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Young, NSW

Historic gold mining town known as the Cherry Capital of Australia and the scene of Australia's infamous Lambing Flat race riots.

Young is a substantial rural service centre famous for two things: its importance during the goldrush era - the Lambing Flats riots loom large in Australia's racial history - and its current status as one of the country's richest areas for stone fruits. The town, located in a valley surrounded by low hills, is the commercial centre of an agriculturally diverse district famous for its cherries, peaches, plums and other stone fruits, although berries, grapes, pigs, sheep, wheat, wool, cattle, oats, barley and eggs are all important to the local economy.

Location

Young is located 376 km west of Sydney via the Hume Freeway and 379 km via the Blue Mountains and Cowra. It is 432 metres above sea-level. The Hume Freeway is much quicker as it is mostly motorway.

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Origin of Name

The town was originally known as Lambing Flat because, not surprisingly, it was located where the sheep on James White's property liked to give birth. When gold was discovered the town was officially surveyed in March ,1861; allotments went on sale in May; and officials named the settlement 'Young' after the Governor of New South Wales, Sir John Young. He had arrived in Sydney in March, 1861. The name "Young" was not officially gazetted until 1869.

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Things to See and Do

Fresh Fruit
Part of the attraction of Young is the fresh fruit. There are literally dozens of orchards around town which, in season, sell cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, apples, pears, grapes, strawberries and raspberries. Not surprisingly they also sell jams, spreads, preserves, pastries and juices. The cherry harvest runs throughout November and December and the fruit season ends in April. It is sensible to visit the Young Visitor Information Centre, 2 Short Street, tel: (02) 6382 3394 where you can be directed to the orchards which are open. There are some orchards where visitors are encouraged to pick their own fruit.

Young Heritage Walk
The Young Heritage Walk (it can be downloaded at http://www.visityoung.com.au/Visit-Young/What-to-Do/Heritage-Walk) is divided into the Township Walk and the Heritage Walk and involves 58 locations around the town. The Township Walk takes about one hour. The most significant places around town are:
1. Young Railway Station - an elaborate Italianate-Gothic building dating from a time when the state was rolling in gold money. The railway was a branch line, opened in 1885, which connected Young to Harden. It was commonplace for people to get married in the morning and to catch the train at 12.30 to head off for their honeymoon.
3. Empire Hotel - dating from the 1880s it is a typical country hotel of the era with a cast-iron veranda and gabled brick parapets.
9. St Mary's Church - built in 1874 of local grey granite with a Welsh slate roof. It was designed by an Italian immigrant, Andrea Stombucco. Inside there is a scissors-beam roof, exceptional stained glass windows and a Celtic cross which marks the grave of Monsignor Jerome Hennessy.
11. Old Gaol Gate - these date from 1876 and was part of a gaol designed to hold 90 prisoners who made cabbage tree hats from the fronds of cabbage tree palms. The gaol closed in 1923.
13. Carrington Park and the Band Rotunda - the park dates from 1889 when it was opened by the Governor of New South Wales, Lord Carrington. The elegant band rotunda was built in 1912.
14. Court House - The giant Ionic portico proclaims 1884 in Roman numerals, but it actually opened in 1886. This huge courthouse was built to demonstrate Law and Order on the site of the worst encounter between rioting miners and police (1861). One of the finest court buildings in New South Wales, it was designed by James Barnet, Government Architect. Since 1925 it has served as the town’s High School, the courtroom is now the school hall.
15. Reading the Riot Act  - this occurred on 14 July, 1861 and is recorded on the fence of the High School. "This notice records the only public declaration of “The Riot Act” in NSW history. Miners carrying banners and notices against Chinese on the goldfield surged up the hill to confront police at their camp. The response to the Riot Act was outcry, so mounted troops with sabres charged while some fired overhead. Miners retreated in disarray, many being injured."
16. Lambing Flat Folk Museum - The Museum is open from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm daily, tel: (02) 6382 2248. It is a significant local museum with a remarkable collection of rarities connected with important events in Australian history. The displays include the remarkable 'Roll-Up' Flag which was used in 1860-61 to summon European miners to assembly prior to assaults on the local Chinese community. It still bears the inscription 'No Chinese'. Other exhibits include bushranger Frank Gardiner's prayer book, an 1862 barber's chair, a 'magic lantern' projecting device, gold-washing implements, a small 19th century hot-air engine, an 1867 hand-operated sewing machine, a poker machine c.1900, and the name plate of Coborn Jackey, the local Aborigine who was friends with James White, the first settler in the district. For more information check out http://lambingflatmuseum.webs.com.
17. Lupton's Lookout - named after William Lupton, the only person killed in the July, 1861 attack on the police lockup, this lookout offers a fine view over the Lambing Flat where the first discovery of gold was made.
18. Halliday's Bridge - now a modern bridge but, if you look carefully, there is a timber pylon dating from the 1870s. This was the location where the district's first goldrush took place.
24. Anglican Church Buildings - "St John the Evangelist Church built 1893 to the design of Arthur Blacket (of the famous church-building firm) in late 13th Century Gothic style. This the second church on the site, the first being in memory of Police Captain John Wilkie who died in a fall from his horse in 1862 – his widow Margaret raised funds to build a church here in 1865. St John’s church is built of grey slate from Bendick Murrell with sandstone details. The beautiful interior is worth a visit - fine woodwork, stained-glass windows and organ gallery. The Rectory was built in a Deco-Tudor style in 1937.At rear of the 1957 parish hall is the former Church of England School 1866 designed by William Kemp, the only school building remaining from gold-rush days."
28. Bank Corner - Young’s grand bank buildings reflect the prosperity of the town. Three are at the intersection with Boorowa Street. The former Rural Bank of NSW has a comfortable rustic Georgian style. The former Commonwealth Bank is Art Deco and the grandest of all is the baroque splendour of City Bank 1890, later becoming Commercial Bank of Australia. It is worth a glance inside - it has an ornate ceiling and cedar fittings. It resembles a small Roman palazzo in the style of Bramante. At the rear stands the old stone stables (late 1870s) with an attic hayloft.

Blackguard Gully Gold Fossicking
Located 1 km east of the Young shopping area on the Murringo Road opposite the showground is a three-hectare area dedicated to gold prospecting (equipment can be hired from the museum). It fronts Victoria Gully which was known as Blackguard Gully in the gold mining days. The Chinese were consigned to this spot in an attempt to prevent trouble during the 1861 Lambing Flat Riots. A furrow was ploughed to mark the boundary of their confinement. Today there is a picnic area and inside an enclosure are the remains of pug mills, water races, mining shafts and dams with connecting pathways. It is a dedicated gold fossicking area and, with equipment hired from the Lambing Flat Museum, you might get lucky. For more information check out http://www.young.nsw.gov.au/culturalmap/tours/itinerary.htm.

Chinese Tribute Garden and Chinaman's Dam
The Chinaman's Dam is located 4 km south-east of Young on Pitstone Road via Kingsvale Road. It was established in the 1860s by two German brothers, Herman and John Tiedmann, to supply water for sluicing their claim on Victoria Hill. Chinese miners purchased the dam in the 1870s and reworked the area. The dam supplied water to steam trains at one time and, in the 1950s, became a recreation and aquatic reserve for swimming and picnicking. In 1992 the area was upgraded with lawns, a new picnic-barbecue area and the establishment of Chinese Gardens. In 1996 the gardens were formally dedicated as the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden "in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young in the 1860's and the ongoing contribution of the Chinese community to Australia as a nation." For more information check out http://www.visityoung.com.au/Business-Directory/view-business?BusinessID=15453.

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Other Attractions in the Area

The True Roots of the White Australia Policy – The Riots at Lambing Flats
The first European to reach the Young area was a pastoralist named James White in 1826. A sheltered flat section of his property was used by pregnant ewes and became known as Lambing Flat (the early name for Young) and it was on that flat that gold was discovered in 1860. Within months there were 20,000 prospectors on the fields, of which 2,000 were Chinese.

The goldfield was wild and dangerous. Violence, theft and armed robbery were commonplace. There was no official government presence until November, 1861 which meant that the initial rush was totally lawless. There was no law enforcement infrastructure, no gold escort and no security of possession when a miner made a claim.

A shanty town comprising liquor shanties, butchers, bakers, blacksmiths and store keepers, all operating out of canvas stores, developed. Slowly the canvas tents were replaced with bark huts and eventually timber shops.

Tensions between Chinese and Europeans began within months of the establishment of the gold field. As early November 13, 1860, a group of European miners attacked and drove off 500 Chinese prospectors and destroyed their tents. This forced the government to act and try and establish order. By November 27 a Gold Commissioner and three mounted troopers were appointed. This was totally inadequate.

By early December a vigilante group, accompanied by a musical band, burnt down some disreputable grog shanties and, as part of their attack, they also drove off some 50 Chinese. There is some evidence that they scalped two men and cut off the ears of others. Eventually police reinforcements arrived and order was restored. There is no evidence of the scalping or cutting of ears.

On January 25, 1861 European miners, believing that the Chinese miners were abusing the settlement’s scarce water resources, attacked and drove off more Chinese and threatened to destroy the police barracks if the troopers interfered. Reinforcements were sent for. By the end of January there were 30 police officers on the diggings.

On January 27 European miners, ignoring the police, attacked and drove off hundreds, possibly thousands, of Chinese miners. They stole and destroyed Chinese property, assaulted the miners and cut off their pigtails. When the police arrested eleven perpetrators an estimated 4,000 miners rallied and demanded their release. The men brought before a court on January 28 but the evidence of the Chinese was deemed unsatisfactory and the accused men were released.

The rioting and attacks continued with Chinese property being destroyed and Chinese miners being attacked. All Chinese servants were dismissed.

By the end of January a Miners' Protective League had been created. It was unambiguously racist with policies that included expelling all Chinese, repealing gold duties, obtaining parliamentary representation and police protection, unlocking public lands, and promoting Christianity throughout the mining districts.

The state premier, Charles Cowper, travelled to Lambing Flat in an attempt to diffuse the situation. He tried to tread a line between both Chinese and European grievances arguing that he was in favour of restrictions on the Chinese but was powerless to stop them entering the country and insisting that the persons and property of the Chinese could not be harmed.

On March 11, 1861 at least 150 troops with three 12-pounder field guns arrived at Lambing Flat and set up fortifications at the corner of Campbell and Berthong Streets.

On May 24, two days after a violent confrontation at Native Dog Creek goldfield, the troops departed, against the advice of the gold commissioner.

A rumour spread around the goldfield that 1500 Chinese had landed at Sydney and were heading for the Lambing Flat area. This led to the most savage riot which occurred on June 30, involved an estimated 3,000 European miners (most were British, Irish and American) who, armed with pick-handles, bludgeons and whips, marched to the Chinese encampments to the sound of a brass band. Again, pigtails were cut off, property smashed and huge bonfires consumed Chinese clothing, tents and furniture. At least one European man was killed and others were wounded.

Subsequently several men were arrested and on July 14, 1861 about 1000 miners attacked the gaol in a rescue attempt. The Riot Act was read near what is now Carrington Park and shots were exchanged. One miner was killed. The police and magistrates released the prisoners and left for Yass. The courthouse and police camp were burned down that night.

The leaders of the Miners' Protective League travelled to Sydney to have their grievances heard but the Governor refused to see them. When a regiment of troops arrived with a howitzer on July 31, another five men were arrested. The trial was held at Goulburn in September. The men were acquitted with the trial judge arguing that although the Chinese were 'undesirable' they took the gold, not from British subjects, but from the ground where it would remain but for their exertions.

The miners celebrated and the major upshot of the riots was, not surprisingly, the passage, in November, 1861 of the Chinese Immigration Restriction Act - the beginning of the White Australia Policy. At Lambing Flat the Chinese were restricted by government decree. Further assaults on the Chinese went unpunished as European juries proved unwilling to convict the assailants.

Iandra Castle
Iandra Castle is located 23 km north of Young. It is a large homestead located between the villages of Greenethorpe and Monteagle which has a state heritage listing. Built between 1908 and 1910 in the Federation Romanesque style by the pioneering engineer Edward Giles Stone, the homestead, with the surrounding agricultural property, is a rare example in Australia of the manorial system "the likes of which may not exist elsewhere in the state or nation". The dwelling along with the surrounding stables, church and residences was listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register in 2005. The castle has frequent open days, usually around one per month. For specific details check out http://iandracastle.com.au.

Murringo
Located 23 km east of Young is the small village of Murringo which was surveyed as early as 1849 and laid out the following year. It had started life as a resting place for bullocky teamsters headed west from Boorowa. A woolshed, blacksmith's shop, house and dairy were built. A post office was established in 1857 and a public school in 1860. Murringo became a flour milling centre boasting two hotels and three stores. With the discovery of gold at Lambing Flat the village went into decline. Christ Church was built in 1865, a stone school in 1870 and a Catholic Church in 1874. All three are still standing.

Wombat
Wombat is located 14 km south of Young on the Olympic Highway. It came into existence in the early 1860s as one of the outlying fields of the Lambing Flat goldrush. At the time there was a large population of wombats in the area. Chinese miners were exiled to this field after the Lambing Flat Riots. A post office opened in 1862, a public school was established in a bark hut in 1867, St Matthew's Church of England (still standing) was built in 1873 and a Catholic Church in 1875. The Wombat Hotel, licensed in 1877, is central to the small town's appeal. After gold mining ceased a small population remained, including some Chinese who established market gardens. At one end of town is a sculpture of a wombat paid for by an amused English visitor. The sign reads "Our Wombat. This sculpture, unveiled on 7 April 2002, was the result of the inspiration and generosity of Peter Vardy of Surrey, England and the creative talents of Canberra artist Bev Hogg."

Wallendbeen
Wallendbeen is 17 km north-west of Young and is named after Wallendbeen station ("wallendbeen" is probably a Wiradjuri word meaning "stony hill") which was settled by Alexander Mackay. The tiny village was laid out after the railway arrived in 1877. Today it is the heart of the local wheat and sheep area. It is known for its oval which hosts the local cricket team which has been in existence since 1887. Wallendbeen has an important place in the history of the bushranger, Ben Hall. In 1863 a man named Barnes was shot dead near Wallendbeen Station while fleeing to of Hall's bush ranging gang, John O'Meally and John Vane, and, six weeks before Hall was killed in 1865, Hall's gang held the cook and a visiting piano tuner in the dining room of the homestead while they stole three horses.

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History

* Prior to European occupation the area was home to the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people.

* The first European to investigate the site of Young was a pastoralist named James White who, in 1826, was directed, by the local Aborigines, to Burrangong Creek.

* White established sheep yards in a well sheltered valley where lambing ewes were taken. This became known as Lambing Flat.

* In 1847 Edward Taylor planted the district's first cherry trees.

* Gold was discovered at Lambing Flat in 1860 by White's nephew and 'Alexander the Yankee' at what is now the southern end of Main Street.

* The discovery was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 4 August 1860 and this led to a major gold rush to the district.

* By mid-1861 an estimated 20,000 miners were on the fields, of which 2,000 were thought to be Chinese.

* Violence and general lawlessness flared. It was fuelled by deep resentment of the Chinese miners.

* On November 13, 1860, a group of European and Australian miners banded together and drove off 500 Chinese prospectors and destroyed their tents.

* On November 27, a Gold Commissioner and three mounted troopers were appointed to bring law to the goldfields.

* In December a vigilante group burnt down some grog shanties and drove off 50 Chinese.

* By the end of 1860 the town had its first proper hotel.

* On January 25, 1861 miners drove off more Chinese and threatened to destroy the police barracks if the troopers interfered. The number of law enforcement officers in the area rose to 30.

* On January 27, 1861 miners drove off hundreds more Chinese and stole and destroyed Chinese property.

* Around this time a Miners' Protective League was formed to expel the Chinese, repeal gold duties, unlock public lands, and promote Christianity throughout the mining districts.

* On March 11, at least 150 troops with three 12-pounder field guns arrived, setting up fortifications at the corner of Campbell and Berthong Streets.

* In March, 1861 the town was officially surveyed. Allotments went on sale in May.

* On May 24, two days after a violent confrontation at Native Dog Creek goldfield, the troops departed.

* On July 14 about 1000 miners laid siege to the gaol in a rescue attempt. The Riot Act was read near what is now Carrington Park and shots were exchanged, in which one miner was killed.

* During 1861 a post office, school, bank, newspaper, Anglican Church and Catholic Church were built in the town.

* The annual gold supply carried by escort from Young peaked in 1862 at nearly 3500 kg.

* In 1862 the first hospital was built and a new courthouse replaced the one burned down in the riots. The telegraph line arrived.

* Lambing Flat goldfield was worked out by 1864.

* A Wesleyan Church was completed in 1866.

* Only 235 kg of gold was extracted in 1868 and this had dropped to 29 kg in 1876.

* Young was officially gazetted in 1869.

* Wheat, maize, barley and oats were cultivated in the district from the 1860s

* In 1878 a Croatian immigrant, Nikola Jasprica, planted the district's first commercial cherry orchard.

* A local sawmill was established in 1865.

* A flour mill was built in 1866.

* The town got its first commercial brewery in 1877.

* Local government was established in Young in 1883.

* In the 1880s local industry flourished with the opening of a tannery, boot factory, soap factory and brickworks.

* The railway reached the town in 1885. It was a branch line from Harden

* A meat chilling works opened in 1893 and a butter factory in 1894.

* In 1889 Young became the first town outside the capital cities to install electricity for streets and homes.

* By 1923 Young reputedly had the world's two largest cherry orchards.

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Visitor Information

Young Visitor Information Centre, 2 Short Street, tel: (02) 6382 3394.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful and detailed official website. Check out http://www.visityoung.com.au. An excellent additional source of information is https://www.visithilltopsregion.com.au which covers Young, Jugiong, Boorowa and Harden Murrumburrah.

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2 suggestions
  • To Whom it May Concern
    It is stated here that Monsignor Jerome Hennessy was Parish Priest of St Marys Catholic Parish Young from 1889-1895. That is incorrect because the Monsignor was stationed in Young from 1889 till 1941, except for approx. 4 or 5 years, until he passed away in April 1941. To date, he has been the longest serving parish priest in Young, and it’s almost certain that his record will never be broken.

    Chris Worthington 0414 603 603
  • Ancestors of mine “Frank Holland (a law clerk) married Jane Mary Barker (Milner) in 1884 in Young. I am very keen to find out more about them. I understand that the Holland family is quite prominent in the town. I am so eager to visit this delightful town and meet the ancestors” Any information about Young in the 1880’s…where I can go to locate same would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Rosie Gudonis