in summer, orange Eremaeas, yellow Kangaroo Paws, scarlet Feather Flowers, and the cream bottlebrushes of the Saltmarsh Honey Myrtle, among scores of other unique species. Moora Visitors Centre (65 Padbury Street) has maps detailing wildflower drives and walking trails.

New Norcia

New Norcia is next on your itinerary of our historic country towns near Perth for you to explore on a road trip this weekend. More of a hamlet than a town, New Norcia was founded in 1846 by a community of Benedictine monks intent on converting the local Aboriginal population to Christianity. With its Spanish-inspired buildings, New Norcia is something of an anomaly in a region of imposing banks and grand old corner pubs with wrought iron balconies. “A piece of old Spain in the heart of the Australian bush” is how I described it in a guidebook we wrote many years ago, which I see they’ve quoted me from on their website. The main building is home to the visitor centre, museum, gallery, and shop. Downstairs, you’ll find the information desk, a shop selling New Norcia’s famous wood-fired bread, wine, olive oil, and other gourmet products, while upstairs is the collection of religious art and objects. Book yourself on one of the guided two-hour walking tours around the sprawling grounds, which takes in St Gertrude’s Residence for Girls, St Ildephonsus’ for Boys (open for tours only), the Abbey Church, pictured, and the Flour Mills, or pick up a brochure and do the 2-km self-guided circuit that takes you past the impressive buildings but unfortunately doesn’t allow you inside.


Delightful little Toodyay is next on our list of historic country towns near Perth that we recommend you stop off at on a road trip this weekend. Founded in 1836, Toodyay was one of the earliest inland settlements of the Swan River Colony and a handful of buildings from that period remain, including the National Trust-classified Connor’s Mill and Museum (Corner Stirling Terrace and Piesse Street) and the Old Newcastle Gaol (Clinton Street). Also worth visiting is St Stephen’s Church, opposite the mill on the riverbank and the old Mechanics’ Institute, Stirling Terrace, now the public library. The town bustles on weekends when visitors flock here to browse the art and crafts shops, antique and bric-a-brac stores, and lunch in the old pubs.


Northam is next on your itinerary of historic country towns near Perth to call into on a road trip. The problem with Northam is that you just might want to spend the night here. Established in 1833 by Governor Stirling who named the settlement after a Devon village, Northam was an important departure point for explorers and miners venturing east to make their names and fortunes. In the 1930s its indigenous residents were tragically rounded up and resettled, while in the 1940s and 1950s Northam was the site of camps for displaced Europeans immigrants. It’s now a major commercial centre for Wheatbelt farmers with a handful of historic old buildings worth seeing that are scattered around town, including the lovingly-restored 1836 Morby Cottage (Katrine Rd) and the 1886 Old Railway Station Museum (Fitzgerald St). Picturesquely set on the Avon River, Northam is famous for its white swans, its suspension bridge (the longest of its kind in Australia), and its mural-covered silos, which marks the start of the Public Silo Art trail, which includes silo art stops in Merredin, Kattaning, Pingrup, Newdegate, Ravensthorpe, and Albany.


York is your last stop on our road trip through the best historic country towns near Perth to explore. Western Australia’s first inland settlement, York also happens to be the best-preserved country town in the region. Founded as a convict outpost in 1826, it’s the most atmospheric of the Avon Valley towns, oozing history and charm. Boasting countless beautifully-restored 19th-century National Trust-listed buildings with historic shop-fronts, retro signage, and corrugated-iron awnings, York’s main street is worth a wander. Strolling Avon Terrace is like stepping back in time. The most notable buildings are the Town Hall, Settlers House, Residency Museum, and the many old pubs. While it’s a delight simply to amble the main drag and browse the old bookstores, antique and craft shops, and old-fashioned lolly stores, there are several attractions worth visiting, including York Motor Museum, with its impressive collection of vintage cars, the Old Courthouse, and Sandalwood Yards. One block from Avon Terrace is the tranquil Avon River, spanned by a small suspension bridge.

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