Step back in Time in Toodyay
Being one of WA’s oldest towns Toodyay is steeped in history. One of the easiest ways to ensure you see it all is to follow the Living History Walking Trails. This network of trails will take you on a journey back through time to the early settlement era. Each trail ranges from 10 minutes to an hour in length. Some points of interest include:
Connor’s Mill was built in 1870 for Daniel Connor. It was the third Mill built in Toodyay and became the most successful. Over the years the mill had many uses including being a flour mill, power station, tourist information centre and museum (currently). Today the Mill houses working milling equipment which is powered by a steam engine (now using electricity). Exhibits include other Toodyay industries and the story of Daniel Connor, the “King” of Toodyay.
The Newcastle Gaol, now a museum, was built in 1864 when the town was still called Newcastle. It was commissioned after the notorious bushranger Moondyne Joe escaped from the lock up, pushing the magistrate into requesting a larger, more secure facility. The building has also been used as a private residence before being restored into the museum it is today. Exhibits detailing Toodyay’s history are held in the gaol cells, living quarters, and across the road at the police stables and shearing shed.
One of Toodyay’s oldest buildings is St Stephens Anglican church. It was built in 1862 by George Hasell. Out the front of the church is a 375 year old Flooded Gum that is now recognised as having huge historical significance to the town. Today the Anglican church still holds regular services for their loyal followers.
The Freemasons’ Hotel was constructed as a single story building in 1862. From then until 1904 various owners added extra rooms and a second story. The single story premises had many uses over the years including a hairdressing saloon, tobacconist and SP betting shop. Today the hotel has a restaurant, bottleshop and TAB as well as hotel and motel style accommodation. Being one of Toodyay’s first buildings there are quite a few ghost stories… but we will leave you to discover them yourself.
The Ellery Arcade consist of six shops that were built in two stages between 1882 and 1907. There have been a variety of businesses in the shops including saddlers, printers, cafes and tailors. Today there is a range of cafes, gift shops and the butcher – which has been housed in that shop since it was built.
The Old Post Office was built in 1897 to the standard design that was used during the late 1890s. This post office is one of the few remaining examples of that design still in existence today. In 2001 the postal business moved to a new premises. Today the building is used by a cooperative of Toodyay producers to sell locally made produce and products.
The Toodyay Library, formerly the Mechanic’s Institute, was built in 1874. It was a place where the working man could find instructive literature. At its peak the institute also served as a meeting room, theatre and social centre but by 1921 member numbers had reduced and the Institute closed. Eventually the building opened as the Toodyay Public Library where you can find an excellent range of books, audio books and DVDs. There are also publically accessible computers and regular activities for everyone to enjoy.
The Catholic Church Precinct is an impressive assortment of buildings that were built between the 1860s and 1963. The site has been used for a multitude of purposes including a convent, boarding house, high school and educational camp. In 2003 the site was occupied by Franciscan Monks until the 2018. Church services are still held regularly at the St John of God Baptist Church.
The Courthouse was built in 1897 on the site of the convict hiring depot. By 1903 the last Resident Magistrate had withdrawn and the building was vacated. Over the years much of the convict hiring depot became derelict and was demolished. In 1958 the Toodyay Road Board renovated the Courthouse and in 1985 further additions were made to construct what is now the Shire of Toodyay administration offices. In 2010 an archaeological excavation around the site found the remains of the old convict hiring depot.
The Newcastle Hospital was completed in 1895. By 1905 it was ordered to be closed due to low occupancy rates and high costs. A diphtheria epidemic in 1907 justified the hospitals existence and it was reopened in 1910. The hospital closed again in 1940 and is used as a private residence today.
For more information on what you can see and do in Toodyay, as well as accommodation options, please continue to browse our website.