The Governor visited Northam on Thursday, 18th November 2020, meeting with local community and Shire of Northam representatives as part of his continuous promotion of regional Western Australia.
Since restrictions lifted in June, the Governor has been conducting a number of day trips around the Perth metropolitan area to encourage local tourism in a post-COVID-19 environment. These day trips supplement the Governor’s broader Regional Visit Program.
Located in the heart of the Avon Valley, just over 90km east from Perth, Northam is home to a diverse range of tourist and heritage attractions. Visitors can relax by the Avon River, take in some of the town’s rich history, or walk across the suspension bridge to view the white swans. Other attractions include hot air ballooning, walking trails, historic buildings, horse racing and much more.
Northam is home to a multitude of historical, cultural, and modern attractions, ranging from the second highest collection of historically significant buildings in WA to exciting new outdoor public art pieces. Alongside a vibrant calendar of regular events, Northam often hosts larger scale external events such as the National Ballooning Championships.
Above excerpt from Avon Valley Tourism
The Governor’s reflections
“Excellent day in Northam. On my previous visit in June I did not have time to get around as much of the town as I would have liked to. That was resolved very effectively this week.
Thanks very much to the Shire of Northam President Mr Chris Antonio and to the officials who accompanied him and kept me briefed.
We started at the Northam Aero Club – a club with many famous associations, not least that of Steve Fossett – an American who left on his famous round the world journey from there in 2002, in a hot air balloon, becoming the first person to fly around the world alone nonstop in any kind of aircraft.
Great to meet with Claude Meunier who likewise did the same trip but in a light aircraft. What incredible courage and calculation that took. Watch out for some of the ballooning competitions that the club does – hot air balloons are a beautiful sight to behold.
Very much appreciated the walking tour that we had through Northam’s old sites. This was particularly important to me because my great grandfather was a carpenter in Northam – for some time the only carpenter in Northam – and had a substantial hand in building the town, often at the behest of the Throssel family who were in partnership with him in various programs from time to time.
He was a convict and obtained a ticket of leave, eventually heading to Northam where he established a successful carpentry business. He got elected to the Northam Town Council at one point and was heavily involved in civic affairs. It was particularly interesting to go to the Post Office which was built in 1901 and refurbished somewhat in 1909. In the original building – at least according to the wonderful Post Master Lena Hinsley who showed me around – they had evidence of the relevant documents that he had a major hand in, including what was effectively the second Northam post office completed at the turn of the century.
We had lunch at Buckland Estate, one of the most beautiful buildings and the most superb grounds with a wonderful reputation developing as a great spot for weddings.
In the afternoon, I was pleased to help launch a book – a small biography of my Great Grandfather John Beazley, written by Rod Quinn – a teacher from WA and noted author of a multitude of English textbooks. This was held at the Farmer’s Home Hotel, which used to be the Shamrock Hotel and has been beautifully restored and is frequently the abode of visiting ministers and dignitaries from Perth.”
The Governor’s itinerary
Northam Aero Club
The Governor toured the historic Northam Aero Club, founded in 1968. The Club has about 120 members and owns a Cessna 172 aircraft which is used for flight training and for private hire to members.
Northam Airport provides an ideal learning environment, with its low traffic densities and freedom from controlled airspace.
Events include spot landings, visits to local farm strips and exercises designed to test pilots’ know-how. The Club also organises regular flying visits to other locations, mixing the improvement of flying and navigation skills with the pleasure of social interaction with others in the aviation fraternity.
The aim of the Club is to create and foster an interest in aviation in the minds of people living in both country and metropolitan regions and to provide an environment in which friendships among those interested in aviation can thrive. The Clubrooms and bar, operated by Club volunteers, are open at weekends and here you can enjoy social activities, or swap an aviation yarn or two with friends in air-conditioned comfort.
Avon Valley French Hot Bread Bakery
The Governor met with staff at the Avon Valley French Hot Bread Bakery.
One of two bakeries on Fitzgerald Street in Northam, the bakery’s owner Trang met with the Governor and showed him around.
Northam Visitor Centre and historical building tour
The Governor received a tour of Northam town centre attractions with President of the Shire of Northam Cr Chris Antonio and CEO of the Shire of Northam Mr Jason Whiteaker.
Buckland Estate is a family operated grand heritage property on Irishtown Road between Northam and Toodyay. In the 1830’s it was a Government allocation of over 8,000 acres but now the main home remains on 55 beautiful acres surrounded by rolling hills and farmland.
The property was settled in 1836 with most of the main buildings completed around 1872.
The Governor was given a tour of the Estate by owner Russell Percival, and enjoyed lunch with representatives from the Shire of Northam, Chamber of Commerce and Northam Women in Business.
Farmer’s Home Hotel
The Governor met with Mr David Hahn from the Farmer’s Home Hotel – a recently opened boutique hotel blending contemporary and old-world design.
The 16-room hotel occupies a building that’s been a part of Northam’s streetscape since the early 1800s. It started as a general store; survived the temperance movement (from which the attached Temperance Bar, which serves share plates and wines from the Swan Valley and Perth Hills, gets its name); and saw five significant expansions over the past century.
“The Life and Times of John Beazley” book launch at Farmer’s Home Hotel
The Governor attended the launch of a book about his great-grandfather John Beazley – an esteemed pioneer of the Northam district – at the Farmer’s Home Hotel.
The book, written by author Rod Quinn, details the life of John Beazley who was born in 1840 and transported to Western Australia as a convict at the age of 19. Labelled by legal authorities at various times as a rogue and vagabond, well-known thief, drunkard, and loose, idle and disorderly person, upon his death in 1912 his local newspaper described him as an esteemed pioneer of the Northam district.