By: Tatum Stafford
York is the oldest inland town in Western Australia. Established in 1831, the town is renowned for its rich heritage, colonial architecture and outstanding natural beauty.
Be it old-fashioned lollies for the kids, museum exhibits for history buffs or epic hikes for nature lovers, there’s something for everyone in a visit to this quaint town.
So if you’re ready for a day filled with iconic WA history, trinket shopping and picturesque hikes, plug York into your GPS and hit the road.
At a glance
|Distance from Perth||96 kilometres, about 90 minutes' drive|
|Why go?||To experience some of WA’s oldest buildings, fascinating ‘old-timey’ trinket shops, and sweeping fields of canola and wildflowers.|
|When to go||
Feb: The annual York Medieval Fayre, filled with mock warrior battles, blacksmith displays, duel re-enactments and archery competitions.
|How long to stay||You can easily do York in a day, but hit the road early so you have plenty of time to explore it. Alternatively, if you’ve got time to stay overnight and make the most of it with some self-guided drives and hikes.|
|Need to know||Opening days and hours can differ for most attractions, so check the visitor website first. If you’re interested in a digital guided tour, download the Shire of York Trails & Tours app before arriving.|
|Fast facts||Town population: 3,688
Indigenous people: Balladong Noongar
|Insider tip||If you’re bringing the kids, complete the Tiny Doors of York trail. Organised by local volunteers and the Shire of York, it’s a fun way to explore the town on foot to meet some of the ‘tiny residents’. Collect your map of tiny doors from the York Visitors Centre.|
|Related road trips|
Top things to see and do
Self-drive 'Ghost Town' tour
Many believe the history of York is peppered with paranormal occurrences – and one of the best ways to see the town’s (supposedly) haunted locations is on a self-driving tour. This 160-kilometre trip begins at the York Town Hall and takes you to a few old homesteads, cemeteries and the abandoned Wheatbelt town of Balkuling.
One stop that isn’t included on this tour (but is a must-see for paranormal fanatics) is the Old York Hospital. A former matron who worked at the hospital in the 1920s noted that staff refused to go into the upstairs rooms alone, even “when the upstairs ward was full of patients.” The building was turned into a hostel in the 1980s, with many patrons reporting terrifying experiences, including doors slamming shut, groaning noises coming from inside the walls, and even a levitating teapot. It’s a private residence now, so you can catch a glimpse of it with a drive-by.
10 of WA's most haunted places »
York Bushland Garden
The Wheatbelt is known for its spectacular wildflower season, so no spring trip to York would be complete without a glimpse of the town’s bountiful blooms. The garden is just a short walk from town, displays over 300 species of WA native flora, and is maintained by the York branch of the Wildflower Society of WA.
Mount Brown Lookout
It’s one of York’s most Instagrammable locations – and for good reason. The hike up to the Mount Brown Lookout is 7.5 kilometres return, and will take you over York’s original swinging bridge, through a Memorial Grove, and past plenty of local flora and fauna. Once you reach the lookout platform, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of surrounding mountains and the town centre.
White Gum Farm
If you’re feeling adventurous, plan a trip to White Gum Farm. This ‘adventure park’ is packed with quirky attractions, including a four-wheel obstacle course, a kangaroo sanctuary, a private air park for gyrocopter flights and the purpose-built water feature Lake Kimberley which is ideal for swimming and canoeing in warmer months. There’s also plenty of caravan, campervan and tent camping sites that are packed with amenities if you need a place to spend the night.
Penny Farthing Sweets
This old-fashioned sweet shop is a staple on York’s main street. Stocked to the brim with every kind of sweet, lolly, chocolate and fudge flavour you can imagine, this quaint shop is known for its friendly staff and quirky memorabilia – even including a few miniature penny farthings mounted on the wall.
York Canola Fields
Among tourists, York is perhaps most famous for is its sweeping canola fields. Flowering between August and September, these vibrant fields of yellow make for an excellent photo opportunity, and reflect the hard work of local farmers and graziers.
All canola fields in York are private property – and therefore, it is illegal to touch or walk through the fields. If you’d really like to walk through canola fields, the PetTeet Park in Gilgering (a 30-minute drive from York) houses a canola crop that is purely for tourists.
York Motor Museum
If you fancy yourself a car connoisseur, a pit-stop at the award-winning York Motor Musuem is a must. Displaying an extensive range of vintage racing bikes, classic cars and motorcycles, the museum opened in 1979 by classic car enthusiasts Peter Briggs and James Harwood. One of the museum’s most notable exhibits is the ‘Never Never Tours’ Valiant ute that was used in “Crocodile Dundee”; signed by Paul Hogan himself.
As it’s a relatively small town, cycling and walking are commonplace in York. However, if you plan on visiting natural attractions and townships surrounding York, it’s best to use your car.
What to pack
York experiences dry, hot summers and wet, cool winters. Wear comfy and light casual clothes during the day in spring and summer, but bring along warm jumpers and jackets if you're visiting in cooler months. If you’re planning on tackling some of the town’s walking trails or climbs, be sure to pack sunscreen and sturdy walking shoes.
The drive to York from the Perth CBD is moderately easy as it's mostly on highways - but make sure you're road-trip ready with our long distance driving tips.
Need to fuel up before hitting the road?
RAC members get 4 cents a litre off fuel at participating Puma Energy, Better Choice, Gull and Peak service stations.
Last updated: July 2020