The historical town of Toodyay is located 85km north-east of Perth and is situated on the Avon River.
The first Europeans to explore the area were Ensign Dale and a small party from the Swan River Colony who were in search of fertile land for new settlers. Settlers having arrived at the Swan River Colony in 1829 soon discovered that the fertile land that Lieutenant Governor Stirling had promised, was not to be found. With disgruntled settlers leaving, the pressure was placed on the Colony to find land suitable for farming.
In 1830, Ensign Dale’s expedition found a way over the rugged hills of the Darling Ranges and found a river that Dale named “The Avon” and a grassy valley he called the “Avon Valley”. Dale marked three potential town sites, York, Beverley and Northam.
The Avon Valley would become the main agricultural and pastoral region up until the turn of the century. In 1836 the original townsite “Old Toodyay” was founded by a group of settlers including James Drummond Senior, Captain Francis Whitfield and Alexander Anderson. Having climbed over the Darling Range at Red Hill and establishing a new route to the Avon Valley via Jimperding they named a site, Toodyay, on a bend on the Avon River (near the present West Toodyay Bridge).
Prior to this Europeans entered the Avon Valley via York and Northam. Unfortunately, the Old Toodyay townsite was situated in an area prone to flooding.
In 1861 a new town, Newcastle, was gazetted about five kms upstream, marking the decline of Old Toodyay, as many moved to the new and safer town. Newcastle’s name was later changed to Toodyay, in 1911, after complaints were made over the mail confusion with Newcastle, in New South Wales.
The town of Toodyay grew and still grows from the agricultural activities of the early settlers such as sheep, cattle, wheat, barley, vines and beekeeping. The name Toodyay is derived from the Aboriginal word duidgee, meaning “place of plenty”.The population of Toodyay today is approximately 3,800.
Things You May Not Know About Toodyay
The infamous bushranger, Moondyne Joe (Joseph Bolitho Johns) roamed the hills around Toodyay in the 1860s and the town now celebrates his exploits with the Moondyne festival each spring.