Perth to York
Total distance: 97 kilometres
From Perth city, it's a 45-minute drive along the Great Eastern Highway to Mundaring in the Darling Ranges. Home to WA’s first conservation area, John Forrest National Park, it offers the perfect morning walk beside striking granite outcrops and waterfalls.
Another three quarters of an hour on the Great Eastern Highway brings you to the grand heritage town of York. Established in 1831, much of its Victorian and Federation architecture has been lovingly restored to house galleries, museums, cafes, restaurants and antique shops.
Those seeking a little more action and adventure can take in views of the Avon Valley landscape from 14,000 feet on a tandem skydive.
York to Northam, Toodyay and New Norcia
Total distance: 280 kilometres
Get an early start and head to Northam (25 minutes) for a majestic hot air balloon flight over the Avon Valley as dawn breaks (pre-booking is essential). The town of Northam is another heritage hotspot with a walk and drive trail revealing its pioneering history, including Morby Cottage.
Choose from a good selection of cafes and restaurants for brunch, or grab a breakfast picnic and head for the river, at the end of 41 Mile Road. Here, you can cross Northam's pedestrian suspension bridge (the longest of its kind in Australia) and photograph the nation’s only flock of white swans.
Toodyay is just a 20-minute drive west of Northam, with heritage architecture offering a blast from the early convict era, as well as local arts and crafts, fresh produce, wines and beautiful country gardens. Enjoy the tranquillity of Duidgee Park on the Avon River, or head up to Pelham Reserve for sensational views of the Avon Valley.
From Toodyay, join the Great Northern Highway to reach New Norcia for an afternoon of complete serenity in Australia's only monastic town. The monks of New Norcia's Benedictine Monastery have been living a simple communal life here since 1847. They welcome visitors to join them at prayer times, take a guided tour of the Spanish architecture and museum, and to indulge in the monastery’s freshly baked goods.
The journey back to Perth will take you approximately two hours. Alternatively, you can extend your weekend away and head into the wildflower country of Moora and Yalgoo to see some of the spectacular blooms that make up the largest collection of wildflowers on Earth.