Freelance writer and photographer with an interest in science communication. Always looking for new experiences and discoveries!
Published January 15th 2016
Scenery, ice cream and hands-on history
Just 96km east of Perth, York's quiet charm is a world away from the snarl of city traffic. But don't be fooled, its offerings have the sophistication to rival many 'big' places. Here are my top picks for a day sightseeing with kids. You can rearrange the order any way you like but you will need a car to discover these places.
Travelling along Great Southern Highway, about 20km before York, you'll come across Mt Observation. Take the short drive up Catchment Road which will reveal a rare treat, forest as far as the eye can see. There are a few tracks around the area or you can walk around the one-way loop road. As well as enjoying the wandoo landscape this is a great vantage point to spot wedge-tail eagles riding the thermals. A track near the centre of the loop will also lead you about 200m down to a bird hide. There are plenty of shaded picnic tables here, a couple of BBQs, and toilets (long drop). There is no drinking water, and as this forms part of Perth's water catchment area, no dogs are allowed.
Further down the highway towards York, take Ashworth Road (sealed and then gravel) to get to York Olive Oil Co. Importantly for the kids, this is also the home of York Ice-cream Co., who recently took out Champion Ice Cream at the Perth Royal Show (2015). On our visit our group tried the Mango, Vanilla, Salted Caramel and Nutella flavours, all so good! They are served in 150ml tubs with a spoon, so you can also take a bounty home with you if you have an esky (if not they have those too). There's plenty of space outdoors to enjoy your ice cream under the trees, as well as some play equipment and a pizza oven. The bespoke flying fox (zip line) is a really neat addition.
Their ice cream is popular year-round and it's not hard to see why. As well as their olive produce the shop sells a range of other WA produce, and Matt informs me they also offer 'pick your own' olives during harvest time. This sounds like a great hands-on day. The shop also has nice toilet facilities. They are open Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, so plan your trip accordingly!
Right in the town-site on Brook Street is possibly the jewel in York's crown, the Residency Museum. This is a professional museum run by the Shire and volunteers. It offers the perfect blend of collection, hands-on discovery, and
education experiences. Throughout the buildings the history of York unfolds, each room packed with detail and peppered with personal accounts that really evoke the time. For the kids there is signage throughout indicating that an exhibit can be explored and touched. From making 'butter', to music, dress-ups, puzzles, colouring, craft, and more... there is plenty to pack into a visit. There is even a croquet set available to use on the front lawn. This would be great fun in mild weather but bring a hat. Photography is only allowed in the dress-up room so I can't share the scenery, you'll have to visit yourself. Entry is $4 for adults and $2 for children under 16 (free for York residents). Open 11am-3:30 weekends and public holidays; 1-3pm Tues-Thurs.
Under the shade outdoors you'll find plenty of tables including those suitable for large groups. It's hard to feel anything but calm in this setting and the kids can play happily for quite a while on the basic play equipment. The children's menu had choices such as toasties ($5) and on the day of our visit freshly squeezed OJ ($2.50). There were some amazing looking desserts, we tried the peach frangipane which was lovely. There is a good selection on the menu to suit breakfast, snacks or lunch; if you're there for lunch and want to save room for nice coffee and dessert you could try sharing the ploughman's platter ($16) between two. The café is open Wednesday-Sunday 8am-5pm or check on
If your young ones still have energy left after all that (ours didn't) some other places to try are a play at the park and suspension bridge along the river on Lowe Street, a visit to Gwambygine Reserve or even let them select some locally made socks to take home at the Sock Factory.