Top Trail: Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail, Mundaring Weir to Kalgoorlie
The Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail takes you to WA’s Eastern Goldfields, rich in gold, history and scenery, revealing the story of a unique engineering feat. Travel on the old Goldfields Road along which fortune seekers rushed in the 1890s.
About the Trail
Stop to explore where they stopped to rest and fill their waterbags. Prospectors learned that water is more precious than gold - some died of thirst - and a scheme was devised to deliver water further and higher than ever before to supply the goldfields. The well-signposted Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail follows this life-giving water east from its source in the forested Perth Hills, through the golden expanses of the Wheatbelt to the gold boomtown of Kalgoorlie.
The Trail is a great way to learn about Western Australia, past and present and CY O'Connor, the engineer who designed the water scheme. The Golden Pipeline is so named because of the Golden Fleece (6 million sheep rely on it), the Golden Sheaves of the Wheatbelt and Gold from Australia’s richest goldfields. The trail includes dams and wells built before the pipeline, natural attractions such as nature reserves, gold mining towns and abandoned town sites.
Apart from Goldfields Road, you travel on old Eastern Railway reserve, along which trains steamed, and the maintenance road alongside the water supply pipeline. Only two small sections are unsuitable for caravans. A range of accommodation is available at towns en route.
The trail is ideal for motorists who have a couple of days or more to explore the history, hospitality and horizons of Golden Pipeline Country. There's plenty to get you out of your car: 100-year old pumping stations, remote sites where workers lived to keep the water flowing, walk trails around massive granite outcrops.
Water spends at least a week in the pipeline from source to destination and we recommend you too take your time to get the most from the trail. There are plenty of opportunties to stop, get out of the car and explore. The 25 interpreted sites along the trail have illustrated informative signs to help you discover more and a comprehensive guide book will enhance your drive trail experience.
The "Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail Guide" packed with easy to read maps, photographs and information is available from good book stores in Perth and major WA towns, visitor centres and newsagents in Golden Pipeline Country and The National Trust’s website.
Access the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail at Mundaring Weir if travelling west to east; or at Mount Charlotte on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie if travelling east to west. The Trail is well marked with large brown tourist roadside signs. These indicate direction at major intersections and reassurance shield signs appear regularly along the route. All carry the distinctive Golden Pipeline logo.
Need to Know
Avon Valley National Park
Where jarrah and marri forests meet wandoo woodlands, the Avon Valley National Park offers dramatic seasonal contrasts, with challenging white water rapids creating one of Australia's most thrilling races in winter and tranquil pools echoing the songs of native birds in summer. You can escape to the adventure and serenity of Avon Valley National Park in just over an hour, driving north from Perth city on the Great Northern Highway. By far the grandest ways to travel are by rail or balloon. You can take in some of the Avon Valley's splendour from the carriage of a restaurant train from East Perth, or from a hot-air balloon from nearby Northam. Time your visit to coincide with the Avon Descent and you'll get to witness the spectacle of Western Australia's unique sporting event which challenges local novices and world champions to tackle a gruelling two day time trial, starting in the Avon Valley and finishing in Perth. During winter and spring you can take to the water too, rushing along the white waters on a rafting or canoeing tour. Or, opt to stay on the river bank, taking your pick from a range of easy to challenging bushwalking trails and finding a quiet spot to watch for some of the 90 species of bird that have been seen in the park. Venture to the west, and you'll find a string of charming country towns that have lovingly restored their colonial heritage. From Toodyay's 1870s flour mill and old Gaol Museum to the Northam Heritage Trail and the oldest inland town in Western Australia - York. A popular family day trip, romantic weekender or extended break from city life, the Avon Valley offers some of its grand old buildings as charming bed and breakfasts and elegant country retreats, as well as a host of camping grounds giving you the opportunity to spend a night under a star-filled sky.
Between wheat and sheep farming country, the diverse landscapes of Bencubbin are in bloom for almost half the year after winter rains, creating a haven for prolific birdlife and a must-stop for nature lovers. The region's pastoral and sandalwood cutting heritage and curious meteorite craters also make an intriguing detour. Bencubbin lies three hours and 20 minutes by road from Perth. If you're following the Golden Pipeline to the Goldfields, the detour is just over an hour's drive north from Merredin or Kellerberrin. For an eagle's eye 360 degree view of the landscapes that define the north east Wheatbelt, head for the summit of Marshall Rock. If you're keen to catch the wildflowers, the best displays can be enjoyed in July and August, but you'll find blooms from June to October after good winter rains. For bird watchers, the attractions are year round, with many native species frequenting lake habitats and reserves. In the town, the architectural legacy of the early sandalwood cutters and sheep farmers offers a window to a bygone era as you stroll past the hotel, sandalwood shops, old Police station and school. At Pioneer Wells, you'll also glimpse the harsh realities of early life before water pipelines were established to quench thirsty farmers and livestock. A drive to Pergandes Sheep Yard and Homestead, constructed almost entirely from granite taken from nearby outcrops, reveals more evidence of their resourcefulness. Nearby, North Maniga is famed for landmarks of a very different nature - three meteorites that are thought to have fragmented on impact with Earth. The first, weighing 542 kilograms, was discovered in 1930. 'Number two' was found in 1959 and weighs 64.6 kilograms, and the third, just 16 kilograms, remained unnoticed until 1974. All three meteorites are on display at the Museum of Western Australia, but you can view a sample of 'number two' at the Shire Museum in Bencubbin (by appointment). To make Bencubbin your base in the north east Wheatbelt, check into the hotel/motel or pull into the caravan park.
Bruce Rock is as rich in pioneer history as it is natural wonders, offering glimpses of early settler life, and panoramic vistas over outback Wheatbelt country. Located three and a half hours east of Perth by car, this farming town is at the centre of Western Australia's crop-growing heartland. For a unique insight into the harsh realities of life for 19th century pioneers, visit Bruce Rock Museum. View historical displays in the restored bank and explore reconstructions of an original one-room school, mud-brick settler's hut and a blacksmiths to gain a real sense of what life was like for the early settlers. From Bruce's Rock or Kokerbin Rock, you can take in the timeless landscape of the Wheatbelt. The local landmark of Bruce's Rock, two kilometres outside the town, was named after John Rufus Bruce, a sandalwooder who used the outcrop as his depot in 1869. Take a walk over the rock and enjoy a picnic or barbeque at its base. Venture 45 kilometres west and you'll find Kokerbin Rock in unspoilt Kokerbin Nature Reserve. You can't miss this immense 122 metre high granite outcrop - it's the third largest monolith in Australia. Drive to the top for sweeping views over the countryside, or park at the base and walk to the peak, taking in the native flora and fauna and Devil's Marbles. There are also picnic and barbecue facilities there. Back in town, you'll find a motel, hotel, caravan park and bed and breakfast accommodation, along with an arts and crafts centre and sculpture park displaying a variety of work by local artists.
Chidlow, in the heart of the Darling Range, is a charming country town, surrounded by beautiful countryside criss-crossed with trails through native flora and fauna rich woodlands. It's the ideal base for bushwalking, cycling and horse riding, as well as swimming and canoeing at nearby Lake Leschenaultia. Just 50 minutes east from Perth by car, Chidlow was originally a busy railway town on the old Eastern Railway, built in the 1880s but decommissioned in 1966. Today, Chidlow is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers alike. All that remains of the railway is the Heritage Trail that retraces the 70 kilometre Fremantle to York railway line, and Lake Leschenaultia, which was originally constructed to provide water for the steam trains. On the Railway Heritage Trail, you'll discover the unique history and character of the small settlements that sprang up along the railway line. It's suitable for walking, cycling and horse riding, and is a great way to experience the native forests and bushland. Keep an eye out for the abundant birdlife, kangaroos, echidnas and, if you're visiting in spring, stop to admire the colourful wildflowers that blanket the countryside. If you're looking for somewhere to cool off after exploring the trail, Lake Leschenaultia's inviting waters and sandy beaches await. Take a refreshing dip, hire a canoe and paddle your way around the lake, or take a leisurely water-side stroll around the three kilometre trail circuit. Alternatively, relax on one of the lake's beaches with a picnic or barbecue lunch beneath the shade of the gum trees. For a night under the stars, camp out at Lake Leschenaultia, or opt for some comfort and hospitality at a local bed and breakfast or self-contained cottage.
Coolgardie hit the world map in 1892 as the birthplace of the gold rush that fuelled the largest mass migration of people in Australia's history. Proudly retaining its pioneering heritage charms, it's one of the nation's best preserved gold mining towns and also marks the start of an epic historical adventure, the Golden Quest Discovery Trail. Hitting the Great Eastern Highway from Perth, it takes six to seven hours to reach Coolgardie. Or if you're heading from Kalgoorlie, it's just a leisurely 40 minute drive away. Here, 965 kilometres of gold rush history stretch to the north along the Golden Quest Discovery Trail, which takes you through 25 historically significant sites and eerie ghost towns to Laverton in the far north. Take a stroll down Coolgardie's wide main street and see grand glimpses of its glory days as the third largest town in Western Australia. It may surprise you to learn the town was once home to over 16,000 residents, with two stock exchanges, three breweries, seven newspapers and 26 hotels. Many of these heritage buildings remain today, including the Mining Warden's Court that houses the Goldfields and Coolgardie Museum - a great introduction to the Goldfield's colourful early social history. The Old Courtroom presents Australia's largest bottle collection and, nearby, the Pharmacy Museum invites you to peruse one of Australia's most extensive collections of 18th and 19th century medicines, pharmaceutical advertisements and antique tools of the chemist trade. Beyond the town, the fresh water wetlands of Rowles Lagoon invite you to spend a day nearer to nature, offering great swimming, boating, canoeing, bush walking, bird watching, picnic spots and the opportunity to camp under a star-filled outback night sky. If rock climbing is your thing, head out to Cave Hill Nature Reserve. Or, if you're an experienced four wheel driver, you can get your kicks on the Holland Track that stretches some 600 kilometres across remote farming, pastoral, mining and native bush landscapes to Broomehill. To rest your head before heading out on your Goldfields adventure, choose from Coolgardie's hotels and motels, bed and breakfasts and caravan park accommodation.
Cunderdin's rich gold rush heritage makes it a fascinating destination for history buffs following the Golden Pipeline Trail. Step inside the town's original pumping station and be transported back to the 1800s by the Municipal Museum. Or gaze in awe at the faultline caused by the earthquake that devastated the area in 1968. A two hour drive east from Perth on the Great Eastern Highway will bring you to this charming Wheatbelt town, which was first settled when the railway arrived in 1894. In 1901, the Goldfields Water Scheme also reached the town. That's why, today, Cunderdin is one of the first stops on the Mundaring-to-Kalgoorlie Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail - a captivating self-drive tour that traces the path and history of engineer C. Y. O'Connor's 560 kilometre freshwater pipeline to the arid Goldfields. On the trail you can visit a 100 year old steam pumping station, walk across the dam wall and learn about the people behind the scheme at numerous museums along the way. Continue your journey through Cunderdin's history at the Cunderdin Municipal Museum, housed in the imposing pump station, where vintage machinery, antiques and relics bring the town's story to life. Learn about early settlement, agriculture and the gold rush. Admire the Tiger Moth aeroplane suspended from the ceiling, or explore the interactive Earthquake House for an insight into the huge 1968 earthquake. The quake left a scar 32 kilometres long and two metres high across the landscape - you can still view a one kilometre section of the faultline on the Quellington (York) Road. While you're exploring, take in some of the region's other natural highlights, including views from Cunderdin Hill Lookout and a picnic or spring wildflower walk at Bulgin Rock Reserve. Be sure to stop by the unusual Ettamogah Pub, based on the Ken Maynard comics and complete with rooftop truck, it's a quirky spot to enjoy a meal and a cool beer. If you'd like to extend your stay, the pub also offers motel-style accommodation. Alternatively, pull into the local caravan park, or enjoy a slice of country living at a farmstay.
Dowerin has long been a popular stop for visitors to the Wheatbelt. Head to Tin Dog Creek for a cooling dip, as the Goldfields prospectors once did. Delve into pioneering history, marvel at modern agriculture at the Machinery Field Days, meet Rusty the dog who stands guard over the town, or explore myriad natural attractions against a backdrop of colourful spring wildflowers. The two hour and 10 minute drive east of Perth along the Pioneers Pathway will bring you to Dowerin. This scenic self-drive tour winds through Wheatbelt farmland and towns, passing wide open vistas and nature walks, lakes and granite outcrops, pioneering heritage buildings and museums. While you're retracing the footsteps of pioneers, stop at nearby Tin Dog Creek. A vital watering hole for prospectors in the past, today it offers a great spot for a picnic, a refreshing dip or a stroll through pristine bushland to discover a wide variety of native flora and fauna. Visit between July and October and you'll be dazzled by the blooms of colourful wildflowers - Namelcatchem Reserve and Minnivale Reserve are also top spots to view this seasonal phenomenon. Head back to the town and step back to the late 1800s with a walk through Dowerin's pioneering heritage along the Heritage Walk Trail, making time to visit the furnished 1915 cottage and artefacts at Dowerin District Museum, which paints a vivid picture of settler life. For a 21st century view of Dowerin, catch the Machinery Field Days at the end of August - a popular event showcasing the very latest in agricultural machinery, technology and rural services. To make Dowerin your base, choose from the town's hotel, motel and caravan accommodation.
Surrounded by the unspoilt forests and native bush of Perth's Darling Range, Gidgegannup is renowned for its scenic walking trails, wildlife drive, tumbling waterfalls, dazzling spring wildflowers, bird watching and country charm. It's just a 20 minute drive east of Midland and the Swan Valley, or 30 minutes from Perth city, making this semi-rural township a convenient mini-escape for lovers of wildlife. Just minutes from the town's main street you'll find the bushwalking and wildflower hotspots of Noble Falls and F. R. Berry Reserve. Every year, between August and November, these parks put on some of Perth's best wildflower displays of yellow wattles, rich blue leschenaultia and rare varieties that occur nowhere else on Earth. A good network of short and long walking trails lead you through the flora-rich marri, jarrah, powder bark and wandoo woodlands, or you can join a knowledgeable local guide for a scenic wildflower tour. Beyond the natural bushland, horses, cattle, emus and alpacas graze the picturesque rolling farmland, and orchards produce some of WA's finest goats cheese, olives to nuts. Head for the main street in Gidgegannup to taste some of these flavours, browse the art galleries and see a piece of convict history at the road camp ruins. Make it a weekend away with an overnight stay at any one of the town's charming bed and breakfasts. If you're planning a visit in October, hit the Gidgegannup Agricultural Show, locally known as 'The Gidge Show', and see the region's producers and artists displaying their prize-winners.
The Avon Valley town of Goomalling is your gateway to one of the largest and most dazzling displays of wildflowers in Western Australia and, in fact, the world. In spring, you'll see some of the State's 12,000 plus blooming varieties blanket the countryside as far as the eye can see. Nestled in the north-eastern corner of the Avon Valley, you can get to Goomalling direct from Perth in just under two hours, via the charming country town of Northam. Or, if you're in no hurry, hit the self-drive loop trail taking in the rolling pastures and heritage towns of York and Toodyay too. About 15 kilometres to the north of Goomalling sits Oak Park, one of the last remnants of original native bushland in the Wheatbelt. Here, you can lay out your picnic on a vast blanket of spring wildflowers, explore 149 hectares of native woodlands and wetlands, or discover the ancient traditions of the local Indigenous Balardong people and their gnamma (water holes). For insights into the region's more recent history, head for the Slater Homestead to view the residence of Goomalling's first European settler family (circa 1860), or the Railway Station and Museum which dates back to the early 1900s (open to the public by appointment). Goomalling's traditional taverns offer some country hospitality in the form of drinks, wholesome meals and accommodation. For a more family and budget-friendly overnight option, try the caravan park.
In the heart of the Wheatbelt, Kellerberrin inspires wildflower enthusiasts with flora-filled woodlands and heaths, photographers with curious rock formations, history buffs with agricultural heritage and visiting international artists with a taste of true Australian rural life. A two and a half hour drive east of Perth along the Great Eastern Highway brings you to Kellerberin. It's one of the first must-stops along the 650 kilometre Golden Pipeline HeritageTrail, following the path and story of this feat of engineering, which has supplied water to the Goldfields for over a century. If you're travelling between August and November, be sure to take the Trayning/Bencubbin Road to Durokoppin Reserve where woodlands and heath put on displays of wildflowers, from wattle to grevillea. To get a good view of the surrounding countryside, you have plenty of vantage points to choose from. Head for nearby Kellerberrin Hill and the Golden Pipeline Lookout. Take a picnic to the dramatic granite outcrops of Mount Stirling and Mount Caroline. Or scale Western Australia's third largest monocline - Kokerbin Rock, where the road leads you to the summit and an array of rock formations, including mini Wave Rock, Dog Rock and Devils Marbles. The best way to take in the treasures of the town is to follow the Kellerberrin Heritage Trail passing fine examples of 19th and early 20th century architecture, including the post office, St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Massingham House and the fire station. Entering Pioneer Park, a collection of old farming implements and machinery create an interesting backdrop for the Folk Museum, where you can view local memorabilia in the town's original agricultural hall. Heading back to the main street, be sure to call in at the International Art Space Kellerberrin Australia (IASKA). This unique contemporary art gallery invites international artists to immerse themselves in Australian rural life and create original artworks based on their experiences. Much of the work created and displayed here proceeds to grace the walls of larger venues throughout Australia and overseas. To stay and find your own inspiration in Kellerberrin, choose from the motel, motor hotel, hostel or caravan park.
The Wheatbelt town of Koorda has a rich pioneering and agricultural heritage and a country charm that endures to this day. Discover country living and traditional crafts at the Agricultural Show, or marvel at the diversity of wildlife and wildflowers against a backdrop of sweeping outback countryside. Situated on the Wheatbelt Way scenic drive, just over three hours from Perth by car, this quaint farming community is famous for its annual Agricultural Show in September, showcasing agricultural events, displays and crafts, such as the corn dollies that are synonymous with Koorda. Year round, you'll find an equally eclectic array of natural attractions and reserves nearby, including the picturesque granite outcrops of Mollerin Rock, Newcarlbeon, Badgerin Rock and Moningarin. Most have picnic or barbecue facilities, so pack a lunch and explore the pristine Wheatbelt bushland, rich in native birdlife and fauna, including kangaroos, echidnas and emus. Between July and October, the landscape is a blaze of colour when myriad spring wildflowers bloom after replenishing winter rains. Picnic on a blanket of everlastings and marvel at the small red Koorda Rose found in abundance throughout the area. A spectacle of a more agricultural nature awaits at Koorda's cereal grain transport complex. Take a tour for a unique insight into the logistics and processes involved in handling the vast quantities of grain produced in the Wheatbelt. You can also immerse yourself in the past with a visit to Koorda's museum, which houses a fine collection of early farming machinery, pioneer homestead effects and interpretive displays providing a window into the town's history and the building's previous life as a pre-World War II hospital. If Koorda charms you into a longer stay, there's hotel accommodation, self-contained units and a caravan park to choose from.
Meckering is a historic farming town with a fascinating story to tell. Learn about Western Australia's greatest engineering feat following the Golden Pipeline Trail and marvel at the aftermath of the famous earthquake that razed the town in 1968. Meckering is one hour and 45 minutes east of Perth on the Great Eastern Highway - a convenient rest-stop on the Perth-Kalgoorlie route and one of the first stops on the fascinating Golden Pipeline Trail. Tracing the path and story of the Golden Pipeline, engineered by C. Y. O'Connor in the 1890s gold rush to transport fresh drinking water 560 kilometres from Mundaring Weir to the arid Goldfields, the self-drive heritage trail is a fascinating journey of discovery. Along the way, you can step inside a 100 year old steam pumping station, walk across a dam wall and learn about the lives of the people behind the pipeline at the many museums on this enlightening road trip. Meckering itself has been an agricultural farming town since settlement in 1887, but this quiet rural township was changed forever on 14 October 1968 when it was completely destroyed by an earthquake. Much of the wreckage has been preserved and is exhibited around the town. The quake, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and injured 20 people, resulted in a 32 kilometre faultline which scarred the countryside. View a one kilometre section of the fault that has been preserved 12 kilometres south of town, or the section two kilometres north of town where you can also see a devastated farm homestead. For a different perspective on history, walk through the lens at the Museum of Photography. Taking the form of a giant 35 millimetre camera, the museum is home to some 1,000 artefacts and cameras, some predating the invention of photography - projectors, enlargers, processing equipment, magic lantern projectors and slides, movie cameras, epidiascopes, zoetropes, phantascopes, kaleidoscopes and three dimensional photography. If you'd like to break your road trip with an overnight stay in Meckering, book a night at the local bed and breakfast farmstay or caravan park.
Make Merredin a must-stop on your wildflower and heritage tour, following the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail or the Pioneer's Pathway from Wheatbelt to Goldfields. Here, huge granite outcrops create a striking backdrop to beautfiful wildflower blooms, and glimpses of the past can be found in pioneer heritage and WWII military sites. Three hours on the Great Eastern Highway will bring you to Merredin, the largest regional centre in the eastern Wheatbelt. You can also jump aboard the TransWA Prospector, Avon Link or Goldrush Coach Lines and join a town or wildflower tour on arrival. If you're on the trail to discover some of Western Australia's 12,000 plus flowering species that make up the largest collection on Earth, make a beeline for the delicate orchids of Tamma Parkland or the vast granite outcrops of Merredin Peak and Totadgin Conservation Park. The Merredin Peak Heritage Trail will also lead you through native bushland to the remains of a former army field hospital - one of many historic military installations dotted throughout the region as reminders of Merredin's role as the second line of defence. A good place to start your lesson in local WWI and WWII history is to head for the Military Museum. In the town, Cummins Theatre oozes yesteryear charm from every classic 1920s' feature. Built from bricks salvaged from Coolgardie hotels and the original pressed metal ceiling from Coolgardie's Tivoli Theatre, it also houses one of the best collections of Australian theatre archives in the state. Today, this thriving business centre also boasts the longest grain storage facilities in the southern hemisphere, as well as a good selection of eating houses and accommodation options - making it the ideal base for exploring the eastern Wheatbelt.
Mundaring invites you into the heart of the hills to wander through some of Western Australia's oldest conservation areas, marvel at one of the world's great engineering feats, Mundaring Wier, or hit the epic Munda Biddi Bike Trail. An easy daytrip from Perth, just follow the Great Eastern Highway and you'll arrive in Mundaring within 40 minutes. From here, it's a leisurely drive through the forests to reach Mundaring Weir, engineered by C Y O'Connor in the 1890s to feed freshwater to the goldfields 560 kilometres to the east. To continue your historical journey, head for the original steam pumping station or follow the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail into the outback. Other adventures await at the start of the Munda Biddi BikeTrail, one of few places on Earth where you can cycle hundreds of kilometres off road through stunning biodiversity hotspots. There's also the Railway Heritage Trail that retraces the 70 kilometre Fremantle to York railway line, passing through Western Australia's first conservation area, John Forrest National Park, and revealing the unique history and character of the small settlements that sprang up along the railway line. The trail is suitable for walking, cycling and horse riding - a great way to experience the forests and bushland where native wildlife and spring wildflowers abound. An early morning walk in the cooler months can be a magical experience as the mist rises in the treetops. These are the sights that feed the souls of local artists who exhibit their works in the local galleries and Mundaring Community Sculpture Park. Lovers of landscaping can also wander through the creations of Mundaring's most gifted gardeners in spring and autumn, and on star-filled summer evenings the bush plays host to an array of cultural and music events, including the outdoor cinema. Spend the day sampling the Hill's fine wining and dining options, or stay and enjoy more of Mundaring's hospitality at a farmstay, cottage, hotel or bed and breakfast. Plan your visit to coincide with the Mundaring Truffle Festival for a feast of world-class truffle, food and wine experiences, including entertaining truffle dog demonstrations.
New Norcia is Australia's only monastic town, a historical and spiritual treasure in the West Australian bush. You won't believe what lies behind the locked doors of our buildings! Join a town tour and let their experienced guides unravel the unique history and show you the hidden artworks of New Norcia. Lose yourself in the Museum and Art Gallery where an eclectic array of Mission and Monastery memorabilia is displayed alongside European religious art and contemporary Australian art works, the gallery also houses a beautiful Charles Austin Gardiner exhibition of botanical drawings. Meet a monk! On Saturdays at 4.30pm you are invited to the monastery parlour for a taste of monastic hospitality and to listen to their stories of yesteryear. Experience a 1500 year-old tradition and join the monks for prayer in the Monastery oratory. Stroll up the hill and can soak up the old-world charm of the New Norcia Hotel, linger over a home cooked meal and stay overnight to be serenaded by the cocky chorus at sundown. Taste some of the delicious New Norcia produce; freshly baked New Norcia bread, silver medal winning olive oil, grown in the 100 year old Monastery olive grove and delicious wines and ports from the Abbey wines label. Book into the monastery guesthouse, the programme of Benedictine Experience weekends offers everyone time apart to renew and restore a sense of balance. Visit the Mission cottage interpretation centre and learn more about the Aboriginal families that lived and worked at New Norcia. The Old Convent and Colleges are also available for hire for groups of 15 to 200 people, providing a unique and memorable experience for school camps, art and music workshops, retreats, conferences and special events.
Northam lies at the heart of Perth's picturesque Avon Valley offering blissful relaxation with a touch of adrenalin for good measure. It's the perfect spot for a riverside picnic, whether you're admiring Western Australia's only colony of white swans or catching Western Australia's own unique sporting event - the Avon Descent. Following the Great Eastern Highway from Perth, you can reach Northam in under an hour and a half, making it the ideal Avon Valley day trip or weekender. If you're visiting in August, check out the start date for the Avon Descent annual sporting event. Grab yourself a spot on the river bank and watch world champions and novices from around Australia and overseas take to the water by power and paddle craft in this thrilling two-day time trial. The grassy, tree-lined river banks are a more tranquil scene at other times of the year, with an abundance of birdlife, including Northam's famous white swans. But there are still thrills to be found on Northam's pedestrian suspension bridge - the longest of its kind in Australia - or with a hot-air balloon flight over the Avon Valley's rolling pastures. The town also invites you to step into its past by visiting the permanent exhibition of post-war migrant history at the visitor centre or following the Northam Heritage Trail on foot or by car to explore its pioneering era. Among the highlights is Morby Cottage, the home of one of Northam's first families, standing as a tribute to the tenacity of the early settlers since it was built in 1836. For a taste of rural country life today, book into a farm stay nearby, or sample some country town charm with a stay at Northam's hotels, motels and bed and breakfast accommodation. Be sure to browse the art and craft galleries before you leave and take a piece of the Avon Valley home with you.
Whether you're on the trail of pioneers or wildflowers, Nungarin packs some surprises. It's home to Western Australia's only remaining World War Two Five Base Ordnance Depot, the first stone and mud brick homestead, and vibrant blooms that form part of the largest collection of wildflowers on Earth. A three and a half hour drive east of Perth and just half an hour north of Merredin, the historic town of Nungarin makes a fascinating detour from the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail between Perth and Kalgoorlie. From 1944 to 1960, Nungarin served as a depot for Australian army personnel. Today, it invites you to discover the region's military history by stepping inside the State's only remaining World War Two Five Base Ordnance Depot at the Nungarin Heritage Machinery and Army Museum. Here, beside Tenth Light Horse military armoured vehicles, you'll find an eclectic display of military and agricultural, dolls and matchbox toys. Venture out to Mangowine Homestead and be transported back to the 1870s. Discover the story of pioneers Charles and Jane Adams, explore its 10 hectare natural bushland setting and see the first stone and mud brick homestead in its original condition, when it served as an inn for travellers heading to the Goldfields. Hit the Nungarin Heritage Trail to tour other historic buildings in the region, including McCorry's Old Hotel, the Post Office, Nungarin Hotel and the Anglican Church. If you're travelling in August or September, be sure to take the detour to Talgomine Reserve or Eaglestone Hill, when the fields are a blanket of pink and yellow everlastings and the woodlands are filled with the delicate blooms of orchids. Bird watchers, canoeists or those in search of a cooling dip will also find delight in a trip to nearby Lake Campion. Stay and soak up a little local heritage at the hotel and adjoining blacksmiths (circa 1911), enjoy some local hospitality at a guesthouse, or pull in to the local caravan park. Time your visit to coincide with the first Sunday of each month between March and December and you can also indulge at the Nungarin Wheatbelt Markets.
Southern Cross was named after the stars that guided early prospectors to their gold find. It's surrounded by some of the largest farms in the State and stands at the western gateway to the world's largest and healthiest temperate woodland - the Great Western Woodlands. Make a stop to admire some of the best spring wildflower shows on Earth, or immerse yourself in colourful gold rush history. A convenient halfway house on the Great Eastern Highway and Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail that runs between Kalgoorlie and Perth, Southern Cross is a four hour drive east of Perth and a two and a half hour drive west of Kalgoorlie. It sits at the centre of Yilgarn Shire, Yilgarn meaning white stone or quartz in the local Indigenous language. The area is spectacularly beautiful in spring, with wildflowers carpeting the surrounding outback plains and Great Western Woodland - a 160,000 square kilometre temperate woodland that has great significance to the world's ecology, on a par with Africa's Serengeti and South America's Amazon. Take a scenic woodland drive, pick from the locals' favourite picnic spots at Baladje Rock, Frog Rock, Karalee Dam or Hunts Soak, or head up to Wimmera Hill Lookout for a panoramic view of the town and surrounding farmland, salt lakes and gold mines. Gold was discovered in Southern Cross in 1888 by Tom Risely and Mick Toomey, marking the start of the eastern Goldfields gold rush. The first permanent courthouse in the eastern Goldfields and Western Australia's first registry was built here in 1892, which now house the Yilgarn History Museum's impressive collection of relics and artefacts, including a working model of a gold battery, a camel wagon, the local burial register and domestic memorabilia. Stay a while to soak up more of its rich heritage with a night or two at the town's country pub, originally built in 1892. There are more rooms and self-contained options available at the local motels, as well as a caravan park.
The quaint rural township of Tammin is a convenient rest-stop and base from which to explore the countryside, experience the wonder of outback wildflower season, explore pioneering history and learn about 21st century Wheatbelt farming. Located two hours and 15 minutes east of Perth by road, Tammin is on the self-drive Golden Pipeline Trail, which follows the path and story of the Golden Pipeline - engineered by C. Y. O'Connor in the 1890s to transport fresh drinking water 560 kilometres from Mundaring Weir to the arid Goldfields. Hit the trail and take yourself on a journey of discovery, visiting a 100 year old steam pumping station, walking across a dam wall and learning about the lives of the people behind the pipeline at the many museums along the way. There are a number of self-drive detours nearby taking in the area's natural attractions, reserves, flora, fauna and interpretive walking trails. Visit in spring and you'll be greeted by a riot of colour as a myriad of wildflowers blanket the countryside. At Charles Gardiner Reserve, 14 kilometres south of Tammin, 600 hectares of native flora await, home to a wide variety of vibrant wildflowers between June and November - many of which are unique to the area. Yorkrakine Rock is another important haven for native plants and animals. This unusual granite outcrop, 26 kilometres north of Tammin, is 341 metres high, offering excellent climbing and panoramic vistas. For more pioneering history off the Golden Pipeline Trail, visit restored Hunts Well just south of the town - named after explorer Charles Hunt, who built wells and dams along his early exploration route, opening up the Goldfields for stockmen, prospectors and other explorers. Today, this historic watering point is a popular picnic spot with locals and visitors alike. For a fascinating insight into contemporary Wheatbelt water use and science, visit Kadjininy Kep. In addition to an interactive hydrology model, you'll find barbecue facilities here, making it an ideal place to take a break from the road. Alternatively, meals are available at Tammin's hotel, along with accommodation, if you'd like to extend your stay.
Boasting some of Western Australia's finest examples of 19th century heritage, Toodyay and the Avon Valley will take you on a journey back in time, through some of Perth's most picturesque countryside. It's just a 90 minute drive or train ride east of Perth to reach Toodyay, making it a perfect day or weekend escape to immerse yourself in natural beauty and cultural heritage. The town's architecture is reminiscent of its early convict era, with attractions such as the Old Newcastle Gaol Museum and Connors Mill - Australia's finest example of a 1870s steam-driven flour mill - each showcasing a colourful past. A scenic drive through the Chittering and Avon valleys is a must at any time of year, but if your visit coincides with the first weekend in August, you'll get to witness one of Western Australia's most unique sporting events - the Avon Descent. Thrill seekers from across the nation and the world make their way to the Avon Valley to compete in this gruelling two day time trial. Continue your journey by visiting the nearby towns of Northam and York, while taking in the breathtaking valley scenery. Tour the region's wineries. Try your hand at archery, canoeing and fishing. Enjoy a lazy riverside picnic or barbeque in Duidgee Park. Or take a stroll through beautiful country gardens, lavender fields, olive groves and the carpets of wildflowers that light up the Avon Valley National Park in spring. Art lovers seeking an original piece should head for Toodyay's sculpture, pottery and art studios, which offer individually crafted works. Or, if your appetite craves a quick snack or hearty meal, make a beeline for the historic hotels, tearooms and alfresco cafes along Stirling Terrace. For your overnight stay, charming bed and breakfasts and luxury accommodation make for a romantic getaway, while caravan parks and camping grounds offer the ideal opportunity to sleep under a canopy of stars.
Westonia, on the historic Golden Pipeline Trail, is where the Wheatbelt meets the Goldfields. It's a town rich in pioneering heritage and natural attractions, from the faithfully restored streetscape to the native bushland that surrounds the town. A three hour and 45 minute drive east of from Perth, or a three hour and 15 minute road trip west of Kalgoorlie will bring you to the charming outback town of Westonia - your halfway house on the Golden Pipeline Trail. This fascinating self-drive tour charts the route and history of engineer C. Y. O'Connor's 560 kilometre freshwater pipeline from Perth to the Goldfields. On the trail you can step inside a 100 year old steam pumping station, walk across a dam wall and learn about the people behind the scheme at numerous museums. Walking through Westonia is a leap back in time. Established during the gold rush era, the town has restored and rebuilt its fine buildings to create a streetscape straight out of the pioneering era. From the original bank, cafe and green grocer store to the bright red doors on Westonia's fire station, wander through town and imagine life here during the mining boom of the early 1900s. The township is nestled amid 4,000 hectares of salmon gum, morrell and gimlet woodland, dotted with granite outcrops, as well as remnants of the town's gold mining past. Hit the four kilometre Woodlands and Wildflowers Heritage Trail to explore the native bushland, taking in Westonia Common woodland and historic points of interest. Or drive a little way out of town to Boodalin Soak or Sandford Rocks - both are picturesque spots providing the opportunity to explore woodlands, granite outcrops, refreshing pools and diverse native flora. Time your visit to coincide with spring wildflower season (June to November) and you'll find the arid landscape transformed by a plethora of vibrant wildflowers after replenishing winter rains. When it's time for refreshments and a rest from exploring this unique outback town and landscape, you'll find everything you need in Westonia, including motel and caravan park accommodation.
A drive or walk through Wyalkatchem is well worth your while, whether you're on the trail to uncover rich gold rush and agricultural heritage, or to witness one of the finest collections of wildflowers on Earth. Originally a favourite stop for prospectors hitting the Goldfield's track, you can follow in their search for fortune along the Pioneers' Pathway from Perth. Driving the Great Eastern Highway and Goomalling-Wyalkatchem Road, you'll reach the town in two and a half hours. Nature lovers can opt to take the Granite Loop Discovery Trail, a more leisurely three to five day self-drive route taking in the Wheatbelt's striking granite formations and reserves teeming with flora and fauna. The town is thought to have been named after the Wyalkatchem water tank which was built by sandalwood cutters in 1881. Today, it's the original wheat bin that attracts many visitors. Known as the CBH Museum, it houses an impressive collection of early farming equipment and transportation, including the 'Waterloo Boy' - one of the first John Deere tractor models and one of the few remaining in Australia. At the northern end of town, you'll find the gateway to native bushlands via one of three walking trails. Or, to marvel at the local's own creations, head for the Water Wise Garden beside one of the many colourful murals that depict town life in the early 1900s. A little further afield, Korrelocking Reserve and Yorkakine Rock offer some picturesque picnic spots. These are particularly striking after good winter rains when the blooms of wildflowers and delicate orchids bring colour to the bushlands. The region is a favourite hangout for hang gliding enthusiasts too, who've been known to reach dizzying heights of up to 3,500 metres and fly several hundred kilometres in any direction. Visit in January or February and you might get to witness Western Australia's State Hang Gliding Championships. Food, fuel and a comfy bed for the night are also on offer in Wyalkatchem, with budget and family friendly accommodation options including a caravan park with en-suite units, hotel rooms, motel units and a bed and breakfast.
Surrounded by pretty rolling countryside and pastures, it's easy to see why York became the first inland settlement for Western Australia's early colonists. Retaining its heritage charms, it remains Perth's favourite country escape for indulging in nature, history, arts, crafts and outdoor pursuits, from horse riding to skydiving. A drive along the Great Eastern Highway takes you from the bustle of the city to the blissful tranquillity of the Avon Valley heritage town in less than an hour and a half. Proud to be one of the few towns in Western Australia to hold 'Historic Town' status, York has taken great care over restoring its many opulent Victorian and Federation buildings and churches. Whatever time of year you visit, the restored York Residency Museum and myriad antique stores offer great ways to wile away an afternoon, after a lazy lunch at one of York's quaint tearooms, cafes or restaurants. Beyond, the Avon Valley beckons lovers of the great outdoors to enjoy a leisurely round of golf or horse trek, or perhaps try something a little more daring, such as hang-gliding or skydiving. Your accommodation options are equally wide-ranging, from a family-friendly caravan park to charming bed and breakfasts and five-star luxury. Little wonder it's a top spot for romantic weekends, family fun and even corporate conferences, training and social events.
Central Wheatbelt Visitor Centre
85 Barrack Street, Merredin Western Australia 6415, Australia
Phone: (08) 9041 1666 | www.wheatbelttourism.com
The Central Wheatbelt Visitor Centre is located in the heart of Merredin; a thriving regional town a pleasant three hours' drive from Perth and Kalgoorlie along the Great Eastern Highway. The Central Wheatbelt Visitor Centre is located on the Avon Link and Prospector TransWA railway route. The friendly staff are happy to welcome you to the centre and advise you on travel and attractions throughout the Central Wheatbelt as well as other parts of Western Australia. They offer a range of maps and brochures to assist you while exploring the region as well as selling local craft and merchandise items including local history books and wildflower guides. Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm.
Mundaring Visitor Centre
The Old School 7225 Great Eastern Highway, Mundaring Western Australia 6073, Australia
Phone: (08) 9295 0202 | www.mundaringtourism.com.au
The Mundaring Visitor Centre is a National Tourism Accredited Visitor Centre located in the old school house in the heart of Mundaring and is the ideal first port of call to seek information on local attractions, trails, activities, wineries, dining and accommodation options. The Mundaring Visitor Centre also manages campsite bookings and general enquiries for Lake Leschenaultia. The centre also houses the district museum, so it is well worth a visit to learn more about the history of the area, as well as a retail section stocked with a selection of souvenirs, local produce, walk and cycle trails, including the long distance Bibbulmun Track and Munda Biddi Trail, regional maps and general information. The staff has a wealth of local knowledge and is able to assist with local maps, information and suggestions to help you get the most out of your visit to the Perth Hills. The Mundaring Visitor Centre is open seven days; from 9:30am to 4.00pm Monday to Saturday and 10:00am to 2:30pm on Sundays and most public holidays (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday).
Northam Visitor Centre
2 Grey Street, Northam Western Australia 6401, Australia
Phone: (08) 9622 2100 | www.northam.wa.gov.au
The Northam Visitor Centre is located in the Experience Perth Region. As an accredited Visitor Centre they offer a one stop shop of information provided by local experts. Stock up on maps, get some ideas on the best things to see and do or book your tours or train and bus tickets. The Northam Visitor Centre is also home to a wide variety of exhibitions, along with local artwork and produce. The Centre is open seven days a week, 9.00am to 4.00pm, including Public Holidays (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Good Friday).