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.