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Activities and News


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

The society meets on the first Monday of each month - February to December (except October) at the Yass Soldiers' Club at 2.00pm.

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


Commencing in August 2016 a monthly newsletter will be circulated to all members to keep them informed of the latest news, activities and the work of the archives and museum.



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 dangeerous 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 oftrench 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 21March 2016