Yass to Hay
So it's up bright and early and our first day or re-packing up the car, so it takes us forever. We finally check out 10am. The Colonial Lodge staff were great, the rooms clean and tastefully decorated but Kelly found it a bit noisy being so near the road with lots of trucks rumbling by and a very noisy compressor, perhaps on the in-room fridge, going all night. I slept fine :-)
After checking out we drove down to the main shopping area and headed to Post Office to send package I'd forgot to deliver yesterday. Yass is lovely to wander around with lots of old buildings. After the Post Office visit we came upon an old trash and treasure place that had a couple of repro signs that pretty much sum up the sins of most people.
We continued down toward the Yass river and what they call River Walk. We’d noticed the old railway bridge down the river as we drove in last night and were interested to take a closer look. On the way down to the river there is a road bridge spanning the river and parts of the abutment are decorated with Indigenous Art. The art is quite extensive and it’s very unusual to see it presented in this way.
It seems that Eric Bell, is a Yass Aboriginal elder, was instrumental in facilitating the Indigenous Art murals on the abutments to the Hume Bridge in Yass, and is a driving force behind the planned "Interpretive Walk" on the banks of the Yass River through the Riverbank Park.
The river and the park itself is beautifully tended and the river winds under the bridge down to a small weir.
Downriver from the weir is the old railway bridge. Yass was a battleground between the town and the Sydney to Melbourne railway; because of the topography the New South Wales Government Railways wanted to bypass the town by a few kilometers. 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 and the railway bridge is one of the few reminders left.
From the river we walked back up the main street to a small cafe for breakfast and a much needed coffee. On the way we passed by the Yass Courthouse and imposing building right on the main street.
The current court house replaced an earlier one built in 1837. The last link with the convict past of Yass, the flogging tree, was removed in 1878 to make way for this new building. It was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet and built by Frederick Horn of Goulburn, at a cost of over £15,000. it was opened in January 1880.
Opposite the Court House there is a beautiful old double story Georgian Building with a large balcony, that dates from 1840 - 1860. It is now part of the National Trust listing and has in it’s past served as both Courier Office and Yass Post Office.
There were a couple of other spots we wanted to see before we left Yass so we did a bit of a drive around the town, getting stuck behind some of the Yass traffic for a while.
i’d read about a striking modernist building (the 'big' church) that was begun in 1954 under the direction of the then Bishop Young, later Archbishop of Hobart. The architect for the church was architects Fowell 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 in the Church including the crucifix on the outside of the building.
Opposite the church is an old convent that has some beautiful buildings with a combination of blue stone and other stones. Kelly took this shot of one of the convent walls.
Yass has an impressive and historic main street, with well-preserved 19th century verandah post pubs. One of the old pubs, the Commercial Hotel, currently up for sale and in pretty bad shape at the moment has an impressive old neon sign on its roof.
I’d noticed an old local watching us as we were shooting pictures of the sign and as we walked back to the car I said hi, and said that I’d buy the sign, but not the hotel. He told me that he remembered when he was a kid that it was one of the highlights of the street and a string of lights made it look like champagne was being poured into the glass.
Our final stop in Yass was the Railway Museum, which unfortunately was closed but I did get a couple of shots of the stock in the yard behind the old station including the fully restored 4-4-2 steam locomotive 1307.
The 4-4-2 steam locomotive 1307 was built in 1877 by Beyer, Peacock and Co. of Manchester, England, as an engine with a coal and water tender, to handle general haulage work.In 1910, the locomotive went to Yass, the first 13 class engine to operate on the Yass Tramway which ran between Yass Junction station on the main southern line and Yass township. Check out the “small” picture of the 1307 before restoration.
By now it’s early afternoon and we still have quite a trip to go, 454km to reach Hay and we'd like to be there by early evening. Rather than take the main National Highway we are going to go via Burley Griffin Way, this will take us through the towns of Murrunburrah and Cootamundra down through Junee and across the plains to Narrandera and then Hay.
Murrunburrah is a small town, with a population of about 952 people. The name of the town probably comes from Wiradhuri murrimboola, which can reasonably be translated to "two waterholes". It forms a twin town with Harden.
It’s main street has some interesting buildings so we pull over and stroll along the main street. There is one building in particular that I like, it’s the Murrunburrah Mechanics Institute Hall. Built in 1912 it stands imposingly amongst it’s surroundings.
Opposite the hall Kelly has found a fantastic old mill, with a mix of tin and stone buildings up for lease.
Next on our list is Cootamundra which just happens to be the birthplace of Australia’s greatest cricketer Don Bradman. Neither of us are great fans of the game but it would be amiss of us to not even stop outside and pay our respects.
From Cootamundra it’s a fair drive across to Hay and we arrive there in the early evening. It’s still light and it’s turned into a hot day with temperatures up around 34C. We find our accommodations for the night, the Saltbush Motor Inn.
Once we’ve checking in and dumped the bags from the car we grab the esky and some sandwiches we’d bought in Yass and head for the a small picnic spot on the Murrumbidgee River called Bushy Bend Reserve only 5 minutes from the motel.
You head off the main road into a dirt road in the bush and a few minutes later come out into one of several clearings right by the river with covered tables where you can sit and drink a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
At the spot we decided on there was a large stainless steel sculpture, one of three in the reserve, part of the Long Paddock Sculptural Trail. This particular sculpture is by John Wooler and is called “Murrumbidgee Landscapes. It depicts the meandering rivers in the Shire of Hay, the major ones being the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan. Over millenia the irregular, unpredictable forces of nature caused the rivers to change course leaving behind billabongs and pools where once they flowed across the flat, sandy plain.