Trip Start Jul 25, 2012
136Trip End Ongoing
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This a very picturesque town full of history and quaint old buildings. The Avon River however was almost dried up and not at all 'picturesque' with all the algue floating on it.
The town centre was a lovely 15 minute, leisurely stroll along the river from the caravan park, which the dogs and I did.
Did a stupid thing on the way to the toilet block, walking along and Wham! Bam!
Tripped over the hump on the road in the dark, almost did a Julia but I saved myself, but in doing so hurt my back and had trouble walking straight for a couple of days.
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. The first village was
established in 1836. Drummond established his homestead Hawthornden
nearby. The original location is subject to flooding, which led to its
abandonment in the 1850s, and a new townsite was established on higher
ground 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) 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'.
The meaning of the name is uncertain, although it is Indigenous
Noongar in origin - maps in 1836 referred to "Duidgee", while some
believe it was named for a local woman named Toodyeep who accompanied
early explorers in the area. The Shire of Toodyay's official history gives the meaning as "place of plenty".
On the other hand, local anthropologists Ken Macintyre and Dr Barbara
Dobson have postulated "that Duidgee most likely mimics a birdcall whose
song once reflected the rich seasonal habitat of the bulrush-fringed
pools and creek-lines of the Toodyay Valley", possibly the Restless Flycatcher or one of that family.
According to Noongar belief, a bird calls its own name
"Duidgee" is preserved in the riverside recreation area "Duidgee Park".
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.
In 1870, a steam-driven flour mill, Connor's Mill,
was built on Stirling Terrace by George Hasell
to generate electricity in the early twentieth 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
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 includes the Gaol, Connor's Mill, Toodyay
Public Library (built 1874), the old Toodyay Post Office (designed by George Temple-Poole and built 1897) and the old Toodyay Fire Station (designed by Ken Duncan, built 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.
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 Unwins Store on Stirling Terrace, and Butterly's Cottage (c. 1870)on Harper Road.