Robert Dale, a 21 year old officer of the 63rd Regiment, was assigned the task of the first exploratory journey from Perth over the Darling Range during the winter months of 1830 into what was later to become known as the Avon Valley.
The journey by this young officer accumulated in York being settled on the banks of the Avon River on the 16th of September 1831, and holding the distinction of being Western Australia’s first inland town.
It is undoubtedly one of the most charming and picturesque towns in Western Australia, a popular day trip destination from Perth. Located just a short 1.5 hour drive or 97 kilometres east of Perth, this town is living history. A History demonstrated through its historic town classification | 5 generations of families |established businesses and farms | museums | gallery’s | churches & fine Victorian and Federation buildings.
York remains a vibrant town of growth with state of the art facilities & services while preserving its architectural charm & style. The many lovingly maintained and restored homes, buildings, gardens & flourishing business offer the explorer a unique insight into Western Australia’s rich, pioneering past, and a clear glimpse of the future.
Background to exploration
The first exploratory journey from Perth
With the ballooning population of the then Swan River Settlement in the early 1800’s, it became evident and of an urgent nature to find suitable land for the growing of crops needed to provide much necessary food.
As a result of these explorations, Governor Stirling decided that the new district would be thrown open for selection and this was done by Government Notice on 11 November 1830.
First surveyed by Ensign Robert Dale in 1831, the name York was decided upon as it held strong resemblance to York England when view of the elevated position of Mt Brown.
A vibrant town in the making
The township did not begin to appear until 1836 when army barracks and a store were built along with the clearing of 50 acres of land. The first town centre began to take shape as private and Government buildings were erected in an area known as Blandstown. The re location of the main street as seen today was decided upon due to flooding concerns and moved less than 400 meters along the Avon River to slightly higher ground. It was later discovered that even this new location was not safe from the winter swelling of the Avon. The town flooded several times and the high tide marks are etched into the walls of the many buildings. A plaque on the Castle Hotel reflects the levels from the 19?? flood. (Image)
The first decade of settlement in York showed steady progress and a clear indication that the whole district to be known as the Avon Valley should developed into a rich and prosperous farming area. Wheat sheep and barley were identified as the most suitable of crops and stock in which to farm. The Towns of Beverley, Brookton, Quairading, Northam & Toodyay were all settled off the results of York in the following years.
York may have continued as an attractive and small settlement had it not been for an unusual conjunction of events. The town had always been an important departure point for the intrepid pastoralists, sandalwood cutters and explorers who tried their luck in the dry flat plains beyond the coast. In 1886 this process was greatly improved by the arrival of the Railway. This lucky event occurred within two years of the discovery of gold at Southern Cross and later at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.
By 1887 the town was teeming with miners and fossickers, all alighting from the train and preparing to make the long journey across the plains to the goldfields.