……Northern Gateway to Route 120
……Gateway to the Goldfields
Northam is a town in Western Australia, situated at the confluence of the Avon and Mortlock Rivers, about 97 kilometres east-northeast of Perth in the Avon Valley. At the 2016 census, Northam had a population of around 6,500 and is the largest town in the Avon region. It is also the largest inland town in the state not founded on mining.
The area around Northam was first explored in 1830 by a party of colonists led by Ensign Robert Dale, and subsequently founded in 1833.
It was named by Governor Stirling, probably after a village of the same name in Devon, England. Almost immediately it became a point of departure for explorers and settlers who were interested in the lands which lay to the east. This initial importance declined with the growing importance of the nearby towns of York and Beverley, but the arrival of the railway made Northam the major departure point for prospectors and miners heading east towards the goldfields.
Northam has one of the highest concentrations of heritage places of any town in regional WA. It’s collection of heritage places reflects the important role that the town played from the earliest days of the colony. A number of older buildings still serve the community
Northam was one of the first towns to be established following the founding of the Swan River Colony in 1829. In the 1860s, the town started to grow due to the establishment of a flour mill, and by the 1890s, Northam has become a vital part of the Western Australian map as the ‘Gateway to the Goldfields’ when the Perth to Eastern Goldfields railway was routed through Northam. Northam continued to prosper during the twentieth century, as epitomised in the stunning 1970s Brutalist style Town Council Offices and Library.
A vast range of places in the town of Northam that are recognised in the State Register of Heritage Places includes places of varying architectural styles, building purpose, and construction dates, as well as a cemetery and memorial gravesite.
These include the grand residences of Uralia and Fermoy House, the civic buildings such as the Northam Post Office and Northam State School, commercial properties such as the ANZ Bank and Bank of New South Wales, and Western Australian architectural icons such as the Town Council Offices and Library.
The Avon Descent Whitewater Classic
The Avon Descent is one of Western Australia’s oldest and greatest sporting events and attracts competitors and spectators from throughout Australia and the world. Avon Descenters challenge the Avon and Swan rivers in a variety of paddle and power craft in an exciting two-day time trial over 124 gruelling kilometres.
The Avon Descent was first held in 1973 with just 49 competitors, no rules, no officials, no checkpoints and very few spectators. In the years since, over 35,000 people have competed in the Avon Descent, from novices and families, to World Champions and Olympic competitors.
Visit the Avon Descent website HERE