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 may mean a place of plenty or 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.


 Iconic Ringa Bridge 

 July Visit 



Special Report! Documenting the 2009 Toodyay Bushfire

 Click Here




 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 may mean a place of plenty or 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.



75 Years Ago:

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.


Coming Events


THS Activities

August 2018

Wed 15 July, 7.30 pm:
THS Meeting, Drummond House.

3 September 10am-12.00 noon: Special Toodyay Public Library event - free talk by Richard Rennie & demonstration of a reconstructed Edison PhonographHear about Professor Archibald's 1891 demonstration of the Edison Phonograph in the Newcastle Mechanics' Institute Sept 3 1891. 

Richard Rennie is founder of The Light and Sound Discovery Centre and has written The Encyclopedia of Western Australian Wirelesses and Gramophones.

RSVP to Toodyay Public Library (limited places) 9574 2323. 

Saturday 8 Sept, 3-5 pm: 'The Great Ride' a presentation on a World War I trek involving the 10th LIght Horse.  Special event in Toodyay Memorial Hall, sponsored byToodyay Historical Society & Toodyay RSL. Cost: Adults $5.00, children free. For more information scroll down Home Page 

Fri 7-Sun 9 September: Affiliated Societies of the Royal WA Historical Society's Annual Conference at Cervantes. Several THS members will be attending.

Wed 19 September: THS Meeting, Drummond House. 


THS Snapshots 
Butterly Cottages Association History
Dr Robyn Taylor presented a fascinating talk at the June THS meeting on the funding, building and ongoing history of the Butterly Cottages for local retirees in Toodyay. Very few Australian towns can boast such accommodation run by an independent volunteer body. The Committee's fundraising and organisational success over the years has been phenomenal.
Lost Images of Toodyay Rediscovered
At the movie afternoon in June, an enthusiastic crowd thoroughly enjoyed the introductory feature, a short film from the Eastern Goldfields Historical Society. It told the fascinating story of the completion of the Trans Australian railway, with many wonderful images.  
The main feature was a film made by Rick Mason, who was involved in the exciting rescue and identification of a wonderful recently-discovered collection of Toodyay-related glass negatives in the collection of Robert Faust, who was manager of the Toodyay CLub 1911-1931. Members were able to view a display of copies of some of the prints from these negatives during afternoon tea.

Nursing at Toodyay

The July meeting was enlivened by a real treat: Desrae Clarke's Oral History interview with former Toodyay nurse, Agnes Cook. Agnes described with great good humour the very basic living and nursing conditions which existed at Toodyay Hospital in earlier years, around the 1930s-1940s.

Historic York

A very cheery group of members enjoyed the recent Historical Society visit to York, which included a fascinating tour of the Residency Museum. After a picnic lunch in the museum grounds we explored the wonderful new ANZAC display in the York Town Hall. 

Moondyne Festival

This year's Moondyne Festival in Tooday was a great success, in spite of the changeable weather. Our Historical Society stall was popular. Visitors enjoyed studying our display on Moondyne Joe. Others were keen to make  inquiries about their own Toodyay ancestors.  

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 moved to W.A. 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.
He was a superb photographer. Toodyay Historical Society has obtained copies of 19 wonderful images of Toodyay and surrounds, c.1920, believed to be the work of Mitchell.
 Jenny Edgecombe showed copies of these Toodyay images at the April general meeting. These included iconic local buildings such as  Masonic Lodge, Gaol and St Stephen's,St Philip's Church and rare shots of what were probably Yock Lunn's orchard and  Coondle School.

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. 

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.”  







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