Connor’s Mill in Toodyay has not milled wheat since 1921, but today it stands as a link to the town’s past.
It’s quite eerie watching the drive belts almost silently turn over smooth wooden rollers.
The original milling machinery was lost in an intense blaze which saw the building re-birthed as a powerhouse.
Today Toodyay is a town with a number of ‘destinations’ that attract a variety of visitors.
The Toodyay Visitors Centre, which used to be in the old mill, is now right next door in a purpose-built facility.
You will find a wide selection of brochures, maps and pamphlets to get you out navigating your way around the small town.
The original Toodyay is actually a couple of miles up the Avon River from its current location.
In 1860, the residents relocated to the site of the Convict Hiring Depot following a series of damaging floods.
The resettlement was named Newcastle.
The Newcastle Gaol, built in 1865, is open to visitors.
One cell is devoted to Moondyne Joe, WA’s most famous bushranger.
Another thing to see is a memorial to the three sons of the Dorizzi family, who resided there pre-WWII. Sadly, the three boys joined the army, served in Singapore and died as prisoners of war.
The Newcastle Gaol and associated stables are well presented, and definitely worth a look.
There was confusion with Newcastle sharing its name with the city in New South Wales.
So, in 1911 the town was renamed Toodyay and ‘Old Toodyay’ became West Toodyay.
Of more recent vintage is the Cola Cafe and museum.
It is a 1950’s style eatery offering retro meals in keeping with the theme.
It is also a museum dedicated to Coca Cola.
Michael and Rebecca Kays have continued the work of the original creator of the Cola Cafe.
They maintain the collection as a showpiece and have had visitors from the US and Europe who have travelled to Toodyay, just for the Cola Museum.
They have knocked back numerous offers on their collection of Coca Cola yoyos (see above).
Take a casual stroll up and down Stirling Street (below).
You will pass the Victoria Hotel (1864) and the Freemasons Hotel which was originally The Newcastle Hotel (1861).
You can call in to Sweethearts Cafe for a latte, the Toodyay Lolly Shop for a jube or the Toodyay Bakery to sample their award-winning sourdough.
Make a weekend of it and check out Australia’s only fully dedicated archery park.
There is also astronomical viewing at the ‘Spaceplace Observatory’.
There are several levels of accommodation to go with the variety of excellent restaurants and cafes
The overall atmosphere of Toodyay is one of tranquillity.
If you are looking for somewhere not too far from Perth to have a great day, there really is something for everyone at Toodyay.
For further information, contact the Toodyay Visitor Centre on 08 9574 2345, or visit www.toodyay.com.
Tony Fogarty is a travel writer, who blogs at www.tee-eff.com, where this article first appeared.