Our spontaneous mini-break to York, Western Australia
Are you tired of the same weekend routine? In need of a holiday but can’t take the time off work? We’ve discovered a mini break is the solution and beautiful York is the place to go! The oldest inland town in the whole of Western Australia has been on our bucket list for a while now.
It’s just one and a half hours drive from Perth through the rolling countryside, making it easy to take your kids along for the ride.
We decided to take a drive to York on the recent Mother’s Day weekend to relax and explore somewhere new. If, like my little dude, your kids can’t sit still in the car for even a short period of time, there are some great stops along the way to break up your journey. You could easily do this trip in a day, however we would recommend doing what we did and stay the night at a farm stay. This ended up being the highlight for our boys and turned our day drive into the mini-break we wanted and needed.
Get your little ones packing and take a look at our adventures in and around sleepy, historical York.
Things to do in York
Explore the tranquil Avon River
Just an easy few minutes walk from the town centre is the beautiful Avon River, perfect for a picnic and a play. Here you will find a shaded playground for the little ones and the highlight for my boys, a suspension bridge! Watching them madly run over it and bounce to their hearts content, took me back to my childhood days. There are a variety of walking trails to explore if your kids are still wanting to run wild after the drive to get here.
Wander the historical main street of York
As you enter the main street of York you feel like you have stepped back in time to the gold mining years. The historical buildings are amazing to see as they have been restored to their former glory.
Be sure to stop at the quaint Pennyfarthing Sweets. Here your kids can collect a basket at the entrance and find some little treats to fill it. There were free lolly tastings, loads of different sweets I’d never seen before as well as some New Zealand favourites. My boys found a toilet lolly which of course appealed to their sense of humour. The toilet bowl was filled with sherbet and came with a lollipop to dip in the sherbet. It went in and out of their basket a few times before they opted for something else, as they couldn’t get past the idea of eating something you “wee in”.
Take in the view from Mt Brown lookout
After a walk around, jump in the car and take an easy five minute drive out of town to the spectacular Mt Brown look out. Here you can get an amazing panoramic view across the Avon Valley. We went up to the lookout at sunset which was just stunning. How’s the serenity?
Treat yourself at Nguyen Bakery Cafe
A small town is never complete without a bakery. Located in the centre of York’s main street, make sure you check out Nguyen’s for a sweet treat or something savoury for lunch. The custard squares and lamingtons looked delicious but we settled for yummy steak pies instead.
Enjoy a cooked brekkie at The Flourmill Cafe
We were up early and arrived at The Flourmill Cafe at opening time to beat the Mothers Day rush. Well, there was no rush and no queues, unlike the cities on Mothers Day! It made us realise how hectic city life can be and how glad we were that we’d come to sleepy York for a break.
This fantastic cafe which as the name suggests, is actually an old flour mill serves up great coffee, milkshakes and traditional brekkies. My boys thought the thick chocolate milkshake they had was one of the best they’ve tried. The other highlight for our boys was the awesome playground which includes a cubby, slide and swings. We sat and enjoyed our coffee at an outdoor table while the boys happily played until breakfast arrived.
Take the kids to dinner at The York Palace Hotel
I took advantage of being away and opted to have a family dinner out at The York Palace Hotel. We were expecting a standard pub meal however we were pleasantly surprised to see some more contemporary dishes on the menu. I loved the delicious fresh salmon with pea risotto and hubby raved about his steak and salad. These meals came at a price (approximately $35-$38) but we thought they were well worth it.
The boys had chicken nuggets and chips which went down well as always. They thought the waitress was “the best lady ever” because she delivered a bowl FULL of tomato sauce sachets when they asked for more sauce.
Where to stay in York
Going to York, was a spirit of the moment decision for us. I wanted to find a farm stay for the boys to enjoy however many were booked out. We ended up staying at the quaint York Cottages located just one kilometre from the main street of York. Although it is not technically a farm stay these cottages had a definite rural feel about them.
There are three quaint cottages available, two are made from stone and the other, which we stayed in, looks just like a tin shed! We were wondering what to find inside the tin shed, however when we opened the door we were pleasantly surprised. We had a fully equipped kitchen, dining table, living area with TV, bathroom, separate toilet and two bedrooms. There was everything we needed for a nights stay including clean linen, towels and soap. On a cool winters night you could enjoy the novelty of lighting a fire in the open fire place. Our boys were surprised to find boardgames in the cupboard and there was a basket full of toys for toddlers.
Right next to our cottage were paddocks which to our surprise were filled with alpacas and sheep when we woke in the morning. My little dude thought the alpacas were polar bears with beaks, so the trip turned out to be rather educational for him. The owners kindly offered for the boys to feed the animals in the morning. The bonus of staying in the tin shed, was that it is directly opposite the York Cottages playground which our boys loved. We loved sitting outside at our table and chairs enjoying a drink while the boys happily played.
On your way to York from Perth
Stop in at the famous Mundaring Weir Dam
Who would’ve thought a dam could be so full of history? It’s amazing to think that this was the source of water that was pumped through the incredible pipeline running 600 kilometres to Kalgoorlie. Our boys loved keeping a look out for the pipeline which seems to pop up out of nowhere when driving through the hills. I looked up a few facts about this amazing engineering feat which my eldest enjoyed chatting about during our drive to York. The gates to the walkway across the dam are currently closed (April – November 2017) while work to upgrade the dam takes place. It’s still a great spot to visit and you can get a lovely view looking across the dam from the carpark.
Enjoy a coffee or a famous lamb spit roast at the Mundaring Weir Hotel
We just stopped in for a coffee however Sunday afternoons is when this historical hotel comes to life. You can settle in for the afternoon and enjoy their famous lamb spit roast and live music. Nestled amongst the trees, this hotel has a very relaxed feel and there’s loads of space for the kids to play table tennis, shoot hoops and run wild in the old ‘amphitheatre’. As if they needed more entertainment, there’s also a playground to keep the kids occupied.
Let the kids run free at the Mundaring Community Sculpture Park.
It has been on our bucket list since it opened last year and I’m so glad we checked it out. Located in a beautiful setting amongst the trees, there’s a huge range of play equipment for all ages including a huge birds nest swing, flying fox, rapidly spinning merry go round, climbing frame up to a long windy slide, nature play and tunnels to explore. We didn’t stop for long, however there’s all the facilities you need to relax for a few hours, including picnic tables, barbecue facilities and toilets.
Take a dip or a walk at Lake Leschenaultia
We saw the sign as we drove towards York and took a detour to check it out. This is a beautiful peaceful lake surrounded by forest and sandy banks to sit and picnic while the kids paddle. We loved how there are canoe boats for hire, but if that’s not your thing, you can take a three kilometre walk around the lake and there’s a cafe for refreshments afterwards. There is no entrance fee, although it looks like there may have been in the past. We stopped only briefly but we have plans to come back with a picnic!
I hope this has given you the inspiration to enjoy a mini-break away in beautiful York. Please feel free to ask any questions or provide any feedback in the comments below. Happy exploring!