is a town in the Southern Tablelands
The Southern Tablelands is a geographic area of the State of New South Wales, Australia. This area is located west of the Great Dividing Range.The area is characterised by flat country which has generally been extensively cleared and used for grazing purposes...
of New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...
in Yass Valley Shire. The name appears to have been derived from an Aboriginal word, "Yarrh" (or "Yharr"), said to mean 'running water'.
Yass is located about 280 km southwest of Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...
, on the Hume Highway
The Hume Highway/Hume Freeway is one of Australia's major inter-city highways, running for 880 km between Sydney and Melbourne. It is part of the Auslink National Network and is a vital link for road freight to transport goods to and from the two cities as well as serving Albury-Wodonga and...
. The Yass River
The Yass River is a river in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The town of Yass is located on the Yass River a short distance from its confluence with the Murrumbidgee River.There are two competing theories as to the origin of the name Yass...
, which is a tributary of the Murrumbidgee River
The Murrumbidgee River is a major river in the state of New South Wales, Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory . A major tributary of the Murray River, the Murrumbidgee flows in a west-northwesterly direction from the foot of Peppercorn Hill in the Fiery Range of the Snowy Mountains,...
, flows past the town. Yass is 56 km from Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...
Yass has an impressive and historic main street, with well-preserved 19th century verandah post pubs (mostly converted to other uses). It is popular with tourists, some from Canberra and others taking a break from the Hume Highway.
The Pride of Erin Festival and Yass Show are held in March and the Yass Arts-and-Crafts Festival in November.
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KSG is an Australian-American business magnate. He is the founder and Chairman and CEO of , the world's second-largest media conglomerate....
owns "Cavan", a large property just south of Yass.
The Yass area was first seen by Europeans in 1821, (an expedition led by Hamilton Hume
Hamilton Hume was the first Australian born explorer. Along with Hovell in 1824, Hume was part of an expedition that first took an overland route from Sydney to Port Phillip near the site of present day Melbourne...
) and by 1830 settlement had begun. It was founded where the nascent Sydney to Melbourne road crossed water in the form of the Yass River.
Yass was incorporated as a District Council in 1843, and boasted a population of 274 by 1848. On 13 March 1873, the Municipal District of Yass was created, and James Cottrell was subsequently elected as the first Mayor of Yass.
One of Australia's best-known poets, A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson arrived in the district in 1871 aged 7, passed his childhood in the district and later bought a property in the Wee Jasper
Wee Jasper is a village of about 80 people in the Goodradigbee valley at the western foot of the Brindabella Ranges, near Burrinjuck Dam in New South Wales, Australia in Yass Valley Shire. It is located 35 km north-west of Canberra and 54 km south-west of Yass.Wee Jasper Post Office was first...
area so that his children could experience country life. Poet and priest Patrick Hartigan
Monsignor Patrick Joseph Hartigan was an Australian Roman Catholic priest, educator, author and poet.-Biography:...
(pen name: John O'Brien) was born near Yass in 1878 and he studied at the local convent school as a youth.
Sir Walter Merriman established 'Merryville' one of the country's most famous sheep studs and arguably its leading fine-wool establishment in 1903. Yass is a prominent area for raising sheep which produce very fine wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....
due to the soil and climatic conditions of the Yass area.
Yass was one of the sites proposed for the Federal Capital after 1901.
Railways at Yass
Yass was later a battleground between the town and the Sydney to Melbourne railway
The Main Southern Railway is a major railway in New South Wales, Australia. It runs through the Southern Highlands, Southern Tablelands, South West Slopes and the Riverina regions.- Description of route :...
; because of the topography the New South Wales Government Railways
The New South Wales Government Railways was the government department that operated the New South Wales Government's railways until the establishment of the Public Transport Commission in 1972. Although later known officially as the Department of Railways, New South Wales, it was still generally...
wanted to bypass the town by a few kilometres. Naturally, the people of the town wished the railway to pass closer or through it. In 1892, a light railway or tram was built to connect Yass Junction on the main line and Yass Town. This line is now unused, although the Yass Railway Heritage Centre uses the Yass Town station precinct as a museum.
Yass had the nearest railway station on the Sydney Melbourne railway to serve the national capital at Canberra.
When the uniform gauge railway between Sydney and Melbourne opened in 1961, the parliamentarian deserving most of the credit - William Charles Wentworth
William Charles Wentworth AO , Australian politician, was a Liberal and later Independent member of the Australian House of Representatives from 1949 to 1977, with a reputation as a fierce anti-Communist.-Biography:...
- was unable to leave parliament since his vote was needed in an almost hung parliament
In a two-party parliamentary system of government, a hung parliament occurs when neither major political party has an absolute majority of seats in the parliament . It is also less commonly known as a balanced parliament or a legislature under no overall control...
. Instead of catching the inaugural train at Sydney, he had to catch it at Yass Junction, where it made a special stop.
Flour Milling at Yass
It has never been explained why Yass was the home to a number of flour mills, especially as the district is well-known for the production of fine merino fleece. Linge notes that many “flour mills” were set up for the personal convenience of settlers rather than commercial operations (Linge 1979:108) and it may be that the Mills were set up to grind locally produced grain for largely domestic consumption.
Bayley in his history of Yass records that, in March 1842 it was reported that the Yass Steam Mill was in operation (1973:24). This mill was located by the Yass River and was owned by the partnership of Hamilton Hume and John Watson. The mill was known as Watson’s Mill. This mill seems to have operated until it was destroyed in a flood in 1870. At that time it was owned by Thomas Andrew Barber (Ames et all 2001:9).
Barber was the son of the George Barber (who, with Hume, first explored Yass) and was also Hume’s nephew. These connections no doubt lead to the choice of the site of Barber’s next mill as the land was originally owned by Hume. Barber constructed a new steam mill and, by May 1870, steam was raised and the mill itself opened in June 1870 (Bayley 1973:46). According to Armes et al.
, the Barber family ‘occupied surviving housing on the corner of Comur and Adele Street” (2003:9). This mill, it is argued is the existing brick structure known as “Crago’s Flour Mill”. The mill was operated by Barber until 1876 when he handed over his business interests to his sons Earnest and John who traded under the name Barber Brothers.
Meanwhile another steam mill – the Union Steam Mill - had been established and, by 1881, was owned by Petherick Tamblyn Crago. In around 1881 Crago purchased a site for a new mill between the White Horse Inn and Barber’s Mill. The mill was called the Commercial Mill and from newspaper reports was operating from 1882. According to Ralph Crago (letter 1970) the decision to erect the new mill was because the machinery in the old Mill (presumably the Union Steam Mill) was worn out.
The Barbers declared bankruptcy in October, 1889 and in December, 1889, there was a meeting in Yass to discuss the mill. The meeting was told that the machinery was 50 years old , the foundations of the mill were 4½ feet deep and that a new mill would take 12 months to construct while the existing mill could be made operational in the New Year. The mill recommended trading in January 1891.
A notable event occurred in 1892 when Yass was finally connected to the NSW Government Railway. However, by the time the tramway reached the mills Barbers Mill was only operating intermittently. It is not clear from newspaper reports but it seems Barber tried to sell the mill in 1895 but was unsuccessful and eventually the mill was purchased from an Ann Ross by Arthur Bryant Triggs
Arthur Bryant Triggs was an Australian grazier and collector.-Family life:Triggs was born in Chelsea, London, the son of James Triggs, carpet agent, and his wife Celia Anne, née Bryant. His younger brother was Inigo Triggs, the English country house architect and garden designer and author...
, a prominent local businessman, in September, 1897. Triggs began rebuilding the old Barbers mill, presumably as a roller mill. He also arranged for a siding to be constructed from the Yass station across Lead Street to the mill. Triggs opened the “new” mill in March, 1898, but, later that year in August, sold the mill to Crago. This is the Mill now standing in Yass.
According to information from Ralph Crago (letters written in 1955 and 1970) “Around – once more it is only a guess- the turn of the century or early in the new one – the stones [in the Commercial Mill] were replaced by steel rollers by a firm called Henry Simon& Co & the steam power was replaced by suction gas made from charcoal. We bought a lot of our charcoal from the Jerrawa area when small farmers added to their income & trucked it by rail to Yass.” “The Crago Brothers were very proud of winning a bronze medal at the Wembly Exhibition in the early 1900’s for flour made at Yass”.
In the aerial photograph of the site of the two mills taken in 1927 the chimneys of both mills have been removed suggesting that their steam engines were non-operational from at least that time. However the Commercial Mill continued working until 1953. Ralph Crago who was manager from 1947 onwards noted that the Mill bought wheat locally but also from the surrounding district and harder wheat from the Gunnedah district was imported to blend with the softer “southern” wheats. All this wheat was bagged wheat but in the 1953 the Wheat Board decided to cease the use of bagged wheat faced with the cost of erecting bulk handling facilities the Crago family sold the Commercial Mill to the stock and station agents Winchombe Carson.
Winchombe Carson demolished the Commercial Mill in 1953 and erected a number of buildings on the site which were in turn demolished in July 2009 during which time remains of the Commercial Mill were excavated by an archaeological team.
A freezing works were established by Winchombe Carson at the site of Barber’s mill and numerous galvanised iron buildings were erected mainly to store bagged wheat for the Commercial Mill. After the Commercial Mill was demolished the Crago Mill (as Barber’s Mill is now known) was used for storage and remains the only surviving above ground remains of the four Flour Mills in Yass
St Augustine's Parish Yass
began in 1838 with the laying of the foundation stone of the church now called the Chapel.
A striking modernist new building (the 'big' church) was begun in 1954 under the eye of the then Bishop Young, later Archbishop of Hobart. The architect for the church was architects Fowell
Joseph Charles Fowell was a prominent Australian 20th century architect.-Biography:Born in Albany, Western Australia but educated in England, Joseph Fowell arrived back in Australia in 1919 where he worked with Professor Leslie Wilkinson at Sydney University. In 1926 Fowell became an assistant to...
Mansfield and Maclurcan of Sydney. The builder was James Wallace of 123 Sussex St Sydney.
There are important works of art by renowned Australian sculptor Tom Bass
Thomas Dwyer Bass AM, was a renowned Australian sculptor. Born in Lithgow, New South Wales on 6 June 1916, he studied at the Dattilo Rubbo Art School and the National Art School and established the Tom Bass Sculpture School in Sydney in 1974. In 1988 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia...
in the Church:
- the crucifix on the outside
- the crucifix on the rear doors
- the statue of St Paul and
- the recently installed low-relief of St Augustine near the front door.
The foundation stone of the new church was laid on 11 April 1954 by Archbishop Eris O'Brien and the church was opened on 29 April 1956, by Archbishop Guilford Young.
Fifty year celebrations were organised on 29 April 2006 by Father Laurie Bent.