About 60km north-west of Canberra and 268km south-west of Sydney, white settlers first heard about the gently rolling landscape of the Yass Plains in 1824 after explorers Hume and Hovell passed this way while trying to find an overland route to Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. You can retrace part of their journey along the Hume and Hovell walking track, which starts in the town.
Since its early days, wool has provided the economic base for the region and still plays an important role in its prosperity.
Hamilton Hume lived here for 40 years in Cooma Cottage, classified by the National Trust, and is buried in Yass Cemetery. Hume’s brother, John, was shot down by members of the Whitton bushranger gang.
Yass, in fact, was a favourite hangout for bushrangers, including Ben Hall and his henchman Frank Gilbert who met his Maker in 1865 during a gun battle at Binalong, about 36km north-west of Yass.
Banjo Paterson – Australia’s most famous bush poet – was born in the district at the height of the bushranger terror, in 1864.