This rejuvenating weekender takes you over 392 kilometres over two days into the lush folds of the Avon Valley, with its curious country towns, hidden secrets, wonderous wildflowers and vast open skies.

It’s only 30 kilometres east of Perth, but John Forrest National Park feels a thousand worlds away. On the outskirts of arty Mundaring, this was Western Australia’s first national park – a compact wilderness gem with forest trails, peek-a-boo wildflowers, waterfalls and the mysterious 340-metre Swan View Tunnel, disappearing into the hillside.

Cosy-up for the night in York. Established in 1831, most of the town is a National Trust showpiece, built on the back of 1890s goldrush. The heritage-listed main street is pretty as a picture, dotted with galleries, museums, B&Bs and cafes. York is also home to some superb skydiving: the world sure looks different from 14,000 feet.

Fronting onto the slow-roaming Avon River, Northam delivers the defining Avon Valley experience. From April to November, glam it up with a sunrise Champagne in a hot-air balloon, as you drift mesmerically over the valley floor.

A short drive north delivers you to historic Toodyay, with more 19th-century architecture and a winery that’s been producing the good stuff since the 1870s. Toodyay was also where Moondyne Joe, the local version of Ned Kelly, busted out of prison – something he did with impressive regularity.

New Norcia, a cinematic little town built in Spanish-mission architectural style by Benedictine monks in 1847, is the last stop. Still a working monastery, join the white-robed monks at prayer time, then indulge in the famous wood-fired monastery sourdough and a Sunday-afternoon mug of New Norcia Abbey Ale.