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Looking for a holiday with heritage charm, good food and wine, plus outdoor attractions? Then just say Yass! If you’re on a road trip between Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra, this is a stopover you won’t want to miss. Jump in your hire car and take a dog-leg north from the nation’s capital. One hour later you’ll be relaxing in the picturesque landscape of the Yass Valley, with its rich rolling farmlands dotted with vineyards. Yass is the perfect place for the weary traveller to rest and recharge. Expect delightful streetscapes, elegant facades, and its namesake river meandering gently through the heart of this tranquil township.
Upon arrival, take some time to unwind in the lovely green spaces around Yass. Stroll the Riverside Park and keep an eye out for Aboriginal murals and local wildlife. Or perhaps begin your stay with an easy picnic on the shady grass in Coronation Park. The Yass Valley Information Centre is right here – so pop in, grab yourself a map and begin the Yass Town Walk. A few doors down, get the lowdown on the colonial background of the area at the Yass and District Museum. Take tea and refreshments at Cooma Cottage: the last residence of explorer Hamilton Hume (of Hume Highway fame), also the first non-indigenous person to venture to the Yass plains. His fine property is now listed with the National Trust; serious buffs may even want to visit his grave. Another son of Yass is legendary poet Banjo Paterson, the famous scribbler of Waltzing Matilda and the Man from Snowy River. Reflect on this respected man of letters as you sit in the commemorative Banjo Paterson Park.
Yass is also an ideal base if you’re keen to tour the Canberra District Wine Region. What’s more, arts and culture also flourish in the Yass Valley. Artists, creators and designers are drawn here for the idyllic, pastoral scenery. Discover an abundance of galleries, studios and retail shops in the region showcasing sculptures, paintings and artisan wares. The Tootsie Gallery Café is a colourful example that combines all three. This restored art deco garage is a unique place that blends exhibition spaces, sculpture gardens, plus an artist’s workshop for hire. Stay for coffee and cake at the gallery café before you hit the road again, or choose from their 24 gelato flavours.
The Yass Valley covers the stretch from Wee Jasper in the west, crossing east to Gundaroo, then up to Binalong. The northern plains are bushranger territory, notorious for gunfights, stand-offs, and outlaws like Ben Hall and Johnny Gilbert. For a more pleasant history excursion, drive 40-minutes south to Gundaroo and discover an entire main street of Trust-classified, lovingly preserved architecture. With cottages, slab huts to homesteads, Cork Street even offers gourmet pizza at the old police stables. Otherwise, try the award-winning tastes at Grazing, a top Yass Valley restaurant. Complete your afternoon with a visit to the Tallagandra Hill Winery, a family vineyard that promises a delicious lunch.
Cellar door tastings at famed cool-climate wineries and iconic vineyards are a great way to enjoy the scenic countryside of Yass Valley (have a spare driver handy if you’re going down this route). And what’s a fine drop without some foodie-friendly fare. Stop in at gourmet shops and markets, including the monthly Murrumbateman Village Market. Pick up some super-fresh regional produce, pottery and handmade crafts, or native plants.
Murrumbateman is a premium grape-growing spot between Gundaroo and Yass. Its fertile fields are home to the acclaimed Clonakilla and Helm Wines. While you’re in the village, enjoy the sweet sensations at Robyn Rowe Chocolates. Learn the maker’s story behind these fine Belgian-inspired treats, and stay for chocolate drinks or afternoon tea. Then check out the historic sites at this former gold-mining town before you head back to downtown Yass.
There are still more fascinating outdoor adventures to round off your stay around Yass. Why not experience Burnelee Excursions on Horseback. Learn the art of mustering cattle and sheep on a working grazing run at Murrambateman. Ride with your guide through the property’s thousand-acres of native bushland, or simply walk the tracks and explore at your own pace. Your trip to Yass and the Yass Valley region is so much more than just a stopover.