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Activities and News


Heads down doing the quiz at Talks with a Fork. [YDHS Inc]

The society meets at the Yass Soldiers Club on the first Monday of each month - February to December (except October) at the Yass Soldiers' Club at 2.00pm.
Why not join us for lunch in the bistro at 12.30pm to catch up with other members.

Members are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities related to the work of the society.
Occasional working bees are held at the museum and volunteers are often sought to assist with short term projects in both the museum and archives.

Yandoo newsletter

Our monthly newsletter 'Yandoo' is circulated to all members to keep them informed of the latest news, activities and the work of the archives and museum.


Elizabeth Burness - Two decades of collecting clothing and textiles

Our textile exhibition will close on Monday 10th of the June long weekend so there are only three weeks to see examples of exquisite needlework and childrens clothing - some dating back two centuries.
The clothing featured covers clothing and some toys spanning the period 1820 to 1960.

Collector Elizabeth Burtness will be giving a talk on her experiences of collecting clothing and textiles in the Museum on Saturday 1 June at 2pm.
It promises to be both enlightening and entertaining as Elizabeth reveals some of the stories behind the garments that she has collected. A delicious afternoon tea will be served.

Bookings are essential - please phone 6226 1334 or 6226 1504.

Free Admission to the Museum!

Admission to our museum is free until it closes on the Monday of the June long weekend. 'Threads of the Past' will remain on display during that time and it is a great opportunity to see some stunning examples of needlework and children's clothing,
some dating back two hundred years.

Children will find the clothing and the toys displayed quite a contrast to how they dress and play today.

Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive 2019 - registrations are now open!

Details of our third Whole Histories Conference at St Clement's Galong from Fri 10 to Sun 12 May 2019 are finalised and the program has been circulated to the wider history community.

It promises to be another fantastic weekend with another great lineup of speakers including local Keynote speaker Jeff Brown, Surveyor-General of the ACT, who will give a presenttaion on the important role of maps and survey plans in local and family history. Another keynote address on local history resources will be given by Kevin Bradley, Assistant Drector General of the National Library of Australia. In total there will be sixteen speakers and musicians who will enlighten the participants about music, archives, pubs, sport, publishing, lodge records, children's literature, schools, family history, popularising local history, magic lantern slides and even teddy bears and jam making. There is something for everyone!

Saturday night we will gather for an entertainment before pre-dinner drinks and our conference highlight, a three couse dinner in Galong House. Dr Mathew Trinca of the National Museum of Australia will be our speaker at the dinner. See the full details here.

Exploring our Archives

Ever wondered what our archives contain? If you are the curious kind why not come along to the Yass Public Library on Saturday 2 March at 10.15am for a half hour overview of the archival holdings that are housed upstairs in the Soldiers' Memorial Hall.
You will be surprised by what can be found in our collection. Documents, photographs, maps, books, microfilm and much more make up an ever expanding collection of material that can be used to interpret our community and possibly your family. You never kjnow until you look!.

Why not take a break from the bustle of the markets to see what the archives are all about. It is helpful to know if you are joining us so please contact the library or phone 6226 1305 to book or turn up on the day, We look forward to seeing you there.

Free February - it is on again!

Admission to our museum is free until the end of February !

We encourage locals ands visitors to call atthe museum to experience numerous aspects of our local history.
The museum is run entirely by volunteers so while there is no admission during February we do appreciate your donations which enable us to cover the running costs.

Our most recent exhibition Threads of the Past has some stunning examples of children's clothing from the local area as well as England, France and the USA.
This exhibition closes on the June long weekend and we all know that it will be upon us before too long - so make an effort in February and see it free!.

One Hundred Years On: How we remember those who served

A century after the guns of the Great War fell silent the Society will present the fourth and final seminar in a series that related the experiences of locals on the battlefields and at home.

Twenty five years ago the return of the remains of an unknown Wortld War One Australian soldier from the battlefields of the Western Front was a defining event in how Australians now commemorate their war dead.

Dr Richard Reid, a life member of the Society was the Australian War Memorial's Executive Officer for the project which returned and entombed the remains in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial on Remembrance Day 1993, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Armistice. He will speak about the event and its significance to Australians.

What happened to veterans upon their return to Australia and how they merged back into the community will be the focus of Professor Jeff Brownrigg's presentation. Did they return to their 'old' lives or begin creatring new roles for themselves in a changing world?

Locally, Cheryl Mongan, President of the Society will speak about commemoration here in Yass and how it changed over the years, as interest and commitment varied with families and organisations.

Members and the public are cordially invited to attend this free seminar but bookings are essential. Afternoon tea will be provided so a gold coin donation would be appreciated. Bookings can be made by email yassarchives@gmail.com or telephone Anne Pigram 6226 1504 or Susan O'Leary 6226 2115 by Thursday 8 November.

Threads of the Past

An exciting new exhibition opened on Saturday 20 October featuring a selection of children's clothing and toys spanning the period 1820 to 1960.

Rare items include an American Regency baptismal gown dating from 1820 and several items from the famed Castle Howard Collection, such as a 'Little Red Ridding Hood' cloak from 1860s rural Warwickshire and an entirely hand sewn Victorian dress of glazed cotton.There are a selection of toys that children of today will probably find rather surtprising.

The museum is open weekends and public holidays 10am to 4pm with free admission. However as we are a volunteer run museum we greatly appreciate your donations.

Exciting Writing: bringing the words to life

There are still some vacancies for our writing workshop at St Clement's, Galong from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 November, when Dr Rosalie Triolo from Monash University will facilitate the program.

Dr Triolo is an experienced writer who will guide the participants through a series of sessions designed to make them a better writer. She lectures in History education and history of Australian education and is currently President of the History Teachers' Association of Victoria, a Life Member and Vice President of the History Teachers' Association of Australia and a councillor of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Her publications include scholarly works, teacher professional learning materials and student resources in diverse forms. She is a frequent presenter at conferences, speaking on Australian history, particularly Auistralian experiences of the Great War to local, national and international audiences, and has received numerous Victorian and national history and education awards.

With her expertise available to participants it is an opportunity not to be missed.

For further information on the weekend see the event page - here

And the winner is...

At our Whole Histories conference dinner at St Clement's, Galong on Saturday 3 March the winning ricket in our Yass Experience Raffle was drawn by after dinner speaker Genevieve Jacobs. The lucky winner had purchased the winning ticket No 0002 at the End of Year Gathering at Cliftonwood last December. The winner was member Rachel Purdy. Congratulations and we hope you enjoy fantastic prize of two nights accommodation at the Globe Inn and dinner at Clementine restaurant.

Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive - vacancies still available!

With just a month to go there are still places available for our conference at St Clement's, Galong from Fri 2 to Sun 4 March.

Last year's conference was a great success with lots to learn and enjoy in the company of other history enthusiasts. The weekend is held at one of southern New South Wales oldest heritage sites with excellent accommodation, fantastic country hospitality, a candleit dinner in historic Galong House and much more.See the fill details here.

Free February!

Throughout February admission to our museum is free!

We encourage locals ands visitors to our town to visit the museum and experience aspects of our local history. The museum is run entirely by volunteers so while there is no admission during February we do appreciate your donations which enable us to cover the running costs.

Access to our archival collection is also free on Saturday 3 February. Researchers are invited to visit between 10am and 4pm to check out what our collection contains and how it may help them with their family history reserach. The usual session fee of $30.00 has been waived for the day.

Please take the opportunity to visit us during February - you never know what you might learn!

Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive - registrations are now open

Bookings have started to arrive for our conference at St Clement's Galong from Fri 2 to Sun 4 March 2018 - just 10 weeks away so register soon to ensure your favoured accommodation.

It promises to be another fantastic weekend with another great lineup of speakers including Dr Ann Herraman of Adelaide, Prof Mark McKenna of the University of Sydney and Dr Mathew Trinca of the National Museum of Australia. Well known radio personality Genevieve Jacobs will be our speaker at the dinner in Galong House. See the full details here.

New publications

We have added two new publications to our diverse collection of local history publications. Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive are the papers given at our conference last April and Early Days of Yass: Mary Yeo JP, Yass Historian edited by Peter Bindon and Tony MacQuillan gives an early twentieth century account of Yass's history. See our publications page for further information http://www.yasshistory.org.au/public.htm.

New life members

We were privileged to award Life Membership to four of our members who have contributed to the aims and work of the Society over the past two decades. The presentation of their certificates was made at our End of Year Gathering held at Cliftonwood on Saturday 2 December.

Heritage Walk - Classic Yass weekend - Saturday 4th November at 2pm

Have you ever read the blue plaques on the older buildings in Comur Street or wondered what the stories are behind the buildings?

The Royal Hotel as it was in the beginning. (YDHS Inc Collection).

Pip Giovanelli, heritage advisor to Yass Valley Council will lead a walk along Comur, Crago and Dutton Streets on Saturday 4 November. This is a great opportunity to join in and learn something of our built environment. The starting point is near Cobblestone Cottage in Riverbank Park and will take around two hours.

Bookings are not neccesary - just turn up with comfortable walking shoes, a hat and your choice of refreshment.

Belgium 1917: Yass and the Western Front - Saturday 14 October 2017

The society will present the third in a series of four talks that focuses on the Yass district's involvement in World War One on Saturday 14 October.

In 1917 Australians were into the third year of the war and the numbers of casualties continued to rise at an alarming rate. Amongst them were numbers of men from the Yass district. To coincide with the Centenary of the Battle of Paschendaele we will present a seminar that focuses on how the war could be viewed from a local perspective. The venue is St Clement's Anglican Church where several of those who served and died are commemorated.

Three papers will be delivered in the church and St Clement's Hall where we will be served afternoon tea. Dr Richard Reid's presentation on 'Brave Little Belgium: Australians and Belgium, 1914-1929' will look at involvement of Australians on the Belgian battlefields while, Dr Jeff Brownrigg will speak about 'Singing for Relief' and the part played by prominent Australian singers in the war effort. President Cheryl Mongan's presentation will relate to the 'News from Belgium' and how the local community reacted to it during the war and beyond.

The seminar will be held in St Clement's Anglican Church and Church Hall commencing at 2pm.

Bookings and enquiries to Cheryl Mongan on 6226 1435, Maureen Collins 62262315 and Anne Pigram 6226 1504. Members $15.00, Non-members $17.00 and includes our usual delicious afternoon tea.

Annual General Meeting - Monday 9th October at 2pm

You realise how time flies when the Annual General Meeting is due again - this time on the second Monday in October due to the long weekend holiday.

The other 'Cooma Cottage' in Comur Street, one of the images from 'A Slide Down Comur Street'. (YDHS Inc Collection)

Our late Life member Russ Whitehurst amassed an amazing photographic collections of Yass in days gone by and we would like to share some of them in 'A Slide Down Comur Street'.

We warmly encourage all our members to attend our meetings with opportunities to catch up for lunch before the meeting or coffee after.

Museum guides morning tea - Friday 29 September

We warmly encourage all our museum guides and prospective voplunteers to a morning tea on Friday 29 Sept at 10am. It will be an opportunity to catch up over a cuppa afyter the winter break and to refresh the proceedures for opening the museum. Volunteers to keep the garden in check and watered over summer will be especially welcome.

Museum Working Bee - Wednesday 13 September 11am to 1pm

We can really do with some help to get the museum ready for our first group visit on Friday 15 September and the reopening on the long weekend.
Please contact Bill Pigram on 0423 760 855 if you can assist

September meeting - Monday 4th at 2pm

Our next meeting will have a different focus with members being invited to bring along items from their own collections for a 'show and tell'.

This is an opportunity to share some of your familyvtreasures and tell us something of their history. Whether you know a lot or very little there may well be someone who can shed some light on it for you. It would be helpful if you could email us on yassarchives@gmail.com or telephone 0413 312 081 if you are going to bring an object to the meeting.

Please join us for lunch in the Bistro at the Soldiers Club before our meeting at 2pm.

August meeting - Monday 7th at 2pm

Our guest speaker will be one of our younger members Aimee Mitchell who will talk about her research on the life of the infamous convict Alexander Pearce who escaped not once but twice from Marcquarie Harbour Penal Station.

Her presentation will include a brief introduction on her area of interest, in particular Australian and convict history, and overview of the convict transportation system before expanding on Pearce's life and crimes after his arrival in Van Diemen Land. Aimee, who is studying for a Batchelor of Arts majoring in history at the University of New England suggests that Pearce became a product of the transporartion system due to ist regime of severe punishment.

Why not join us for lunch in the Bistro at the Soldiers Club before our meeting at 2pm.

An Afternoon with the Patersons - Saturday 5th August at 2pm

Award winning author Dr Jennifer Gall will give a talk on her latest publication 'Looking for Rose Patterson:How family life nurtured Banjo the Poet' on Saturday 5 August at the Uniting Church Hall, Cliff Steet, Yass. Those of you who have seen the book will know what a fantastic publication she has produced. It is not often that such a richly illustrated local history book comes along.

The content gives an insight into the life of the poet's mother, her family and in some measure Banjo himself. Rose Peterson's life was not easy - living in isolation, giving birth tio a succession of children and copying with the drudgery of endless housework and limited financiual resources. A tremendously readable and attractive publication it might just earn Dr Gall another Barbara Ramsden Award. Her biography 'In Bligh's Hand: Surving the Mutiny on the Bounty' was joint winner with the book's editor Joanna Karmel in 2011. A talented musician Jennifer will also play music that Rose Paterson would have been familiar with to conclude her talk. Rose's son Banjo will also make an appearance through a selection of his verse when Dr Jeff Brownrigg will give a lively rendition of Paterson's verse.

Copies of the book will be available for sale and there will be a delicous afternoon tea to follow. It is expected that this evenbt will attract a wide audience so we ask that yiu book early. Admission is $10 for members and $12 for guests, Booking and enquiries to Maureen Collins 6226 1334 and Anne Pigram 6226 4894 by 31 July.

July meeting - Monday 3rd at 2pm

Member Helen Murphy will be our guest speaker at the July meeting when she will talk about the voyage of the ill-fated Lady Macnaghten to New South Wales.

It is a story of brave folk who chose to leave Britain pre-famine Ireland in search of a new beginning in a new country. It is the journey that Helen's three times great grandparents and nine of their eleven children took in 1837.Helen will cover the schemes devised to bring assisted migrants to Australia as well as the selection of the emigrants from Ireland, England and Scotland in 1836. She will also talk about the diseases on board the ship that caused so many deaths and the beginnings of the Quarantine Station on North Head.

Join us for lunch in the Soldiers Club Bistro at 12.30 before our 2pm meeting.

Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive - it's on again!

We were extremely pleased with the positive response to our conference - so much so that we will do it all again next year.

Mark Friday 2 to Sunday 4 March in your diary as the time to meet at Galong for Whole Histories - part two. It is anticipated that we will release full details of the conference in September so keep an eye out for the benefits of early registration.

If you want to see what happened at our conference in April see Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive.

June meeting - Monday 5th at 2pm

Our guest speaker in June will be member Dr Aedeen Cremin who will speak on The Truth, the whole truth, or just a DNA test?, a presentation about the current research on DNA and its use (and misuse) on historical reserach. It will be of particular interest to anyone who've had their DNA tested or are thinking about it. Dr Cremin is a historian and archaeologist who has studied in Itreland, France and Australia and taught European archaeology in Sydney and Canberra universities. She is currently working on the University of Sydney's Greater Angkor Project in Cambodia.

May meeting - Monday 1st at 2pm

All rounder Peter Bindon a former Presidenat and Vice President of the Society will be the guest speaker at our May meeting. His presentation 'On our seleetion' will relate the experiences of those who arrived in 'the land of milk and honey' eager to obtain land and make new lives for themselves and their families. Peter will tell us of the things that they could not have imagined they would encounter. Some would overcome difficulties, others did not. Come and join us at 2.00pm on Monday 1 May.

Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive

We are extremely grateful to know that those who have supported our Galong weekends in the past are returning for our Whole Histories conference from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 April at St Clement's at Galong. There are now close to one hundred participants from all over the state as well as Victoria and even South Australia.

A late addition to our Saturday program is The War on Entropy: Strategies for preserving photographic collections, a presentation by James Walters of Vivid Recollection. James specialises and performs miracles in the restoration of old, aging and damaged images, bringing new life to photographs that were once irretrievable. His presentation will focus on the history of photography, how to preserve photographs, digitisation and the printing of images. This is a subject not just of interest to historical societies and archives with large photographic collections but also to family historians or anyone with photographs that they care for.

With a little over two weeks to go and very few rooms remaining it would be wise to contact us very soon if you would like to attend this unique event.
For further details of the weekend, the outstanding program and venue information see Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive.

April meeting - Monday 3rd at 2pm

Our guest speaker in April will be Society President Cheryl Mongan who will speak about an often travelled local road that earned a reputation for being a dangerous place.She will share some of the stories that abound about the Great South Road in her presentation 'On the Road to Gundagai: Fact, myth and legend' at the Soldiers Club, Monday 3 April at 2pm.

March meeting - Monday 6th at 2pm

Our Vice President and experienced local family historian Diana MacQuillan will share some of her hints and tips for researching your family history on Monday 6 March in her presentation Family Myths and Legends when she will focus on stories that were handed down through the generations of her own family.

Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive


After a break of four years we will return to St Clement's at Galong to host a gathering of importance to museums, archives, local and family history groups and anyone with an interest in Australian history. With a program that will inspire and challenge our ideas of how, when and why we do what we do, we encourage all groups to become involved in the ongoing conversation of keeping our history prominently within the public gaze.

What are your strategies for keeping your local or family history groups alive and thriving in a rapidly changing world? Your society should be represented in these discussions whether it is to share your plans, tell us of your successes and even to share the difficulties that all groups experience from time to time.

We have assembled an incredible group of speakers for the weekend. Our Keynote speaker is Dr Mathew Trinca, Director of the National Museum of Australia. He and Dr Carol Liston, President of the Royal Australian Historical Society lead a group of sixteen speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds and discipilines.

It is a value packed weekend with all presentations, accommodation, meals, dinner refreshments (Sat night) and entertainment at a very modest price.

For further details see details of the weekend, the outstanding program and venue information see Whole Histories: keeping the stories alive.

We are now on Facebook

As of yesterday we are on Facebook and ready to bring you the latest news of the society and items of interest several times a week.
Opening times of both the archives and the museum, special events and much more will be readily available on the page well as appearing on this website.

We are new to the social media scene and would appreciate you dropping by and even more so if you 'like' us.


Museum planning day - Monday 13 February


As advised in our newsletters all who are interested in redeveloping the museum are invited to participate in a planning day to discuss all manner of possibilities at the Uniting Church Hall, Cliff Street on Monday 13 February at 10am. It will be a day of butcher's paper, exchanges of ideas and thinking 'big'.

Redveloping a museum can be an exciting process and one that will attract new and return visitors alike. This is your opportunity to be involved in recreating a space that reflects our community's past.

We will supply tea, coffee, biscuits and cool freshments but please bring your own lunch. If you would like to participate please contact Bill Pigram 6226 4894 or Cheryl Mongan 6226 1435.



February meeting - Monday 6th at 2pm

Our guest speaker Elizabeth Burness is well known to many groups within the Canberra area having been involved in historical presentations for many years. Her wide repertoire of presentations have delighted audiences of all ages at conferences, meetings and at the Tuggeranong Schoolhouse Museum where she currently houses part of her extensive collection of textiles, furnirure and all manner of antique and vintage household items. Elizabeth will the presention the Life of Ellen Kelly and we can promise you a history lesson with a difference.

We look forward to seeing our members and guests at the meeting. Perhaps you might care to join us for lunch in the bistro at 12.30pm.

End of Year Gathering

Invitations have been sent to all members to attend our End of Year Gathering in Lovat Chapel, Meehan Street on Saturday 3 December at 6pm. It will be an enjoyable occasion to gather in one our town's most historic buildings.

One of the Societies artworks, a watercolour and pastel of old St Augustine's chapel (now known as Lovat Chapel) by Yass-born artist Margaret Coen will be on display during the evening. It will be a pleasant way to end 2016 a year of increased activities.

Friends of Cooma Cottage are welcome. A small cover charge of $15.00 pp is payable to the Treasurer by 26 November.

December meeting - Monday 5th at 2pm

Our guest speaker Dr Richard Reid, a Life Member of the Society will reveal just a few of the treasure that we hold in our archives at our December meeting. Many of you will recall Richard's presentations at Beyond the Limits of Location at St Clement's, Galong and at our Centenery of World War One talks. You are assured of a lively presentation with all sorts of interesting local stories that relate to the broader picture of Australian history. Why not join us for lunch in the bistro at 12.30pm at the Soldiers Club.

Antiques @ Cliftonwood Saturday 19 November 11am to 4pm

The Society will hold an antiques valuation day at Cliftonwood, on Saturday 19 November commencing at 11am.

Our hosts Tony and Sue Wade have kindly offered the use of their historic property as the venue. Situated off Irivine Drive, Cliftonwood, built in the early 1840s, stands on the slope of a hill overlooking the Yass River.

Andrew Whitehead, former head valuer at Lawsons Auctioneers and Valuers, Sydney has kindly offered his services for the day Commencing at 11am, owners of treasurers will be able to purchase tickets at $5.00 per item which will entitle them to an assesment and valuation by Mr Whitehead. There is a maximum of three articles per person at any one time however should you wish to have more objects assessed you can purchases further tickets and join the queue.Cliftonwood will be open for inspection on the day. Devonshire teas will be served, crafts stall and a display by the Antique Farm Machinery Club Inc.

Hunt out those treasures that have been lurking in the back of the cupboard - you never know what you might find.

November meeting - Monday 7th at 2pm

Our guest speaker Dr Jeff Brownrigg's presentation on Camel bell, cleanliness and culture will be of interest to anyone who has charge of a collection - personal, a family or community collection. A former Toastmaster's Communicator of the Year Jeff will provide an entertaining and informative look at dealing with the issues that arise. Why not join us for lunch in the bistro at 12.30pm at the Soldiers Club.

Archives - open first Saturday of the month 11am to 3pm

There has been a positive response to the Saturday sessions at the Archives. It has been decided to open on the first Saturday of each month frtom 11am till 3pm and we will continue to open on Tuesdays from 2 - 5pm .

Berrima Sutton Forest Day Trip - Thursday 15 September

Please join us for a day out in the beautiful Southern Highlands visiting Berrima and Sutton Forest, departing Yass at 8am in a comfortable air conditioned bus.

Our first stop will be morning tea in Berrima park before visiting the local museum to see their new exhibitions, then on to State Heritage listed Harper's Mansion, built in c1835 for local publican James Harper and his wife Mary. The two acre garden includes a large produce garden, heritage roses and one of the largest mazes in Australia.

A hot lunch and coffee or tea will be served at the Surveyor-General Inn, built by convict labour for the Harpers in 1834.A few minutes drive takes us to All Saints Suttion Forest where historian Linda Emery will relate fascinating tales from the churchyard.

Our final property of the day will be the stunning gardens at Red Cow Farm, first settled in the 1820s. Developed by the current owners over the past two decades the abundant and secretive garden surrounds their historic cottage and features twenty garden 'rooms' such as the monastry garden, the cottage garden, a bog garden, woodland, a lake and much, much more.This garden has been described as one of the best in the world.

We aim to return to Yass around 6pm. Pick up and drop off in the Lead Street car park (behind the Club House Hotel),

The all inclusive cost is $80 for members and $85.00 for non-members, includes tyransport, addmission fees to all four sites, a hot lunch at the Surveyor-General Inn and morning tea in the park.

Bookings will be confirmed on payment of deposit of $40.00 per person with the remainder due on 7 September..

Archives - special openings 11am - 3pm on Saturday 2, 16 & 30 July 2016

During July we will open our archives on three Saturdays to cater for members and the general public who are unable to visit on Tuesdays. If there is a positive response to these additional opening times we will consider weekend opening from time to time.

The archives continue to acquire information that is invaluable to historians, famility histoprians, those seeking information on buildings and much moe. If you haven't used the archives before you are welcome to call in and see what we hold.

We will continue to open on Tuesdays from 2 - 5pm

Museum - winter closure

Our museum closed for the winter recess (June long weekend to mid September). Installation of new display cases and maintenance will take place during this time.

Into the Inferno: Yass and the Western Front 1916 - Saturday 23 July 2016

The society will present the second in a series of talks that examine our district's involvement in the Great War.

With the Gallipoli campaign behind them, the men of the AIF (with the exception of the Light Horse units) were deployed to France. They were to bolster the Allied forces along the Western Front, a battlefield 750 kilometres in length from the Belgian coast through France to Switzerland.

Initially the Australians went into the lines near Armentieres in the 'quieter' sector in April 1916. They were placed there to gain experience though the fatalities were a stark reminder of the dangers of war. Several Yass men lost their lives in the first couple of weeks but it was not until July that the Australians began to bear the full brunt of the enemy action at Fromelles and Pozieres.

Over the next two and a half years more than 295,000 Australian served in this theatre of war, 46,000 lost their lives and a further 132,000 were wounded. The war complicated the lives of everyone even in rural communities such as Yass with the escalating actions on the battlefield having repercussions at home. The cost to families, communities and the nation was appallingly high. The push for conscription to reinforce the numbers overseas divided communities and the loss of lives had long lasting effects on families and friends, as well as the wider community and indeed the nation. As the year went on locals increased their efforts to raise funds and to provide what little comforts that they could manage to send to the troops overseas.

Dr Richard Reid's presentation will examine how the men of Yass and District battlefields Cheryl Mongan, president of the society will use items from our collection to illustrate her presentation on life in Yass in 1916. The third speaker Dr Jeff Brownrigg will delve into the verse of wartime poets that helped relieve the tedium of trench life and the stress of the inherent dangers of warfare.

Hartigan Centre, opposite Catholic Church, Meehan Street. Saturday 23 July 2pm.

Afternoon tea will be served. $10.00 membhers $12.00 non-members Bookings please! 6226 1435, 6226 2315 and 6226 1334.


Yass Remembers Gallipoli - Saturday 8 August 2015

Recent commemorations around the nation have recognised the service and sacrifice of Australians during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. To coincide with the cententary of the Battle of Lone Pine, our society will host a presentation on Saturday 8 August.

It will be the first of a series of talks that examine our district's involvement in what was, at that time, thought to be the war to end all wars.

Peter Burness, a Senior Historian and the Australian War Memorial's longest serving employee, will speak on aspects of the locals' battlefield experiences on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Drawing on records and letters of enlisted men local historian Cheryl Mongan will talk about how the Yass community rallied to the cause from enlistment and fundraising to commemoration. Tracy Kelly who travelled to Gallipoli for the Anzac centenary services will give her impressions of the commemorative activities.The afternoon will conclude with well known cultural historian Dr Jeff Brownrigg exploring how 'ratbags and super stars' used poetry and song to influence communities to send their sons (and in some cases, daughters) to war.

The presentation commences at 2pm in the Soldiers' Memorial Hall supper room (accessible from the library laneway) and afternoon tea will be provided. Admission $10 pp or families $20.

Bookings are essential - please phone 6226 2315 or 6226 2708.

Yass Soldiers at Villers-Bretonneux Dawn Service

Photographs of some fifty Yass men who saw action on the Western Front were projected onto the tower of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux before the Dawn Service on Anzac Day 2015. Some 6,000 people attended the service.

The images from the Society's collection feature some of the more than sixty district men have no known graves and are commemorated on the walls of the memorial. The first to be killed were the men who lost their lives in late July 1916 at Pozieres. Amongst them were Private George Honeysett, 377, 1st Battalion, Captain Frank Coen, 18th Battalion and Private Reginald Cole Kenny, 2701A, 3rd Battalion, who were killed between 22 and 26 July.

Reg Kenny's last letter to his mother Agnes Kenny on 3 July 1916 conveyed a graphic description of what the men of his unit were enduring - 'One wonders how any human being can live through such an inferno or how human nerves can stand it. There we are crowding up against the parapet, all aound us the shattering percussion of the great shells. The curtains of screaming shrapnel. the malign chatter of the machine guns, the heavy fumes of the high explosives and such extra torments as bombs and rifle grenades and always the horror of the asphyxiating gases would seem to make up an inferno almost too awful for man to endure'.

The service was televised and can be viewed on Youtube.

Original grave marker of Private Reginald Cole Kenny & others of the 3rd Battalion,
killed at Pozieres, France between 22 and 26 July 1916, who commemorated on
the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux. [YDHS Inc]

Yass Soldier featured on 'Spirit of the Anzacs' album

It is not often that an album of a commemorative nature tops the pop charts but this occurred last week when a new cd 'Spirit of theAnzacs' shot to No 1.

The album features Lee Kernaghan, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Sheppard, Shannon Nolls, Megan Washington and others. The inspiration for Lee Kernaghan's song 'To the Top of the Hill' is a letter held by the Society who have been liaising with the producer Garth Porter for some months. Written in July 1915 by Private Roy Denning from Malta, where was recuperating after being wounded, the letter to his mother relates his struggle to climb the hill above Anzac Cove u8nder heavy fire on 25 April 1915.

Tracks cover Australia's involvement in war from Gallipoli to the present day in the Middle East. An arena spectacular of the same name, featuring Lee Kernaghan, Jack Thompson and Lise McCune will tour Australia later this year. Proceeds of the cd go to Legacy and Soldier On charities.

Private Roy Howard Denning, 213, 1st Field Company Engineers
was amongst the Australians who landed at Gallipoli on the
morning of 25 April 1915. [YDHS Inc]

Great War Memories

The Department of Veterans' Affairs has included the website 'Great War Memories' on its new Anzac Portal to commemorate the Centenary of WW1. Yass was selected as one of 60 communities from around Australia to showcase an item from their collection that connected to the story of the town's involvement in World War One.

The chosen item was the record books of the Yass Boys' Comforts Fund which details the recipients of the comforts parcels sent during the war and remarkably what each parcel contained.

The first parcels sent to Yass men were boxes of chocolates arranged through Johnson's local store and delivered by Cadbury's in Birmingham, England.

Miraculously one of the chocolate boxes survived the rigours of the war and was recently donated to the Society - see Boongaroon, September 2014.

Fifty Years, Fifty Treasures

The Woollenwealth Crown. [YDHS Inc]

To celebrate our Golden Jubilee we are featuring fifty of our most interesting objects and documents from our diverse collection.

Exciting objects and documents drawn from our collection illustrate the rich history of our local community. Objects range from the telescope used by Hamilton Hume during his explorations and a Peninsular War cavalry sword believed to have belonged to Captain Francis Allman to the photographs of early Yass photographer Alfred Shearsby and the trophies of Sir Walter Merriman and moving towards more modern times the Woollenweath Crown used to crown young local women who raised considerable funds for community projects and Yass' first nude calendar.

There is something for everyone in this temporary exhibition at our museum and we look forward to welcoming you to experience glipses of our past through this collection of 'treasures'.

Heritage award for Yass

Members were especially pleased to hear of their nomination for a NSW Heritage Volunteers Award in recognition of the formidable body of research that they have carried out in recent years.

The successful nomination was made by Peter Kabaila Heritage Advisor to the Yass Valley Council. For a number of years the volunteers at the Society's archives have diligently worked in conjunction with the council, consultants, local and family historians to compile a database of buildings of heritage value within the local government area.

Twenty-two individuals and representatives of cultural organisations from throughout the state were presented with certificates in recognition of the work that has been undertaken within their communities. The presentation was made by the then Minister for Planning Kristina Keneally at a ceremony held at the Police and Justice Museum in Sydney on 16 November 2009.

The Minister (now Premier of NSW) spoke of the commitment of all involved in the work of preserving heritage sites and historical information and in particular the unstinting dedication of volunteers at a local level who are involved in the onerous task.

The ceremony was followed by a buffet luncheon and the opportunity to view the current exhibitions at the museum.

President Gloria Carlos was presented with a NSW Heritage Volunteers Award on behalf of the volunteers of the Society's archive by the then Minister for Planning Kristina Kenneally at a ceremony in Sydney on 16 November 2009.
[Image Cheryl Mongan]





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This page last updated 16 May 2019