Avon Valley visit made of the write stuff

Will YeomanThe West Australian
Early morning mist over the Avon River in York.
Camera IconEarly morning mist over the Avon River in York. Credit: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

Looking for another excuse to visit the pretty, historic town of York, just an hour’s drive from Perth in the picturesque Avon Valley, during spring, while one of the best wildflower seasons in recent times is rolling out its carpets of colours everywhere?

I didn’t think so. But just in case, there’s a little thing called the York Festival starting on September 25 and running until October 10.

Actually, it’s not so little. Like this year’s wildflower season, it promises to be one of the biggest and best yet, with more than 100 events.

I’d like to think that’s partly because Stephen Scourfield and myself will be there as part of the inaugural York Festival Writers Program on Saturday, October 2.

Jokes aside, both of us are regular visitors to York and love its people, its history, its stories and its artsy vibe, and we’re really looking forward to taking part in a number of readings and conversations across the day. We’ll start with a Breakfast with Stephen Scourfield featuring a spoken word and music performance celebrating rivers in general and the Avon River in particular. Proceeds will go to the York-based River Conservation Society.

Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield is a guest at this year’s York Festival.
Camera IconTravel Editor Stephen Scourfield is a guest at this year’s York Festival. Credit: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

Other Writers Program guests include Bill and Jenny Bunbury (Other Maps), Caitlin Maling (Fish Work), Alexander Thorpe (Death Leaves the Station), David Allan-Petale (Locust Summer) and Cristy Burne, pictured right, (Beneath the Trees). Genres include crime and literary fiction, history, children’s books, poetry and more. Local bookseller Barclay Books has come on board as the official bookseller.

As Festival director Jenny Garroun says, York Festival proudly celebrates its location in the WA Wheatbelt.

“The local community relishes the opportunity to share what we are most proud of — our beautiful heritage town, rich in history, rich in culture,” she says.

York Festival artistic director Jenny Garroun.
Camera IconYork Festival artistic director Jenny Garroun. Credit: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

Further highlights among the more than 90 performances, public talks, workshops, demonstrations and activities include:

  • A monster Jazz Program curated by Mace Francis (jazz returns to York — yay!)
  • “Rare and endangered crafts” embracing blacksmithing, fibre weaving, bootmaking, printmaking, embroidery and woodcarving
  • Circus workshops with NeuroCircus
  • A Lego recreation of York’s Avon Terrace
  • Improv comedy with The Big HOO-HAA
  • Classical music in A Night Out with Wolfie & Gang
  • Stargazing on Wongborel (Mt Brown) with Dadajaal Dance Company, Ballardong Noongar storytellers and astronomy guide Riley Johnston
  • History and architecture tours
  • An extensive Community Program includes:
  • Open Garden Trail with the York Garden Club
  • York Medieval Fayre presented by Act Belong Commit
  • Arts and crafts markets presented by Event Pop Artisan Markets
  • Performances by the Western Australian Police Force Pipe Band
  • Signals Sound Laboratory by AV artist Will Axten

Don’t forget to explore York’s museums:

  • York Motor Museum
  • Residency Museum
  • Sandalwood Letterpress Print Museum
  • Tipperary School
  • For families, there’s a superb playground and picnicking area right by the Avon River.
York seen from Mount Brown.
Camera IconYork seen from Mount Brown. Credit: Mogens Johansen

Where to stay (be quick — festival-time accommodation fills fast):

The Grandhouse York, 48 Panmure Road

Faversham House, 24-26 Grey Street

Hartleap Cottages, 4472 Great Southern Highway

York Cottages, 2 Morris Edwards Drive

Imperial Homestead, 83 Avon Terrace

York Traveller’s Rest Caravan Park, 2 Eighth Road

Where to eat:

Botanicalia Cafe, 152 Avon Terrace

The Good Life Store, 109 Avon Terrace

Gather York, 10 Henrietta Street

Imperial Homestead, 83 Avon Terrace

Castle Hotel, 97 Avon Terrace

Lake Kimberley Bar & Grill, White Gum Farm, 680 Cameron Road

Author Cristy Burne is a guest at the York Festival Writers Program.
Camera IconAuthor Cristy Burne is a guest at the York Festival Writers Program. Credit: Jessica Wyld/Supplied

For more details and to book, visit yorkfestival.com.au

Hear Stephen Scourfield and Will Yeoman discuss the York Festival Writers Program, and subscribe to POD FICTION, the official York Festival Writers Program, here

To find out more about what to do in and around York while you’re there, and to discover more accommodation and eating options, see visit.york.wa.gov.au

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