Welcome to new Toodyay Historical Society website

The Town 0f Toodyay   

Toodyay is situated on the Avon River, 85 kilometres northeast of Perth, Western Australia. It was one of the earliest inland settlements in Western Australia. The first Toodyay township was on the site of today's West Toodyay.

We acknowledge the Ballardong people of the Noongar Nation as the traditional owners in the area. They gave Toodyay its name, which can mean both a place of plenty and a place of mist



Toodyay Historical Society 

The Toodyay Historical Society, established in 1980, is a knowledgeable, friendly and active organisation within the town.

Members meet monthly and also hold regular activities including excursions, dinners and lectures.

 The Society has a substantial library of publications relating to Toodyay and a growing collection of historical photographs. Members have produced a significant body of oral histories and a number of small publications relating to aspects of the town's history.  

Experienced members provide assistance to researchers, Toodyay businesses and local organisations in their historical research.

Finding Us

Postal Address: PO Box 32, Toodyay, WA 6566

Meetings: Drummond House,108B Stirling Terrace

Research Centre: Donegan's Cottage, Toodyay Showgrounds 


Drummond House, adjoining Bendigo Bank


7pm, third Wednesday of month (not December). Open for book sales, general information, and submitting enquiries: 10am-2pm Saturdays.



Donegan's Cottage Research Centre

Toodyay Showgrounds 

Toodyay West Rd  Toodyay WA 6566

Opening Hours Thursdays 1-3pm                           

(Other times by appointment)


Driving to Donegan's Cottage: Follow Stirling Terrace, cross Newcastle Bridge and take the first street on the left, Toodyay West Road.



Special Report! Documenting the 2009 Toodyay Bushfire, compiled and written by Dr R Taylor

Click here 



 75 Years Since the Bangka Island Massacre

On 16 February 1942, Sister Alma Beard of Toodyay was one of the twenty-one nurses and one civilian woman who were killed on Bangka Island whilst trying to return to Australia from Singapore during the Second World War.   

However, Alma Beard should be remembered for more than the way she died. Her family had lived in Toodyay for generations and Alma herself had a full and productive life before joining the armed forces.




 Toodyay: a brief history

Toodyay is situated on the Avon River, 85 kilometres northeast of Perth, Western Australia. It was one of the earliest inland settlements in Western Australia. The first township was on the site of today's West Toodyay.

We acknowledge the Ballardong people of the Noongar Nation as the traditional owners in the area. They gave Toodyay its name, which can mean both a place of plenty and a place of mist

From 1860, government and business activity was centred on the new townsite of Newcastle, several kilometres upstream. Newcastle's name was officially changed to Toodyay in 1910. The earlier site of Toodyay was renamed West Toodyay.

The area's history since white settlement has included farming, timber milling, sandalwood cutting, a Convict Hiring Depot, an Immigrant Depot, a gold-rush, tannin factory and historical tourism.

The area remains a 'place of plenty' today, with a busy town, a vigorous farming community and a significant 'tree-change' population. The town features a rich collection of historical buildings.

In 2015, Toodyay was the Australian Title winner of the Keep Australia Beautiful Australian Tidy Towns Awards, also winning three of the eight individual Categories.


Coming Events


April 2018

Sunday 29 April: Excursion to York, including Residency Museum tour (small entry fee) and the new ANZAC display in the York Town Hall. BYO lunch and afternoon tea.

Meet at Drummond House, 10am, for carpooling.

May 2018

Sun 6 May:  Moondyne Festival  - Please visit our stall and display in front of Drummond House, adjoining Bendigo Bank.  (Members, please join us on the stall roster)

Wed 16 May, 7.30 pm: THS Meeting, Drummond House


Past THS Events

E.L. Mitchell: the photographer who shaped Australia

Joanna Sassoon, special guest at our AGM in April, gave a fascinating talk on her recent book about E.L.Mitchell, the boy from Yorkshire who became a commercial photographer, much in demand. 

Mitchell started in the eastern states, then moved to WA. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work was often published in Western Mail features and the Battye Library holds large numbers of his works, which have tremendous value now for historians.

We also heard about the social and political aspects of his photography in presenting a particular view of the empire to the world.

It was quite surprising to hear the list of Yorkshiremen in Western Australian business and political circles who were also freemasons, like Mitchell, and apparently assisted in promoting his career. 

In any case, he was a superb photographer. His surviving works include around 20 wonderful images of Toodyay and surrounds, c.1920.

 Jenny Edgecombe showed copies of these Toodyay images at the April general meeting. We followed his Toodyay visit, first to iconic local buildings such as  Masonic Lodge, Gaol and St Stephen's, then up the Toodyay valley as far as  St Philip's Church. We discussed whether some of the intervening shots included Toodyay Brook flats at Hawthornden, Yock Lunn's orchard and  Coondle School.

Some of the Toodyay images will be displayed at our Moondyne Festival stall in front of Drummond House on Sunday 6th May.

convicts and shearing sheds

Historical Society members were treated to a special viewing of the new exhibition at the Newcastle Gaol Museum at the final event for 2017. Thank you to  Museum Curator, Margaret Eberle, for arranging this. THS member Beth Frayne, also one of the museum volunteers, played quite a role in research and preparations for this excellent exhibition,  'Toodyay Convict Hiring Depot'.

The evening continued with a convivial shared feast over the road in the Old Wicklow Shearing Shed which is becoming a popular events venue. 

October Sundowner at Connor's Mill

THS members spent a relaxed evening in the truly special ambience of the multi-level Mill. There was ample time to renew our acquaintance with the very detailed displays and discuss ideas and plans for future special events, particularly for the Mill's upcoming sesqui-centenary in 2020. 

Dr Toby Metcalfe: Terra Nullius: Cook to Mabo Part 2

Part 2 of this fascinating series, presented at the October meeting, covered events up to and including Mabo. As President Robyn Taylor reported in the Herald: “It has been salutary to listen to historical accounts revealing the declaration of ‘terra nullius’ was not universally accepted, and that people holding to the belief in a just system of law knew there should have been treaties with the rightful owners.”  

Conference of the Affiliated Societies of the RWAHS at Wanneroo

Four THS members attended this most successful conference. Speakers were inspiring, including members of long-established families involved in local industries, such as market gardening and lime- burning kilns. Those attending were particularly impressed by the City of Wanneroo venues and smooth running of the event. 

Talk by Native Plant Specialist Bob Dixon at former Wyening Mission 

Several members attended this morning tea and greatly enjoyed the talk by Bob Dixon,in  particular his extensive knowledge of wheat belt native plants.

Shame, Bikes and Zombies in Toodyay 

Did you know that filming was carried out in Toodyay for three commercial movies during the 1980s?

At the recent Toodyay movie nostalgia night, an appreciative audience watched some very entertaining trailers and short excerpts from Shame, Zombie Brigade and Black Medicine, identifying many Toodyay settings and locals who were 'extras'.

There were also historical local home movies and short talks on the picture shows in Toodyay and the careers of  our member Beth's father and grandfather in the WA film industry. 

Did you miss it? Then visit Donegan's Cottage at the Toodyay Agricultural Show in October. There will be a display of photographs and film of Film and Picture Shows in Toodyay.

Egoline Homestead Visit






A small group of members was lucky enough to be able to visit historic Egoline Homestead prior to the departure of its most recent owners.

The property was taken up by Richard Hinds (1837), then by John Sewell (1854), the Wilkerson family (1870), the Sharman Family (1986-1992).  has There are three sections to the main homestead building, dating from the 1850s, 1870 and 1917. A small cottage was added in the 1930s.


River Avon Training Scheme talk  

At the July meeting, Wayne Clarke presented a fascinating talk on the history of the River Training Scheme implemented by five councils from Brookton to Toodyay. This scheme changed the river forever. We were also treated to a short film relating to this scheme.

Toodyay-Bolgart Railway History excursion 




Jenny led this informative tour for our June excursion. We started with the site of the old railway station (present-day Medical Centre) in Toodyay and ended at St. Philip’s Anglican Church graveyard, Culham, for afternoon tea. 

In between, we visited the remains of the Avon River railway bridge, railway embankments along Toodyay West Road and other railway sites along the Toodyay-Bindi Bindi Road were visited. One of the highlights was viewing what Jenny believes must be the location of Charles Yock Lunn’s homestead and Lunn’s Landing at Coondle.






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