Former District Courthouse
Without knowing a little of the history of country New South Wales towns such as Young, Cooma and Goulburn (and there are others) your initial encounter with courthouses in these places will undoubtedly cause raised eyebrows. Like me, you will wonder why such grand courthouses were built in what are today are rather modest towns in most other respects.
If you have read some of my other tips on Young you will have ascertained that there was a significant gold rush in Young in the 1860’s and consequently there was no shortage of money in the area.
This courthouse was built during the period of Young's consolidation following the town's gold rush and at a time of general extravagance by the New South Wales Public Works Department when courthouses were often built with little or no regard for the needs of the community. The Goulburn courthouse, incidentally also designed by New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet is an even more indulgent building (see separate tip on my Goulburn page). Barnet also designed the rather grand courthouse and other civic buildings in Cooma (see separate tip on my Cooma page). I wonder if Barnet ever left his desk in Sydney!
This rather ornate Victorian Classical style building was Young's fourth courthouse.
Young's first courthouse was built in early 1861 as part of the Commissioner's Camp following the discovery of gold. It was destroyed during anti Chinese riots in July 1861 (more detail in other tips). A weatherboard replacement followed until it was replaced in 1874 by a modest brick courthouse closer to the centre of town (Lynch Street).
By the 1880s a grander building was deemed necessary. Enter New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet who designed the building you see here today. Construction began in 1884 and two years and 12,000 pounds later the new courthouse was opened on 6 April 1886.
The building is constructed of stuccoed brick and sports a very impressive double height portico with Ionic columns, topped by a pediment displaying the coat of arms.
It was rarely (twice a year) used as a courthouse and the 1874 building, in Lynch Street, continued to function as the town’s primary courthouse. Following calls to make greater use of the building the courthouse became part of Young's intermediate high school in 1925 and continues to be used as the current school's assembly hall. The 1874 Courthouse in Lynch Street (rebuilt in 1928) serves as the town’s courthouse today (picture 3).
The former court house (this building) is not open to the public.
- Historical Travel
St John the Evangelist’s Anglican Church
The first white settler to arrive in Young was the aptly named James White an ex-convict who arrived in 1832. Having befriended Cobborn Jackie, a chief of the Waradjeri Aboriginal tribe, he secured a homestead site at Burrangong Creek, Young. White and his family lived here pretty much undisturbed until June 1860 when gold was found at one of his sheep camps – Lambing Flat.
Within months the population of the area was in excess of 20,000.
My separate tip on the reading of the Riot Act provides details of how Lambing Flat (later to be renamed Young)degenerated into a “wild west” where violence, theft, armed robbery and general lawlessness was the norm.
Troops lead by Captain John Wilkie arrived to restore order after the worst of a series of riots in June 1861. Wilkie’s wife, Margaret, joined her husband in Lambing Flat. Margaret set about Christianising the barbaric miners (my term, not her’s!). A timber church was opened in November 1861 and visiting clergy were supported, accommodated and entertained by Captain and Mrs Wilkie.
On 1 February, 1862 Captain Wilkie suffered a fit of apoplexy, fell of his horse and died. Margaret returned to her home in England where she trained as a nursing sister under Florence Nightingale at St Thomas Hospital. All the time she was collecting money to build a church in far off Young, and a good thing this was too, as when the Rev’d W H Pownall was finally persuaded to become a resident priest in Young he arrived on 8 August 1864 to find that the temporary church had been sold for thirty shillings.
Margaret Wilkie returned to Young and construction of the Memorial Church of St John the Evangelist commenced on 21 March 1865. The church, substantially financed by Wilkie and other private contributions, was completed and consecrated by the first Bishop of Goulburn, Bishop Thomas, on 11 August 1865.
The church is in Early Decorated Gothic style, fashionable in England in the 13th century, and is constructed in local Bluestone, a type of slate and was the first permanent church of any denomination in the goldfields. It was extended in 1893 and again in 1913 and 1928. The 1928 west end extension envisaged a tall bell tower, which never eventuated. As a pamphlet on the church states, “as the west end arose the Great Depression descended, and the Parish to its astonishment could not afford the tower”. The stunted bell tower in picture 2 had to suffice.
Internally the church is rather plain though pleasant and certainly worth a look.
- Historical Travel
War Memorial and Town Hall
In terms of buildings I prefer Young's old Railway Station, but for many visitors the Town Hall on Boorowa Street is Young’s most striking building. Were it not for the fact that it incorporates the towns rather tasteful and different World War I Memorial it might be less so.
While most towns opted for stand alone war memorials, and in particular cenotaphs at key intersections, Young decided to honour its dead soldiers and those who served by remodeling the existing Town Hall to incorporate a memorial vestibule, tower and clock. And what a great decision this was.
The memorial’s construction commenced, in conjunction with an extension of the Town Hall itself, in 1922 and was dedicated in 1924.
The brick and cement tower is 90ft (30m approx.) high and includes a bronze figure of a “digger” above the main entrance to the Town Hall building. A digger is an affectionate Australian term for former soldiers and in particular those from World War I. The life size digger is modeled on Corporal Everard Christopher Powderly a Military Medal recipient for bravery. The figure, holding a rifle resting on a Howitzer shell, was commissioned and financed by the local Caldwell family in memory of Anthony Caldwell who died in an aircraft accident in England whilst undergoing training in the Flying Corp.
Around 700 men and women volunteered for service between 1914 and 1918. Sixty-four made the supreme sacrifice.
There are several polished granite tablets on the outside of the main doorway and inside the entrance foyer on which inscriptions and veterans' names are engraved. Four smaller plaques list separately those who died in both World Wars I and II, with bigger plaques listing all those who served. There is a separate World War II memorial in Young (see separate tip).
- Historical Travel
Reading the Riot Act
I am sure many readers will have heard of people “reading the riot act” or indeed have announced that they would do so themselves. Less, I imagine, would be aware that the phrase is some 300 years old dating from the public reading of the 1714 Riot Act – an Act of the British Parliament also applicable in Australia.
The Riot Act was read aloud by authorities to demand the dispersal of any group of more than twelve people who were "unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together". If the group failed to disperse within one hour, then anyone remaining gathered was guilty of a felony without benefit of clergy, punishable by death.
The Riot Act was read in Young on 14 July 1861.
Gold was discovered in Young, then called Lambing Flat, in early 1860 by 'Alexander the Yankee' at what is now the southern end of Main St. Within months around 20,000 miners had descended on the town, of which around 2000 were thought to have been Chinese.
The town quickly developed into a “wild west” where violence, theft, armed robbery and general lawlessness was the norm.
On 13 November, 1860, a group of European miners, resentful of the well organised and successful Chinese miners, banded together and drove five hundred Chinese prospectors out of town destroying their tents and other property. Similar expulsions continued over the next six months with authorities unable or unwilling to do anything about what became known as the Lambing Flat riots. It is recorded that Chinese men were occasionally scalped or their ears cut off though actual deaths appear to have been rare or went unrecorded. Assaults on the Chinese miners, removal of their pigtails and destruction of their property became routine.
In May 1861 a rumour spread that 1500 Chinese had landed at Sydney, bound for the Lambing Flat area. Three thousands Europeans, armed with pick-handles, bludgeons and whips quickly assembled and marched to the strains of Rule Britannia, played by a brass band, to the Chinese encampments. They marched under the now famous Roll-up banner which is on display in the Lambing Flat Folk Museum across the road from this notice. The banner read 'Roll-up Roll-up No Chinese'. The by now routine destruction of property and cutting of pigtails followed but this time one European man was killed and a number injured. There is no record of Chinese deaths.
The authorities, though limited in number, acted and several men were later arrested for rioting. On 14 July about one thousand European miners laid siege to the gaol in a rescue attempt. The Riot Act was read (where this sign now stands) and shots were exchanged. One miner was killed.
The reading of the Riot Act - the one and only time it was read in New South Wales - had little impact. That night the police and magistrates released the prisoners, packed up their possessions and fled town. The courthouse and police camp were immediately burned down.
While order was subsequently restored it was largely at the expense of the Chinese miners' rights. The major outcome of the riots was the November 1861 passage of the Chinese Immigration Restriction Act. Australia’s infamous White Australia Policy was thus initiated. That’s another story!
- Historical Travel
The Last Train Departed at ………..
Prior to the railway coming to Young this site was occupied by the town’s first public school which opened here in 1864 (rebuilt 1873).
By the 1860s Young, like many other towns in the area, was booming from a gold rush and to open the town to the outside world demands to “Bring the Iron Horse to Town” began. The Iron Horse (railway) arrived in 1885. The school was demolished and the current building was officially opened as Young’s Railway Station on 27 March 1885. Next to the station houses were built for the stationmaster, porter and level-crossing gatekeeper. In addition to servicing gold miners the line also supported the agricultural sector - especially via the transport of wool.
Passenger services to Young unfortunately ceased in the 1980s (I can’t determine the exact date) at which point the station was closed. Freight services continued until the railway line itself was finally closed on the 30 August 2009 when the last train, a Lachlan Valley Railway’s 4701/4716, left Young.
The former Gothic inspired railway station, a listed building, was fully restored and reopened as the Visitor Information Centre in December 2008 so, if you like, the “station’’ continues to welcome visitors to Young.
As I wandered through the station I couldn’t help thinking about what a fantastic house it would have made for me! Outside, the steeply pitched corrugated iron roofs, simple decorative timberwork, including finials, gables and stucco work painted in contrasting colour to the darker brickwork makes this a most appealing building. The verandahs on the platform side and on the front of the building are beautiful.
Inside the station today, in addition to the local tourist information and souvenirs available, there is the small Burrangong Art Gallery (items for sale but no bargains here) and the Hilltops Region Cellar Door (some nice wines and better value here!).
Well worth a stop for a both a look at the building itself and to pick up some information about the town.
9am - 5pm Monday to Friday, 9:30am - 4pm Saturday and Sunday. 9:30am - 4pm
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Pick your own Cherries - Wombat Height Orchard
A cherry Orchard where you can pick your own cherries (also sugar plums and peaches in season). Pay by weight for the ones you don't eat as you pick - price about half what you pay in the shops. Pick up a bucket at the weighing area and off you go. A bucket hold around 5kgs of cherries.
An on site "Grog shed" sells home produced cherry wines and other liquors, home made jams, pickles, chutneys and preserves.
A very pleasant way to spend a few hours - picnics are permitted in quite pleasant gardens
While there are numerous cherry orchards in the Young area this one is a favorite of mine and a bit less busy as off the beaten track.
I go back to this one year after year. If you can try to get there before the tour buses arrive from Sydney though even if you don't there is plenty of space for everyone.
Hint: when picking cherries take the stalks with you as well - cherries stay fresher for longer and honestly they are not that heavy!
Opening times - All year - Cherry picking Mid Nov - December - Ring before you go.
Entrance - Free but pay for fruit picked
Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Gardens
The adjacent Chinaman's Dam (itself pleasant for a stroll) was built in the 1860's by German brothers Herman and John Tiedmann to provide water for their goldmining activity which, in the 1870's, they sold to a Chinese group. The dam later provided water for steam railway engines.
In 1992 the Rotary Club of Young developed the Chinese Tribute Gardens at Chinaman's Dam.
In 1996 the local council dedicated 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."
The early contribution saw the killing of many Chinese miners between November 1860 and June 1861 in what is now known as the Lambing Flat riots. As gold became scarce, European miners began to resent what they saw as the greater success of the more industrious Chinese, and hence many Chinese miners were attacked, robbed and killed.
The Gardens now provide a perfect spot for relaxing and a great place to have lunch with toilets, picnic facilities and barbecues provided just outside the gardens themselves.
The Gardens are small and can be walked through in 10 minutes but why hurry -make your way to the garden viewing platform and sit and relax overlooking the garden and the Pool of Tranquility.
Opening times – Everyday until sunset
Entrance fee - free
- Historical Travel
Visit one of the Hilltops Region wineries
Some of the country around Young is reasonably high, so it’s not surprising that the wineries in the surrounding region have chosen the name “Hilltops” as their regional name. I might add that ‘high’ should be taken in the Australian context, where much of the country is very flat! In this area, the context is about 500 metres, just enough to give some beneficial chilling effects of altitude on the finish of the wines. The Hilltops Region has about a dozen wineries, with some 500 hectares of land under vines.
We sampled some of the local “Ballinaclash” Shiraz at dinner one evening and I found it very enjoyable indeed. Subsequently, as part of our car club event, we paid a visit to Grove Estate vineyard, where the enthusiasm of the proprietors showed in the quality of the wines being produced: yes, I left with several bottles! This also was a good venue for some enjoyable photography.
Not surprisingly, the various wineries all have different visiting arrangements –varying from “no cellar door” to “open 7 days”. Most are open on weekends. Though I suspect it my not be entirely current, you will find some information on the website below. Without any question though, the Young Visitor Information Centre will be able to give you current details and advice on finding wineries.
- Wine Tasting
- Road Trip
Chinese Tribute Park
I guess as an act of reconciliation, some years ago the Young Rotary Club initiated a project which became the Chinese Tribute Park near the town. As the sign says: “In recognition of the contribution of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young in the 1860s and to the ongoing contributions of the Chinese people to Australia as a Nation.” Usefully, the area has a dam, known as Chinaman’s Dam since it was purchased by Chinese miners in the 1870s. Subsequently the dam was used by the railways to water long-gone steam engines: now it provides a pleasant centre-piece for the park, with its bridge and pagoda.
The area still is under ongoing development (up to stage 3 of a planned 7 stages), but progress is being made. We visited with friends who live locally and who were surprised at the extent of development since their previous visit. From the carpark with its BBQs, cross the little bridge to a pleasant garden with its pagoda, formal lions, shrubbery and stonework. As you walk around the park, you will reach the superb bronze “Galloping Horse”, a replica of an original found in a Han Dynasty tomb dating back 1600 years. You will also find many trees planted with adjacent plaques, commemorating their donation by members of the Chinese community, not least a substantial menhir with a plaque for the “Peace and Prosperity Tree” presented by Young’s “Sister City”, Lanzhou.
The park was pleasant and, I thought, reminiscent of the Japanese Gardens in Cowra.
Update 2009 On a return visit with the car club, I’m sorry to say that we found that nothing new has been developed since our prior visit and the pagoda has been removed because of vandalism: let’s hope that it’s restored and that development resumes soon!
- Road Trip
You will find these as you enter the buildings at the JD’s Jam Factory (see “Shopping’).
Apparently, these three sculptures were made from the trunk of a large tree removed from the Young Showground, when they were carved freehand with a chainsaw during the Young Cherry Festival in 2001. You just have to be impressed! The figure of the old fossicker with his gold pan struck enough of a chord that I took a second photo and, in the background, you can see part of the plant of the jam factory. If the jam factory had been operating during our visit I’d also have listed it as a ‘to do’, as there are viewing areas to watch production. Unfortunately it’s a seasonal thing!
Should you have a large tree that you’d like carved, the contact is Kevin Gilders in Victoria on (03) 9561 4604.
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
Lambing Flat Folk Museum
The old Young schoolhouse was built in 1883. It is quite an imposing building (main photo), but it seems educational changes required a younger Young school! Where once was the chatter of children, now the building provides meeting rooms for community groups, most with interests unrelated to tourists (photo2). The exception is the Lambing Flat Museum, which welcomes tourists with open arms(photo 3).
As with most such museums in Australian country towns it is run by a volunteer group of enthusiasts. As also is common, the result is a rather eclectic mixture of memorabilia either donated or on loan; obsolete dentist’s equipment; and so on. Of passing interest, but not necessarily unique. Oh yes, those posts with numbers outside the museum in the third photo are old mile posts from the roads to nearby towns, removed when Australia went metric.
One outstandingly unique and significant item breaks the Lambing Flat Folk Museum’s similarity to most other museums: the rallying banner carried by the European miners in the Lambing Flat riots. In the centre is a Southern Cross flag, down the sides are the words “Roll Up”, and taking pride of place at top and bottom, in large letters, the words “NO CHINESE”. Overall, it is about 1200mm square. Unfortunately the museum has a ‘no photographs without prior approval’ policy, so I will have to ask you to visit this website for a photograph and more details.
- Road Trip
- Museum Visits
Walk the main street – the Millard Building
Almost across the street from the Council Chambers, you will find the former Millard and Sons Department Store shop. Country department stores now are few and far apart and Millards has ceased operations. The gracious old building now houses a variety of businesses: real estate agents; a coffee shop; craft shops.
Still, even on a quiet Sunday afternoon when nobody else is around, it’s interesting to just poke around and enjoy the details of the stylish shop window and entry, dating from more relaxed times. Just look at the Art Nouveau glasswork, the name of the former store in tiles, the pressed metal ceiling under the awning.
Walk the main street – the Council Chambers
Without question, the Town Hall which houses the Young Shire Council, is by far Young’s most imposing building. Dating from shortly after World War 1, its clock tower incorporates a war memorial. Recently, it seems, only public pressure saved it from a bright idea by the Council to replace it with new Council Chambers, shops and a supermarket! I’d rather like to think it will be saved and refurbished, but whether the existing building will survive as more than a façade for a commercial development remains to be seen I suspect. Sometimes you just have to shake your head in wonder!
- Road Trip
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