Yackandandah

Yackandandah (including Allans Flat)
Fascinating historic gold mining town
Yackandandah is a rather special and very attractive historic village situated in a valley amidst a series of substantial hills. The streetscape is largely unchanged from its heyday as a goldmining town. Many of the buildings are genuinely historic and attractive: so much so that the entire commercial area has been classified by the National Trust. The fine main street is lined with shady English trees (some planted in the 19th century), verandahs, wide awnings, tea houses, galleries, shops selling crafts, gifts, antiques and collectables, a couple of country pubs and some gracious churches.

With a population of around 700 Yackandandah is located 288 km north-east of Melbourne via Beechworth and 28 km south-west of Wodonga. Fishing, goldpanning, gemstone fossicking, horseriding, bushwalking and four-wheel driving are all popular in the surrounding countryside.

One of the few rock art sites in north-eastern Victoria, 20 km south of Yackandandah, is testimony to at least 3500 years of Aboriginal occupation of this land. The meaning of the town's name is unclear although one theory suggests that it derives from two Aboriginal words meaning 'rock' and 'water-hole' as one large rock supposedly sat atop another in what is now known as Yackandandah Creek. However, it has also been claimed that Yackandandah means 'country of hills'.

Explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell passed nearby the present townsite in 1824. The first white settlers arrived in the area in 1837. James Osborne took up the Yackandandah No.1 station, Elizabeth Mitchell established the Yackandandah Lower run, and George Kinchington and his wife came overland from Sydney, crossed the Murray River and camped on Yackandandah Creek, near its junction with the Kiewa River (east of the townsite). They then established the Thirlingananga station. Osbornes Flat, 6 km east of Yackandandah, was named after the Osbornes.

The first gold was allegedly uncovered in 1845 when a water mill was being built on the Yackandandah run. If that is so, nothing came of it. However, gold was discovered at the confluence of Yackandandah Creek and Commissioners Creek in December 1852 and a rush got under way along the creekside in 1853 with the population increasing from 150 in 1853 to 3000 by 1862. A police camp was set up in 1853 overlooking Commissioners Creek. A lock-up, police residence, police station and courthouse were added in the ensuing decade.

Three hotels had been licensed by 1854 and by 1855 an Anglican school was in operation. There was a resident clergyman and the site had become a major staging post on the Melbourne to Sydney wagon track. The town was first surveyed in 1856 or 1857 and the shire proclaimed in 1864.

Many miners came from the goldfields of the Klondike and Sacramento in North America. The first prospectors tended to work individually or in small groups. They carted their own gear and worked by hand. Deep mining got under way in the late 1850s when the 61 Twist Creek and Homeward Bound reefs were discovered in the hills. In the 1860s about 350 kg of gold were extracted. The 1870s saw the introduction of hydraulic sluicing then bucket dredges were utilised from the 1880s until the early 20th century. The old minesites retained enough material to allow some people to eke out a living during the Great Depression.

Wine production got under way in the 1890s although the vineyards were soon destroyed by phylloxera. The railway arrived in 1891. Sand had to be placed on the steep track from Beechworth to prevent slippage during frosty weather. The line closed in 1955.

Australia's first homegrown governor-general, Sir Isaac Isaacs, was born at Yackandandah in 1855. A more notorious early resident of the region was bushranger Dan 'Mad Dog' Morgan who, in 1860, was released from prison on a ticket-of-leave to the Yackandandah and Ovens districts. He had just completed six years of a twelve-year sentence for armed robbery (the first two served in chains). Morgan was meant to report regularly to local police as a condition of his early release but failed to do so and was soon posted as illegally at large, whereupon he moved on to the King and upper Ovens River district, embarking on a series of highway robberies that would end with murder and his own death.

Things to see:

Tourist Information
The local information centre is located in the old Athenaeum (an institution for the promotion of scientific or literary learning which often takes the form of a library and reading room). The Classical Revival building was erected in 1878 with a strong Classical facade, pediment and columns. It was once the social and intellectual centre of the town, housing 3000 books and two reading rooms.

The information centre is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily excluding Christmas Day and Good Friday. Website http://www.uniqueyackandandah.com.au  tel: (02) 6027 1988. Fishing, goldpanning, gemstone fossicking, horseriding, bushwalking and four-wheel driving are all popular in the surrounding countryside.

Museum
On the same side of the road as the Athenaeum, a little further east, is the stone Bank of Victoria building (1860) which now houses the Yackandandah and District Historical Society. It consists of the bank and the manager's residence (1850s). Banking ceased in 1893. The museum is only open on Sunday afternoons and every day in the Victorian school holidays. They also conduct searches through local records but, if you are interested in this service, it is advisable to give advance notice of your intention to visit. The contact address is 21 High St, Yackandandah, tel: (02) 6027 1320.

High St Walk
The Athenaeum and Bank of Victoria are fine examples of the town's excellent streetscape. In fact, the entire commercial area of Yackandandah has been classified by the National Trust. Many buildings retain their original shopfronts and verandahs and efforts have been made to restore them to their original colours.

Walk west along High St to Wellsford St. On the north-eastern corner is the post office. The original post office (Yackandandah's first public building) was a timber structure. Half of the present building dates from 1863. Additions were made in 1887. Adjacent is the former State Bank, a Classical building dating from 1929.

Cross over Wellsford St to the primary school which was erected in 1862 and added to in 1872 and 1891. Note the decorative brickwork. Prior to 1862 this land was occupied by an Anglican church and the town's first (Anglican) school. Over the road is a 19th-century public hall and an office of the Indigo Shire Council.

Turn the corner, heading south along Wellsford St a short distance. To the right is the former Methodist (now Lutheran) church (1870).

Return along Wellsford St and turn right, heading east along High St. To the immediate right are the Memorial Gardens which have a timber pavilion, trim lawns and tall palm trees. Next door is the Star Hotel (1863) and adjacent that is Memory Lane, a bric-a-brac shop located in the former Dean's Store, built 1864-65 of local brick. Note the intact shop front, lamb's tongue window mouldings and arched windows.

Beside Memory Lane, at 26 High St, is Sticky Tarts, a restaurant. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6027 1853. The business is housed in a building constructed of hand-made bricks on a granite foundation in 1875.

Continue east along High St past the newsagency and the bakery which features an old-style wood-fired oven. Further east along High St, to the right, is the former Bank of Australasia building (1878). The bank purchased the site from one of the town's first storekeepers. Over the road is an older stone building which the bank used as its premises from 1857.

On the north-western corner of High St and Williams St is the Yackandandah Hotel (1879). Cross over Williams St and the main road becomes Isaacs Ave, named after Sir Isaac Isaacs, a local boy who became Australia's first homegrown governor-general.

On the north-eastern corner of Williams St and Isaacs Ave is one of the town's first brick residences (c.1866). It is alleged that Isaacs lived in this house. Today it houses a curios and collectables shop which is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, tel: (02) 6027 1727.

Over the road, at 2 Isaacs Ave, is Stonebridge Cottage Studio which sells oils, watercolours, pottery, sculpture and screen prints. It is open most days from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6027 1317.

A little further along Isaacs Ave is a fine old stone bridge across Commissioners Creek which was built in 1859-60 as part of the Melbourne to Sydney Road. Further south along Commissioners Creek (at the intersection with Yackandandah Creek) is the site where gold was discovered in 1852, sparking the local goldrush.

Town Walk Extension
If you wish to continue the walk, proceed along Isaacs Ave and turn right into Church St. Along here, to the left, are the Anglican Church (1861) and rectory (1867).

Return along Church St, turn left into Isaacs Ave then right into Williams St. Past Hammond St, to the right, is the Classical Revival courthouse (1864) with its brick loggia and detailed gable. The town's original police camp was established on this site in 1853.

Return a short distance along Williams St and turn right into Hammond St. After one block cross over Wellsford St and continue along Hammond St. To the right is the Uniting Church (1867-68). Further west, at the corner of Hammond St and Kars St, is an old winery built in the 1860s by a Doctor Augustus Mueller who gained local notoriety when he claimed to have created an antidote for snake bites.

Turn left into Kars St. To the right is Melville House, built c.1863 by Mueller. Turn left into High St and return to the start of the walk.

The Gorge
Drive out to the western end of Windham St until it reaches a T-intersection with Bells Flat Rd. Turn left into the latter and it is about 1 km to 'The Gorge'. There is a signpost and carpark with information signs at the start of the walk. A tail race was constructed here in 1859. It was deepened in the 1880s to form a narrow gorge which diverted Yackandandah Creek from its natural course. This allowed miners to access the gold along the original creek bed. The walk passes through an area that was extensively mined and takes in two diversion walls. It leads through to the sports oval at the end of Wellsford St.

Forest Drive
If you continue to follow Bells Flat Road south-west beyond The Gorge it leads through Stanley State Forest where the disturbed ground adjacent the roads indicates the area's goldmining past. Today the forest is used both for logging and army training so watch for other vehicles. There is a variety of vegetation and hence a range of wildlife, though many species are nocturnal. There are swamp wallabies, lizards, possums, gliders, echidnae, wombats, bandicoots, marsupial mice, rosellas, willy-wagtails, honeyeaters and many other birds.

About 2 km beyond The Gorge keep to the right when Bells Flat Road veers off to the left and you will find yourself on the Yack Gate Road. A little over 1 km from this intersection is a turnoff on the left to a picnic area. If you ignore this turnoff and continue along Yack Gate Road for about two more kilometres it passes a couple of roadside (and creekside) campsites then veers off to the right at an intersection where the No.1 Link Road veers to the left. There is a campsite at this intersection. Proceed along the No.1 Link Rd. After about 500 m there is a turnoff on the right to another campsite. If you ignore this turnoff and continue along the No.1 Link Rd you will almost immediately come to a turnoff on the left into Number One Road. It leads past another couple of roadside campsites. After about 4 km turn left into Kirbys Flat Road (watch out for Kirbys Flat Pottery). At its end turn left into Back Creek Rd which will return you to town. A number of 4WD tracks head off the main roads. Watch out for old tunnels and mine shafts if you go bushwalking. For further information contact the Department of Natural Resources and Environment on (03) 5728 1501.

Kirbys Flat Pottery
Kirbys Flat Pottery is the long-established workshop of John Dermer, a craftsman of high repute who has items displayed in the Australian National Gallery and Parliament House. It is open weekends and all Victorian school holidays or by appointment and is located 4 km south of Yackandandah on Kirbys Flat Road (follow the gallery or pottery signs), tel: (02) 6027 1416.

The Lavender Patch Plant Farm
The Lavender Patch Plant Farm is set in peaceful picturesque surrounds 3 km from Yackandandah on the road to Beechworth. It is a commercial lavender farm offering guided tours, a nursery, display gardens, lawns, lavender fields, picnic areas with barbecues, parking facilities, tearooms and a gift shop selling crafts, cosmetics, 22 types of lavender and over 100 perennials. They are open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., tel: (02) 6027 1603.

Yackandandah Cemetery
The Yackandandah Cemetery is located a short distance north-east of town along the Wodonga Rd. The cemetery was established in 1859 and contains the graves of gold miners and other early settlers, including an area reserved for Chinese interments (up the hill and to the right from the fine timber entrance gates which were added in 1915). The Lawson Cypress, Canary Island Strawberry Tree and Irish Strawberry Tree are registered with the National Trust.

Schmidt's Strawberry Winery
From the eastern end of High St follow the Wodonga Road north-east for 9 km then take the signposted right into Osbornes Flat Road. About 2 km along here is Schmidt's Strawberry Winery Farm, established in 1975 by Johann Schmidt whose family has been making fruit wines since the 15th century. There are dry, sweet and semi-sweet strawberry wines, a strawberry liqueur and, in season (November to February), fresh strawberries. The winery is open every day from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. During the Victorian school holidays and on long weekends it also opens on Sundays, tel: (02) 6027 1454.

Allans Flat and the Vienna Patisserie Chalet
Adjacent Schmidt's is an enormous hole created by hydraulic gold dredging which has been converted into a lake and public reserve with grassed areas, picnic tables, chairs and wood barbecues. A cairn at the entrance to the reserve on the southern side of the lake commemorates the occasion in 1845 when David Reid became the first white person to take up land in the area. Goldmining occurred in the area from the 1850s to 1904. At one stage the local school had 200 children. Agriculture developed to feed the community and remained when the gold inevitably dwindled. Today Allans Flat is a locality rather than a village.

Memorial Drive heads west off Osbornes Flat Road past a church and a cairn on the left-hand side of the road which honours Hume and Hovell who were the first non-Aboriginal people to pass through this area in 1824. Return along Memorial Drive and turn left back into Osbornes Flat Road.

500 metres from the lake, in Osbornes Flat Road, is the Vienna Patisserie Chalet, situated within a hand-made Austrian-style log cabin adjacent the Kiewa River. Pastries, cakes, strudels, tortes and ice-cream sundaes with fresh fruits and berries are available every day but Tuesday from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6027 1477.

Continue along Osbornes Flat Road to Osbornes Flat which emerged in the 1850s as a gold town with five hotels, several stores, a school, various tradesmen and a lodging house. Little remains of the village though the disturbed ground indicates the scars of goldmining. Further along Osbornes Flat Rd is the site of Rowdy Flat, another goldmining village in an area which proved to be rich with alluvial gold. When you reach Dederang Road turn right to return to Yackandandah. The round trip is about 21 km.

Star Hotel
High St
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 1493

Yackandandah Hotel
High St
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 1210

Crystal Creek Yackandandah
Richardson's Race Rd
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 0686
Facsimile: (02) 6027 0686

Serendipity Bed & Breakfast
9 Windham St
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 1881
Rating: ****

Creek Haven Cottage
RMB 3180 Orbornes Flat Rd
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 1389
Rating: ****

Crystal Creek Yackandandah
Richardson's Race Rd
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 0686
Facsimile: (02) 6027 0686

Yackandandah Holiday Park
Dederang Rd
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 1380
Rating: **

Sticky Tarts Cafe
High St
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 1853

Yackandandah Hotel
High St
Yackandandah VIC 3749
Telephone: (02) 6027 1210

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