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Perth Local Tour: - Avon Valley

Journey through time as you encounter the historic towns of Western Australia??s Avon Valley ¨C their romance and charm enhanced by picturesque landscape and opulent buildings from the Victorian era. Visit Australia??s only monastic town, jump out of a plane for some adrenalin-charged skydiving or take it easy and enjoy relaxing strolls and picnics in National Parks amid a blanket of wildflowers.

Duration: 3 Days

Day 1: Perth - York

From Perth city, it??s a 45-minute drive along Great Eastern Highway to the hills district, where you can catch a glimpse of ?°metropolitan?± country living in Mundaring. This leisurely drive offers some gorgeous scenery ¨C and it??s worth stopping in the John Forrest National Park to stroll along a walk trail and discover dramatic granite outcrops and waterfalls.

The hills are well known for walk trails and bushland parks, with Lake Leschenaultia offering a top spot for summer swimming and canoeing. Hire a mountain bike in Perth and take it along to attempt the 15 km Mundaring Loop Trail, starting in town at the Hills Forest Discovery Centre ¨C it??s sure to get the blood pumping.

Take a picnic lunch or head into the town centre for a bite to eat at a local caf¨?.

Three quarters of an hour from Mundaring is York - Western Australia's first inland settlement, established in 1831.

A treasure trove of galleries, arts, crafts, and heritage museums, York is also renowned for its local woodcraft. Exquisitely handcrafted furniture made from recycled materials can be purchased from many studios, so wander through town to pick up some gorgeous souvenirs.

Thrill seekers can experience York through more heart-racing methods. The skydiving centre caters to all levels, with tandem flights available for beginners - go ahead and take the plunge.

York offers accommodation to suit every budget, from five star luxury, to charming bed and breakfasts. There are caf¨?s and restaurants in town too, so enjoy a delicious dinner before settling in for the night.

Overnight:  York

Day 2: York ¨C Toodyay

Get an early start and head to Northam, in the heart of the Avon Valley, to welcome the first signs of dawn shedding light over the countryside from a hot air balloon. Be sure to make a prior booking with the ballooning company before setting off on the 20-minute drive from York.

Once back on land, drop by the Avon Valley Visitors Centre to check out what to see and do in Northam, before browsing local arts and crafts and grabbing a meal at one of the town??s al fresco caf¨?s.

Walk off the lunch-time kilos by setting off on the Northam Heritage Trail. It includes a two-kilometre town walk and a four-kilometre town drive to help you discover some of Northam's pioneering heritage. Or head into the Avon Valley National Park for a riverside walk that begins at the picnic area at the end of 41 Mile Road.

Check out Northam??s pedestrian suspension bridge which spans the river.  It??s the longest of its kind in Australia and is an ideal vantage point to photograph the graceful white swans, found nowhere else in Western Australia.

Morby Cottage, built in 1836 by one of Northam's first families, stands as an excellent tribute to the spirit of the district's early pioneers. It??s listed with the National Trust after undergoing a restoration in 1987.

Toodyay, 20 minutes west of Northam, has its share of history to tell as well, including Connor??s Mill, a three-storey working flour mill. Lovely riverside picnic spots are nearby or head up to Pelham Reserve for sensational views of the valley.

Visit the emu farm to buy emu eggs, oil and cosmetics or purchase some original garden sculptures from one of the local potteries.

All this fresh air and activity may leave you weary, so check into one of Toodyay??s self-contained cottages or hotels, and indulge in a glass of Western Australian wine as the sun goes down ¨C the perfect precursor for a good night??s rest.

Overnight: Toodyay

Day 3: Toodyay ¨C New Norcia

From Toodyay, head west to pick up the Great Northern Highway to New Norcia and the serenity of Australia??s only monastic town. This drive will take just over an hour.

The monks of New Norcia??s Benedictine Monastery welcome visitors to join them at prayer times, and there is a guesthouse for those looking for a peaceful overnight stay.

Along with the charm and beauty of New Norcia??s historic Spanish architecture, tummies are in for a treat, too. The monks are famous for their freshly baked goods and olive oil, sold at the museum shop. Specialties include nut cake, crusty bread and wood-fired almond biscotti.

A day can easily be filled exploring the town. Guided tours leave the museum at 11am and 1.30 pm daily, or set your own pace with the help of a self-guided heritage trail.

The hotel, built in 1927 to house parents visiting children boarding at the colleges, is another affordable accommodation option.

Overnight: New Norcia

Arrive in Perth once again by taking a one and a half hour drive back down Great