Easter in the Yass Valley: A Reflection

Written by: The Yass Phoenix


Over the years, Easter-time in the Yass Valley has oscillated from being a quiet affair to being very busy indeed. A good example of a quiet Easter occurred in 1924, when it was reported in The Yass Courier that “The Easter Holidays were quiet enough for anything in Yass. Easter Monday particularly so – That the collapse or a seat at the circus caused temporary excitement, but no great harm resulted. That mushrooms have been gathered plentifully this week and are still springing up – That decorations at St Clements on Easter Sunday gave the interior of the church a charming aspect.”

Of course, this quietness all came before the proliferation of cars and trucks and the growth of nearby Canberra. Prior to the Yass by-pass, the following describes what it was like for Yass residents at Easter-time in 1991: “The annual Yass Easter bottle neck has again frustrated Canberra motorists travelling along the Barton and Hume highways towards Melbourne. Thousands of cars, buses and trucks were delayed for at least an hour throughout most of yesterday in a traffic logjam that extended 10km north of Yass and 6km towards Canberra. Sergeant John Penyu, of Yass Police, said it was the biggest traffic snarl in his 10 years’ service in the town. In the end, police turned off Yass’s single set of traffic lights and ushered pedestrians and traffic” (The Canberra Times).

It seems that sport has featured as a popular Easter activity over the years. For example, in 1879 The Yass Courier reported that “The picnic races, under the auspices of the Yass Racing Club, came off yesterday on the usual ground. The weather was bright and clear. The first event on the programme was the Maiden Plate, and for this a field of five went to the post. As the bell was rung to muster the horses for starting, there could not have been more than fifty spectators on the ground, which must have been very disheartening to the energetic stewards. By the time the weighing took place for the second event (the Easter Gift) a few, very few, people began to straggle up, and add their little units to the few tens already assembled”.

In 1888 it was reported that “The members of the Yass Branch of the A. H. C. Guild [Australian Holy Catholic Guild] will hold their annual sports in the Euralie paddock, Yass, on Easter Monday, and since the foundation of the society, it has not placed before the public a more attractive programme than the one which appears in our advertising columns of to-day. Prizes amounting to nearly £50 are offered, and the Guild Handicap of £35, which is the largest yet offered by any society in Yass, ought to bring together a good number of competitors” (The Yass Courier).

In 1933 The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate praised the organisation of Yass’ Hume Tennis Tournament, saying “A party of Parramatta tennis players who took part in the Hume tournaments, held at Yass during Easter, report a wonderful trip and-speak highly of the hospitality they enjoyed and the fine organisation of the tournament.”

The Yass Valley has also proven to be a great location for visiting school groups at Easter time. In 1938 a group of 400 city boys from the Young Australia League visited Yass and Burrinjuck Dam on Good Friday. The boys were given a tour of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Dam. Following this excursion, they ate dinner in Yass and went to a “picture show” at the Memorial Hall (from the Yass-Tribune Courier). Then, in 1953 over 100 people from across NSW participated in a Presbyterian Fellowship Camp over Easter at the Yass Showground. Buses took the participants to Good Hope on the Saturday afternoon and on Saturday night a Camp Concert was held in the pavilion. It was duly noted that the campers could not have done without the services of Mrs. Dodd and her helpers, who did all the cooking (also reported in the Yass-Tribune Courier).

What’s your favourite Yass Valley Easter memory? Please write to us to share your favourite Easter memories. Our address is: editor@yassphoenix.com.au

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