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Avon Valley, WA
18 Panmure Road, York
Phone: (08) 9641 1296
The Location Founded in 1831 on the banks of the Avon River, York was the first inland European settlement in WA, and the last substantial town on the 500-kilometre trek to the Kalgoorlie goldfields. Today, it owes its wide streets, grand historic buildings and reincarnation as a tourist destination to the massive influx of wealth from the goldrush of the 1880s.
The Place Laurelville is itself a product of the same golden age: it was built in the late 1890s and the eight bedrooms - especially those downstairs - plus the billiard room, dining room and lounge, all retain their beautiful turn-of-the-century ceilings, polished floors and fireplaces. Decor-wise, it's Downton Abbey meets Calvin Klein - all sophisticated greys, creams and oyster shades. There are wonderful views over the town from the full-length verandahs.
The Experience Life at Laurelville is about taking pleasure in stylish detail: Bemboka blankets and Flaxfield bed linen; old-fashioned black bicycles (complete with wicker baskets) to pedal around town; perfectly prepared cheese platters; wonderful cooked breakfasts and morning and afternoon teas. Occasionally, you can't help catching sight of a tucked-away blackboard inscribed "Congratulations Ben and Jane!" (from September to December, Laurelville is a popular wedding venue), which does interfere slightly with your fantasies of Edwardian aristocratic living. But otherwise the spell remains unbroken.
Don't Miss York's historic attractions: among the most interesting are the Residency Museum (08 9641 1751), the York Courthouse Complex (08 9641 2072; yorkcourthouse.com.au) and the Sock Factory (08 9641 2122; thesockfactory.com.au).
Need to know
Cost: From $200 a room a night.
Distance: 95km (1.5 hours' drive) east of Perth.
Children: By prior arrangement.
Wheelchair access: Limited to downstairs only.