Countryside Rambles and Unexpected Gifts: Discovering Yass

A Saturday morning with nothing to do…the sky is a washy grey crayoned over in shades of apricot –a blurred at the edges Autumn day.   A perfect day for a ramble into the countryside.  How lucky we are to live in a city surrounded by roads which take us quickly to country towns. Our plan is to visit Yass. It is strange that after more than three decades of living in Canberra we have never really ventured into this historic community.

So we roll out of our  modern ordered  city along roads lined with ochre paddocks and trees blazing with colour through the little village of Murrumbateman, with its very worthy wineries, and  find ourselves in the Yass valley.

The heart of Yass is simply charming. Stately  Victorian buildings traditional country pubs, art deco shop fronts, pretty cottages and graceful churches jostle for space on landscaped streets.  Pale sunshine lights up  autumn branches, the last flowers of summer poke through fence railings and people spill out of the Farmers’ Market and sip coffee at outdoor tables.

I love the heavy painted doors from another era, the elegant public benches, white picket fences and gracious lacework balconies.  The fact that this town has a Literary Institute which sits next to the Soldiers Memorial Hall fills me with inexplicable joy. We need more Literary Institutes!

Next to Riverbank Park is Cobblestone Cottage (built in 1840) – it lifts my heart just to look at this pretty butter yellow building which was once a store and post office.  A little way up is the rather splendid Yass Courthouse (built in 1880). We wander around the streets dipping ourselves into another time and place. It is hard to believe that we are less than an hour away from Canberra.

Yass is a town that is proud of its history and exhibits it with aplomb. Buildings are adorned with neat blue oval plaques telling their stories. When I come home I do a bit of research and find out a lot more about the history of Yass which begins with the stories of the Wallabalo, Pajong and Kamberri clans of the Ngunnawal people.  I will go back and do a proper historic walk around Yass but I am glad that I did not do this research before visiting the town because there is a special sort of happiness that comes from being surprised by the whimsy and history of a different place. Yass was an unexpected gift on a ramble into the countryside…

© Anita Patel, 2016

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