For many people Yass is little more than a pit stop on the long drive south from Sydney to Melbourne. Those willing to explore the region, just three and a half hours drive from Sydney, will discover much more than meets the eye, and experience why it stole the hearts of both Banjo Paterson and Hamilton Hume. Rustic villages, historic houses, and some first class food and wine make the Yass Valley an excellent place for a few days away.
The Globe Inn B&B in Yass, a meticulously furnished 19th century guesthouse, is a great place to stay offering a genuine taste of colonial ambience. Centrally located, it is a good base to explore the historic streets and buildings of the town. Just a few kilometres drive is Cooma Cottage, one time home of pioneering explorer Hamilton Hume. Now in the care of the National Trust, this lovingly preserved property offers a glimpse into life on a homestead in the 1800s.
Gundaroo is the most interesting of the historic towns and villages that dot the Yass Valley. Immortalised in Banjo Paterson's poem, The Gundaroo Bullock, the town has been heritage listed as a model 19th century village and boasts a number of buildings dating back to the 1860's. It is also home to the popular Grazing restaurant, set in the historic Royal Hotel. For those who haven't booked ahead, the Cork Street Cafe also serves excellent pizza and coffee.
Just a short drive from Gundaroo is Murrumbatemen, gateway to the region's best wineries. Clustered around the town of are over fifteen cellar doors, including Dionysus and Clonakilla, offering a wide selection of cool climate wines. Shaw Winery has been awarded five stars by James Halliday and its Flint restaurant is a popular stop for lunch or dinner. Many of these wineries are included on the Poachers Way, a self-guided touring route that explores the region's finest wine, food and art.
The Poachers Pantry, which lends its name to the touring route, is a traditional smokehouse, cellar door and restaurant just outside Murrumbatemen. The Pantry is renowned for its extensive selection of smoked meats, and is also home to the popular Wily Creek winery. Set in the ambience of an old weatherboard homestead, the Smokehouse is a first class restaurant that offers both classic and contemporary dishes. The duck and scallop hotpot hits the spot on a cool night.
About 50km from Yass is the tiny village of Wee Jasper where visitors can explore the limestone depths of Carey's Cave and access the Hume and Hovell walking track, a 440 kilometre path that traces part of their famous voyage from Yass to Albury. From the Fitzpatrick Track Head, a few kilometres outside the village, the track climbs Mt Wee Jasper and offers spectacular views of the Brindabella Ranges. The cosy Stables Tavern has an old world atmosphere and is a pretty place to enjoy a cool beer while the sun sets over Burrinjuck Dam.