A Natural Selection

York is the oldest inland town in Western Australia, about an hour’s drive east from Perth (approximately 97 kilometres). York is nestled in the Avon Valley and overlooked by Mount Bakewell and Mount Brown.

When the population of the Swan River Settlement (now Perth) began to swell in 1829 it soon became obvious that the sandy soils would not provide for the growing numbers of hungry settlers. A search began for more fertile, crop-bearing land.

During the winter of 1830, Ensign Robert Dale, 21 year old Officer of the 63rd Regiment, made the first exploratory journey over the Darling Ranges to discover the fertile lands of the Avon Valley. The new district was thrown open for selection on 11 November 1830.

The first explorers saw a resemblance between the lush valleys and their own country of Yorkshire.  It was decided by the Governor that Yorkshire should be the name given to the district, and that York should the be name of the first town.

The first settlers arrived in the valley on 15 September 1831, constructing huts and making preparations required for raising stock and growing crops.

By 1832 hostility between the Balladong Noongar people and Europeans increased as Europeans took over territory for sheep and crops, depriving the Noongar people of their water holes and hunting grounds. The settlers demanded that soldiers were posted at York to protect them from the increasing conflict and an outpost was established.

Between the 1830s to the 1880s, York became an important departure point for sandalwood cutters and explorers exploring the eastern section of the state. In 1886 the railway reached the town. Within two years gold was discovered at Southern Cross, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. Miners, prospectors and fossickers took the train to York and then made their way, on foot, on horse or by any means available, across the plains to the goldfields.

Between 1886–1900 most of the town’s major public buildings were constructed. A post office was built in 1893 and a new Court House and Hospital in 1895.

The significance of the architecture and history of York’s buildings led to the town being classified by the National Trust as York Historic Town.

Read More from History