Located in the western foothills of the Great Dividing Range and about 380 km south-west of Sydney is the town of Young. The Burrowmunditory people, a family group of the Wiradjuri Nation, are the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters of the area. The area was settled by James White, who established Burrangong Station in 1826. Young is known as the cherry capital of Australia, and a wide range of stone fruit is grown in the district throughout the year. Cherries were planted by early settlers and immigrants during the gold rush, which began in 1860. During the gold rush, the town was known as Lambing Flat. The name was changed to Young in 1863 in honour of Sir John Young, Governor of New South Wales from 1861 to 1867.
The streetscape of Young is best appreciated on foot. There are many historical buildings, from commercial premises to pubs and civic buildings, with interpretative signs at various points offering insights into the history of a town that grew rapidly during the gold rush years before establishing itself as an agricultural centre. The Old Commercial Bank of Australia, shown above, was built in 1890.
There are a number of churches throughout Young, including the Young Presbyterian Church. The St Paul’s Presbyterian Church is in the Gothic Revival Style, and was built in 1920-1921, replacing previous buildings. Early services had been held in a bark-clad building on the Temora Road, until it was blown down in a storm and replaced with a timber building.
The arrival of the railway was a key milestone for many towns, and it opened up opportunities to get fresh produce to Sydney markets. The brick station building was built in 1885, and reflects the importance of early railway construction to the local community, along with the extent of railway expansion through NSW in the 1880s. Initial proposals included the railway line bypassing Young, partly to save money, but this was overruled. The railway station was in use until December 1989, and is now the Young Visitor Information Centre. This photo was taken from the Anderson Park War Memorial, commemorating those who have served in conflicts in which Australia has been involved.
One of the highlights of my brief visit to Young was spending time at the Chinese Tribute Gardens. Located about 4 km from the town centre, the gardens are built around a dam that was originally constructed in the 1860s by German miners, Hermann and Johann Tiedemann, to provide water for their Victoria Hill sluicing claim. The dam was purchased in the 1870s by Chinese miners who reworked the area. In the 1950s it was a recreation area, and was extensively upgraded in 1992. The Chinese Tribute Gardens were established to recognise the contributions of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young, and their ongoing contribution to Australian society. There are a number of sculptures along the paths including a replica of the Bronze Running Horse (Matafeiyan).
In 1861 there were anti-Chinese riots at Lambing Flat, which remains as one of the most notorious incidents in the history of the Australian gold rushes. Following the discovery of gold in 1860, within a year there were over 10,000 miners in the town, and about 10% were Chinese. A mix of lawlessness and racism resulted in the Lambing Flat riots in 1861, which lead to the Chinese Immigrants Regulation & Restriction Act, which ultimately evolved into the White Australia Policy.
The Lambing Flat Folk Museum site has a wide range of information and images relating to the history of Young. The photo galleries offer views of the town over the decades, including the mining camps and more recent photos of the annual Lambing Flat Chinese Festival. There is also an article on The Lambing Flat Riots And Its Legacies 1861-2021 which provides insights into the origins of the riots and the repercussions for Australian society. The museum holds the 1860 Lambing Flat Roll Up banner, and you can read more about the banner and the riots here.
Young is a place with friendly people, beautiful old buildings, and an interesting, complex history. It was well worth a visit.
Photo: monument to the pioneer cherry growers of Young and districts